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I’m a Canadian living abroad. How do I vote?
If you live outside Canada, you can apply now to vote by mail if you:
- are a Canadian citizen
- will be 18 or older on election day
- have lived in Canada at some point in your life
- intend to move back to Canada to reside, and
- have lived outside Canada for less than five consecutive years or are exempt from the five-year limit
If we accept your application, we will add your name to the International Register of Electors and send you a special ballot voting kit.
If you are not eligible to vote by mail, you can vote in person at an advance poll or on election day – learn more.
Who is exempt from the five-year limit on voting by Canadians living abroad?
You are exempt from the five-year limit if you are:
- employed outside Canada in the federal public administration or the public service of a province,
- employed outside Canada by an international organization of which Canada is a member and to which Canada contributes, or
- living with an elector employed as described above, or with a member of the Canadian Forces posted outside Canada, or with a person employed outside Canada by the Canadian Forces as a teacher or as administrative support staff in a Canadian Forces school
How can I prove I am exempt from the five-year limit?
If you are exempt from the five-year limit based on where you or someone you live with is employed (see list above), you must provide proof of employment for yourself or for that elector.
For example, provide a copy, photo or scan of a current:
- Canadian diplomatic passport
- employee identification card, or
- document on the organization’s letterhead, showing the employee’s name and employment status, signed by an authorized official of the organization
I live abroad and I am voting by special ballot. What is my Canadian address for voting purposes?
If you are voting by mail-in special ballot, your Canadian address for voting purposes is the address in Canada where your vote will count. You will vote for a candidate in the riding that contains this address.
Your address for voting purposes is:
- the last address you had before leaving Canada, or
- the address in Canada of:
- your spouse or common-law partner
- a relative of yourself, of your spouse or of your common-law partner
- a person you are a dependant of, or
- a person you would live with if you were not living outside Canada
This address cannot be changed after your name is added to the International Register of Electors.
I am already listed in the International Register of Electors. What should I do?
If your file is in order, we put your special ballot voting kit in the mail within days of the election call. Watch your mail, then mark and return your ballot as soon as possible.
If we sent you a letter asking you to supply your date of return or proof of exemption from the five-year limit, you must submit the requested information or proof before we send you a special ballot. We will not send you a special ballot until we get the requested information or proof.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
I thought a court struck down the “five-year rule.” What happened?
In May 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down the Canada Elections Act provisions on the intent to return to reside in Canada and the five-year limit. Although it was a decision of an Ontario court, as is its practice, Elections Canada stopped applying those provisions across Canada.
However, on July 20, 2015, the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed the lower court decision, reinstating these provisions. Elections Canada must administer the Canada Elections Act as enacted by Parliament and interpreted by the courts. We are implementing the court ruling immediately, as required.
I live abroad and am not eligible to vote by mail. How can I vote?
- You can register and vote in person at an advance or election day polling place.
- Get the location and hours of the advance and election day polling place assigned to your Canadian address for voting purposes.
- You must prove your identity and this address – see the list of accepted proof of identity and address.
Where do I get more information on registration and voting by Canadians living abroad?
Please contact Elections Canada’s Special Voting Rules Service Centre:
- 613-949-7502 (collect calls are accepted)
- 1-866-222-2565 toll-free in Canada and the United States
- 001-800-514-6868 toll-free in Mexico
- TTY 1-800-361-8935 toll-free in Canada and the United States
By e-mail : SVRENQ@elections.ca
Please note that Elections Canada does not offer a secure network for e-mail transmissions.
1-613-998-8393, from anywhere in the world,
1-800-363-4796, toll-free in Canada and the United States
Special Voting Rules
440 Coventry Road
P.O. Box 9830 Station T
Ottawa, ON, K1G 5W7
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