Elections (voting from abroad)
Canadians who are living or travelling outside Canada can vote by special ballot in federal elections, by-elections and referendums.
To vote by special ballot, you must be a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older on polling day and have previously resided in Canada.
If you live abroad
If you live abroad, you may apply to be added to the International Register of Electors and vote by special mail-in ballot in future federal elections at any time.
To be included in the International Register of Electors, you must:
- be qualified to vote (i.e. a Canadian citizen at least 18 years old on election day)
- have resided in Canada at any time before applying
- confirm that you intend to return to Canada to reside by providing the date on which you intend to resume residence in Canada, and
- confirm that you have resided abroad for less than five consecutive years, or provide proof that you fall within one of these exceptions to the five-year rule:
- You are employed outside Canada in the federal public administration or the public service of a province – or live with someone who is;
- You are employed outside Canada by an international organization of which Canada is a member and to which Canada contributes – or live with someone who is; or
- You live with a member of the Canadian Forces or with a person who is employed outside Canada by the Canadian Forces as a teacher in, or as a member of the administrative support staff for, a Canadian Forces school.
To apply, complete an Application for registration and special ballot for Canadian citizens residing outside Canada , available online through Elections Canada, in person at any Canadian government office abroad, or by calling Elections Canada at 613-993-2975.
Send your completed application and copies of your supporting documents to Elections Canada in Ottawa. Once your completed application has been approved, your name will be added to the International Register of Electors. When a federal election, by-election or referendum is called, Elections Canada mails a special ballot voting kit to all eligible electors whose names appear in the International Register.
If an election has been called and you are not in the International Register of Electors, you may still apply. Your completed application must be accepted by Elections Canada in Ottawa by 6:00 p.m. ET on the Tuesday before Election Day. When your completed application has been approved, Elections Canada will send you a special ballot voting kit. It’s important to apply as soon as possible to allow time for the kit to be mailed to you, and for your marked ballot to be mailed back to Elections Canada.
If you are travelling or studying abroad
If you usually live in Canada but are away to travel or study, you may apply to vote by special ballot once an election has been called – not before.
After an election call, complete an Application for registration and special ballot for electors residing in Canada, available online from Elections Canada, in person at any Canadian government office abroad, or by calling Elections Canada at 613-993-2975.
Deadlines for voting from abroad
If an election has been called and you would like to vote by special mail-in ballot, you must apply as soon as possible. You are responsible for allowing enough time for Elections Canada to send you a special ballot voting kit and for you to return your marked ballot by the Election Day deadline.
According to the Canada Elections Act, ballots received after the deadline cannot be counted.
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