The Australian Federal Election has been scheduled for Saturday 18th May, 2019, which is just weeks away. For Australian expats living and working overseas, it’s important to recognise that you still have an obligation to cast your vote or take the necessary steps to remove yourself from the electoral role, which we’ve outlined below.

In this week’s article, we’re outlining the key steps for Australian expats to either remove themselves from the electoral role or register as an overseas voter, as well as what your options are when it comes to actually casting your vote.

It is compulsory for Australian citizens to vote in elections in Australia and fines can apply if you fail to meet this obligation. As an Australian expat, there are two key options when it comes to deciding whether you’d like to continue to have your say in elections or to remove yourself from the electoral roll and therefore this obligation.

Registration for Australian Expats to Vote

Option 1) Remove yourself from the electoral roll

Your first option is to completely remove yourself from the Australian electoral roll by declaring that you have left the country indefinitely. This form is most often used for those Australian expats that don’t plan to return to Australia within the next 6 years. Download the form from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website here and follow the instructions outlined on the form.

By completing this form, it’s important to note that you will not be eligible to participate in referendums and other elections while you’re living overseas. If/when you do decide to return to Australia, you will need to be sure to remember to add yourself back to the electoral roll.

Option 2) Register yourself as an overseas voter

If you plan to return to Australia within the next 6 years, you can choose to register yourself as an overseas voter. To complete this, you will need to complete the form from the AEC website by clicking here. To discover which electorate you are registered in, click here and follow the relevant steps. If you’ve been living offshore as an Australian expat for more than 6 years, or you plan to be offshore for greater than 6 years, you can contact the AEC and request an extension. This would then allow you to continue participating in elections and referendums in Australia.

If you are planning to register as an overseas voter, and won’t be visiting Australia in time for the election to vote, it’s important to plan early with regard to how you’ll be casting your vote in the election.

Options for Australian expats to vote

Option 1) Postal Vote

If you plan on submitting a postal vote, it’s important that you apply and follow the appropriate steps. You can apply to be able to submit a postal vote by clicking here. Once you have registered, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will post you the ballot papers to be completed and submitted by Saturday 18th May 2019. You will only have 13 days after the election for these documents to be received by the AEC for your vote to be registered.

You will need to have your postal vote witnessed also to ensure that it is legitimate, and this must be completed by a witness that is approved from the list below:

  • An elector whose name appears on the Electoral Roll
  • Outside Australia, the following persons are authorised witnesses:
    • an officer of the Defence Force or of the naval, military or air forces of a Commonwealth country,
    • a person appointed or engaged under the Public Service Act 1999,
    • a member of the civil or public service of a State or Territory or of a Commonwealth country,
    • a Justice of the Peace for a State or Territory or a Commonwealth country,
    • a minister of religion or medical practitioner resident in a State or Territory or a Commonwealth country,
    • an Australian citizen.

Option 2) Australian Embassy or Consulate

Your second option is to cast your vote at an Australian embassy or consulate in your country of residence or elsewhere. Click here for a complete list of voting venues around the world. You will often find that Australian Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates will provide voting options for Australian expats.

If you have any questions at all about how to register or cast your vote, feel free to reach out to our team or contact the AEC directly. You can also stay up to date with the latest odds for the upcoming election by clicking here.


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