SA Expats to Make Their X for South Africa: What You Need to Know

South African expats will tomorrow head to the country’s high commissions, embassies and consulates-general around the world to cast their votes in the national and provincial elections.

South Africans queue to vote at the South African embassy in London on April 30, 2014. Photo: Vanessa Knight
Copyright: Vanessa Knight

The date, 27 April, coincides with exactly 25 years to the day South Africans first voted in the first democratic elections in 1994.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), in a statement on Thursday, said overseas voting will continue for almost 24 hours as voting stations open and then close around the world following the passage of the sun – beginning in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in the Los Angeles, United States.

Here’s what you need to know:

How many South Africans will be voting abroad?

29 334 South Africans living or travelling abroad have received approval to vote on Saturday.

Where do we vote?

At the mission indicated on your VEC10 application.

What do we need to take with us?

  1. South African ID document – either a green barcoded ID, a smartcard ID or a valid temporary ID certificate, AND
  2. Your valid SA passport

Last time the process was quite long…

Good news! This year the voting process has been simplified and overseas voters will no longer be required to complete a special vote application form before voting.

What happens after we vote?

Your ballot is sealed in a double envelope and all ballots are placed in sealed diplomatic bags which will be transported back to the National Office of the Electoral Commission over the coming week.

When will our votes be counted?

At the close of voting on Election Day in South Africa at 9pm on 8 May 2019, the returned overseas ballots will be opened by election officials, counted and added to the national ballot count for each party in the national elections. This takes place under the scrutiny of observers and party agents.

Can we vote in the provincial elections?

No. Overseas voters only vote in the national and not provincial elections.

Who will be conducting the process at foreign missions?

South African diplomats who have been trained as election staff by the Electoral Commission – although a number of senior Electoral Commission staff have also been deployed to high-density overseas voting sites such as London and Dubai.

What are the voting hours?

7am (07h00) to 9pm (21h00)

BUT voting hours have been extended at four foreign missions – London, Tel Aviv, Los Angeles and New York – to accommodate Jewish voters celebrating the Sabbath on 27 April 2019. Voting hours at these missions will be:

7am (07h00) to 11:30pm (23h30)

Can we take photos?

You cannot take photos of your marked ballot. It’s a criminal offence! But please do take other photos with South African flags etc. and email us – or inbox us on Facebook (@sapeople). Sadly iconic Trafalgar Square photos won’t be happening this year as it’s hosting the Vaisakhi festival. South Africans are asked to queue instead along Duncannon Street (on the side of the High Commission). It will be closed to traffic.

Sources: IEC and