Elections (voting from abroad) for Canadians

Op-Ed: Elections Canada

Elections (voting from abroad)

Canadians who are temporarily living or travelling outside Canada can, under certain conditions, vote by special ballot in federal elections, by-elections and referendums.

You may vote by special mail-in ballot if you are a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older on polling day and if you:

  • usually live in Canada, but are away from your electoral district during the electoral period, or
  • have been living outside Canada for less than five consecutive years (or longer if you meet certain employment-based criteria for exemption from the five-year limit) and meet certain other criteria.

Living abroad

If you are living abroad, you may apply to be added to Elections Canada’s International Register of Electors at any time. You must submit a completed Application for registration and special ballot for Canadian citizens residing outside Canada and provide copies of supporting documents that prove your identity. This form is available at any Canadian government office abroad, on the Elections Canada website or by calling Elections Canada at 613-993-2975. Completed applications and copies of supporting documents should be mailed or faxed to Elections Canada in Ottawa. Once your completed application has been approved, your name is added to the International Register of Electors. A special voting ballot is mailed to you when an election is called.

If an election has been called and you are not in the International Register of Electors, you may still apply. Completed applications must reach Elections Canada in Ottawa by 6:00 p.m. ET on the Tuesday before election day to qualify you to vote by special ballot in that election. When your completed application has been approved, Elections Canada will send you a special ballot voting kit.

Travelling or studying abroad

If you usually live in Canada but you are away from your electoral district when an election is called, you must wait after a general election or by-election is called in your riding before applying to vote by special ballot. You can obtain an application for registration and special ballot for electors residing in Canada from any Canadian government office abroad, on the Elections Canada website or by calling Elections Canada at 613-993-2975. Completed applications and copies of supporting documents should be mailed or faxed to Elections Canada and must reach the Elections Canada office in Ottawa by 6:00 p.m. ET on the Tuesday before election day to qualify you to vote by special ballot in the election. When your completed application has been approved, Elections Canada will send you a special ballot voting kit.

Deadlines for voting while abroad

If you intend to vote by special ballot and are not in the International Register of Electors, register as soon as you can after an election is called. You are responsible for allowing enough time for Elections Canada to send you a special ballot voting kit and for you to return it before the deadline. If you cast your ballot outside your electoral district, your vote must be received in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m. EST on polling day.

According to the Canada Elections Act, your vote cannot be counted if it is received late.

Other resources

•    Elections Canada