Can South Africans living abroad vote in the 2019 National Elections? The short answer is: YES (as long as you meet certain conditions). So, here are all your voting questions answered if you’re a South African living abroad, or planning to be overseas on SA National Election Day:
Can South African Expats Vote in the SA National Elections?
Yes, the Electoral Amendment Act 2013 gives all South African citizens the right to register and vote abroad for National Elections.
a) you are a registered voter and live abroad; or
b) you will be overseas on Election Day in South Africa
c) you have a valid South African ID – ie. a green, bar-coded South African ID book, smartcard ID, or valid Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC).
d) a valid South African passport
you are eligible to vote abroad!
you will HAVE TO SUBMIT A VEC10 during a period specified in the election timetable (15 days from the date on which the election is proclaimed) notifying the IEC (Electoral Commission of South Africa) of your intention to vote abroad.
PLEASE NOTE: Many South African expats missed out on voting in the last National Elections because although they registered to vote… they didn’t realise that they needed to submit a VEC10 at a later stage. Feel free to send us your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org (or fill in the form at the bottom of the page) and we will send you an alert as soon as the VEC10 form becomes available to submit.
How do I vote abroad?
Step 1: Confirm your registration status
Confirm your registration status online at:
If you live abroad, but previously registered in South Africa for the last elections, you should be still registered.
Please Note: When checking your registration details, you may see a message that indicates that you’re required to re-register due to changes to your voting district boundaries, but this message only applies to voters living in South Africa. Registered voters now living abroad are not required to re-register.
If you are registered:
Make sure that you have a valid South African ID – ie. a green, bar-coded South African ID book, smartcard ID, or valid Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC); and that your South African passport is valid. (If it has expired, renew it now.)
Apart from that, at this point (March 2018) there is nothing more for you to do, until the VEC10 Form becomes available. Send us your email address to email@example.com (or submit the form at the bottom of the page) and we will send you an alert as soon as the VEC10 form becomes available to submit.
If you are not yet registered:
i) Register during your next trip back home to South Africa – contact your local IEC office in SA to make an appointment during office hours; or
ii) you will be able to apply to register at your closest SA Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General during normal opening hours. BUT at this stage they are not yet equipped for registrations. The SA Embassy in Paris confirmed with SAPeople on 12 March 2018 that as soon as they receive the information from the IEC, they will post it on their website. Send us your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org (or submit the form at the bottom of the page) if you would like us to notify you when it becomes possible to register at the foreign missions.
You can contact your closest foreign mission yourself; and once registrations are open at foreign missions, please always contact them first to confirm the best time to go in and register:
If you work during the week, it is expected that as with the last elections, there will be a weekend announced when expats are invited to register at their closest Embassy.
To Register to vote abroad, you must:
- be a South African citizen;
- be at least 16 years old (you can only vote from age 18); and
- have a green, bar-coded ID book; smartcard ID; or valid Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC) with you;
- possess a valid South African passport (please check it has not expired or will not expire before 2019);
- apply in person and take the above with you (ID book, smartcard or TIC; and a valid South African passport).
How do I know if my green bar-coded ID book is still valid?
The green bar-coded ID book does not expire, so as long as you have it you’re fine. If you have lost it, reapply at your closest SA Embassy. You will be issued with a new green bar-coded ID book. (The smartcard ID is not yet available for applications made outside of South Africa.)
Once you have confirmed you are registered:
Once you are registered and have made sure you have a valid passport that will not expire before 2019, and have the required ID book, smartcard or TIC, there is nothing more to do at this stage. Send us your email address to email@example.com (or submit the form at the bottom of the page) and we will send you an alert as soon as Step 2 is announced.
Step 2: Notify the IEC of your intention to vote abroad – ESSENTIAL (but this step has not yet been announced)
This is where the VEC10 will come in. During this step you need to notify the IEC of your intention to vote abroad and indicate at which Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General you will vote.
The VEC10 form is an online form which will become available on www.elections.org.za. If the IEC follows the same process as the last National Election, then the form will only be available once the election date has been proclaimed, and must be completed within 15 days from the proclamation date.
Voters will then receive confirmation of receipt of the VEC10 form and approval to vote abroad via SMS or email.
You must submit the VEC10 even if you register abroad and intend to vote where you registered. If you do not submit a VEC10 before the deadline specified in the election timetable, you will not be able to vote.
Once you have submitted a VEC10, you can check the status of your VEC10 notification online.
PLEASE NOTE: As mentioned above, feel free to send us your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org (or fill in the form at the bottom of the page) and we will send you an alert as soon as the VEC10 form becomes available to submit.
Step 3: Vote
If you submit your VEC10 and it is approved, you will be able to vote at the foreign mission you selected.
Take both your green, bar-coded South African ID book; smartcard ID; or valid Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC) AND your valid South African passport to the foreign mission indicated on the confirmation the IEC would have sent you via email or text.
You can only cast your vote on the date specified in the election timetable. Under no circumstances can votes be cast on any other date.
On Voting Day:
- Your thumbnail will be marked with indelible ink.
- Your ID book will be stamped.
- You will receive the national ballot paper.
- You must mark the ballot in secret, and place and seal the ballot in the unmarked envelope given to you.
- The unmarked envelope will be placed in another envelope that is marked with your name and ID number. The use of two envelopes is to ensure the secrecy of your ballot (the outer envelope is discarded before counting).
- The envelope is placed in a secure ballot box for special votes.
Which foreign missions will be available to vote at?
The good news is that there’s a chance the IEC may expand the number of voting facilities overseas. The IEC says it is reviewing the procedures for expats to vote abroad, following the 2014 National Elections, where many expats – like those in popular expat locations like Sydney and Perth – were forced to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilometres, to Canberra to cast their vote. The IEC says it will approach the Department of International Relations & Co-operation (DIRCO) to consider adding extra voting stations.
For non-expats, who’ll be travelling at the time: Can I vote before I leave South Africa?
If you live in South Africa and are a registered voter, but will be abroad on the day that voting takes place in South Africa, you can either vote abroad on the date specified in the timetable (usually a week before Election Day in SA), or you can apply for a special vote, says the IEC. A special vote allows you to vote at your voting station in South Africa on the date/s specified in the election timetable (usually a day or two before Election Day). To apply for a special vote, you must make an appointment at the local IEC office responsible for your voting district.
To be notified of important dates, please follow the IEC:
- on Twitter (www.twitter.com/iecsouthafrica) or
- Facebook (www.facebook.com/iecsouthafrica).
TO MAKE SURE YOU RECEIVE ALL THE LATEST VOTING INFO FOR SOUTH AFRICANS ABROAD:
Please feel free to fill in the form below and we will keep you updated on all the vital South African National Election Day voting info – including which foreign missions you can vote at, when the VEC10 form becomes available and when the voting day is announced for South Africans abroad.