Out-of-country registration for South African voters

Democratic South Africa’s sixth national election is set to take place in 2019.

The Electoral Act 73 of 1998 gives all South African citizens the right to register and vote abroad in national elections.

To vote out-of-country your name must appear on the voter’s roll of the Electoral Commission (IEC). The voter’s roll contains the identity numbers, full names and addresses of voters, and is an important tool to protect against electoral fraud, that is, by ensuring that citizens vote in their correct voting district and only vote once.

Voter registration for all South African citizens – including those who live outside out of the country – is continuous, meaning that voters can register or re-register at any time.

For citizens who live ‘abroad’ to register as a voter, they must present themselves in person at their nearest South African mission, which includes embassies, consulates and high commissions, together with their valid South African identity document (ID), as well as a valid South African passport.

A full list of South Africa’s missions is available on the website of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at http://www.dirco.gov.za/webmissions/index.html.

Citizens based out-of-country who are already registered to vote – either on the national or international segment of the voters’ roll – need not re-register to vote before the 2019 national election.

However, to be eligible to vote out-of-country, voters will have to inform the Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC via the completion of an online VEC 10 of their intention to do so and by indicating the mission at which they will be voting.
 
The online VEC10 will only be available on the website at www.elections.org.za from the date that the 2019 national election is proclaimed and only for a 15-day period.


MORE ABOUT VOTER REGISTRATION

Who needs to register to vote abroad?
To vote in South Africa’s elections, you must be registered as a voter. First-time voters who are not currently on South Africa’s voters’ roll must apply for registration at their nearest South African embassy, high commission or consulate-general. Voters who live abroad, but were previously registered in South Africa, are still registered to vote and are not required to re-register.

What do I need to register to vote abroad?

You must:
  • Be a South African citizen
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have a valid South African ID – either the green, barcoded ID book OR smart ID card OR Temporary ID Certificate
  • Have a valid South African passport or valid temporary passport.

Where can I register abroad?
You must apply in person for registration at your nearest South African embassy, high commission or consulate-general (visit www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm for locations and contact info) during their normal office hours. Please note that it is not possible to register or vote at honorary consulates or liaison offices.

When can I register abroad?
You can register during the embassy, high commission or consulate-general’s normal working hours (please see www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm for contact info, and phone for opening hours). Voter registration is ongoing, but you must apply for registration before the election is proclaimed (published in the Government Gazette) to be able to vote in that election. There may be a registration weekend that will be announced for South African citizens abroad.

How can I check if I’m already registered?
Visit the My Voter Registration Details page at https://www.elections.org.za/content/For-voters/My-voter-registration-details/ on the IEC website and submit your ID number. Should you visit South Africa before the 2019 elections, you can also SMS your ID Number to 32810 (R1.00 per SMS sent or received) for your registration status and voting station details. (This SMS facility is only available if you are in the Republic of South Africa.)

What documentation do I need to take with me to register?
Please take BOTH your valid South African ID (green, bar-coded South African ID book, smart ID card, or valid Temporary Identity Certificate) AND your valid South African passport or valid temporary passport. Both documents are essential and must be valid, and no other ID can be accepted. Only original documents can be accepted – no copies.

What if my ID and passport have different surnames, for example, one still has my maiden name. Do I need to re-register?
You do not need to re-register. The IEC uses your identity number and checks it against the National Population Register (NPR). We then get your name as it’s reflected on the NPR (the Department of Home Affairs automatically changes your name when you get married), and that is the name that appears on the voters’ roll. You can apply for a new ID/passport reflecting your changed name if you want to. These new documents can be applied for at any South African mission abroad or at the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.

I am already a registered voter, but my given address is in South Africa. Do I need to provide the IEC with my new address where I live abroad?
Yes. By law the IEC is obliged to have an up-to-date and complete address recorded for each voter. Please email the IEC at info@elections.org.za and provide us with your ID number, full names, and new address so that your information can be updated on the voters’ roll. Please note that to be eligible to vote out-of-country, voters will still need to inform the Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC via the completion of an online VEC 10 (www.elections.org.za) of their intention to vote, and by indicating the mission at which they will be voting, once the 2019 national election is proclaimed.

I’ve tried to update my out-of-country address on the My IEC portal, but with no success. What must I do?
The IEC is still in the process of enabling this functionality on the My IEC portal at www.elections.org.za/MyIEC, and we will inform South Africans as soon as it is available. In the meantime, we will gladly update your address details on the voters’ roll for you. Please email the IEC at info@elections.org.za and provide us with your ID number, full names, and new address so that your information can be updated on the voters’ roll.

When are the 2019 elections going to be held?
The date for the 2019 national and provincial elections is only expected to be announced by the President in early 2019. In terms of the Constitution the elections must be held within 90 days of the expiry of the current term of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. Their term expires on 6 May 2019, and the 90 day period ends on 5 August 2019, so the elections must take place between these dates.