British residents will need to register to vote in next year’s local elections

Due to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, British citizens resident in Spain will need to declare their intention to vote in municipal elections each time.

Thursday 24th November 2022 · Mike Smith
Source: Diputación de Alicante / Ayuntamiento de Xàbia

British citizens officially resident in Spain will need to register to vote in next year’s local elections, even if they have voted before. This was confirmed during a special presentation organised by the Diputación de Alicante in collaboration with the Ayuntamiento de Xàbia to explain the right to vote for British citizens after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The presentation was managed by Doris Courcelles, the councillor responsible for Foreign Residents in Xàbia, and attended by the provincial councillor for International Residents, Juan de Dios Navarro, who gave the opening speech on the importance of being able to vote in the forthcoming local elections.

A representative called Rahim gave the opening presentation, explaining how the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) is responsible for compiling the information for voting in Spain and confirmed that the local elections will be taking place on Sunday 28th May 2023.

He also highlighted the minimum requirements for voting in the elections:

  • Voters must be 18 years or older on the date of the election.
  • Voters must be able to certify their legal status in Spain, such as a current Spanish residence permit, certificate or card.
  • Voters must not have had their right to vote removed.
  • Voters must be a resident of Spain with a current registered address in the municipality where they live.

    For EU citizens, no minimum residence period is required.

    Non-EU citizens from countries which have an agreement with the Spanish government, which now includes those from the United Kingdom, must have resided in Spain for a minimum period of 3 or 5 years in order to be able to exercise their right to vote.
  • Voters must declare their intention to vote and enrol with the Electoral Census before the deadline which vary for EU residents and for residents of countries with an agreement:

    For EU citizens, the deadline is 30 January 2023.

    For non-EU citizens of countries with a reciprocal agreement, enrollment should be made between 1 December 2022 and 15 January 2023

Non-EU citizens from countries with a reciprocal voting agreement with the Spanish government, which includes those from the United Kingdom, must register to vote every time they wish to exercise their right to vote in municipal elections. 

This is because the INE compiles a new Electoral Census of Foreign Nationals Resident in Spain from Countries with Agreements for each municipal election, meaning that enrollments are valid only for the municipal election for which they were made.

During the next week or so, the INE will send a letter to all non-EU citizens who meet the requirements to exercise the right to vote (see above) which will explain how to register your intention to vote in next year’s municipal elections. It will be available in English.

It is appreciated that the postal system is not as reliable as it should be so it is recommended that if you don’t receive this letter by 10 December 2022, you should contact the town hall through the OAC offices in Portal del Clot to complete the process. No appointment is necessary. The big message is: don’t leave it too late to do so.

The letter will explain the procedure to be followed to register your intention to vote in the next municipal elections; this can be done online by completing the form located on the official INE website, by post using the pre-paid envelope which will accompany the letter, or through the town hall using the form which will be provided for this purpose.

Once you have submitted all the necessary forms, it is recommended that you check your registration using this link You will need your digital certificate or CL@VE to complete this process.

Residents are reminded that there are national bank holidays on 6 December and 8 December and, of course, there is Christmas, New Year and Three Kings so the window for registration is fairly small so the advice is not to delay applications if you want to vote next May, deal with it as soon as possible and keep in mind that any applications received after the deadline of 15 January 2023 will be rejected and you will not be able to vote.

The British Vice Consul Sara Munsterhjelm was also on hand to confirm the information from the UK side, stressing the importance of being registered to vote, whilst also confirming that official proof of residency in Spain for UK citizens includes the green EU certificate / card as well as the new TIE biometric photo card. UK citizens must have been officially registered in Spain for a minimum of three years; it will be the date that you were officially accepted as resident which will be considered, which may not necessarily be the date of issue for your TIE card if you have been legally resident in the country before the exchange process after Brexit.

Finally, as one attendee pointed out at the end of the meeting: if you have the right to vote, then you must use it. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t moan!

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