Who can vote in the EU referendum?

Published: 07 Jun 2016

If you could vote in the last general election, you can vote in the EU referendum.

For people who live in the UK, that means British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens.

You must also be 18 or over on referendum day (23 June) and registered to vote. If you’re not registered, the deadline is 7 June.

For people who live abroad, you can vote if you’re a British citizen or Irish citizen from Northern Ireland who has been registered to vote here in the last 15 years.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Gibraltar or be a member of the House of Lords, you wouldn’t be able to vote in a general election, but you can vote in the referendum.

Who can’t vote?

The flipside of “who can vote” is “who can’t vote”.

You can’t vote in the referendum if you’re under 18, even in Scotland, where people that age could vote in the independence referendum.

And you can’t vote if you’re an EU citizen living here, unless you’re from Ireland, Malta or Cyprus. Ireland has always had special treatment, and the other two countries are in the Commonwealth as well as the EU.

British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years can’t vote either. This was unsuccesssfully challenged in the courts.

The Electoral Commission, which will oversee the referendum, has more information here.

Got more EU referendum questions?

This piece was written because a number of readers asked us to using Ask Full Fact.

If you want us to answer your question about the EU referendum, go to fullfact.org/ask, where you can submit questions and vote for other suggestions to take priority.

This series of articles answers the most popular Google searches about the European Union and the EU referendum on 23 June.


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