One week left to apply to vote abroad

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Electoral Commission has reminded all voters, who wish to cast their ballot in the national elections outside of South Africa, that they have just one week left to apply.

In terms of the election timetable published last week, registered voters have until 11:59pm on 13 March 2019, to apply and notify the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to vote at one of South Africa’s 121 foreign missions.

The Electoral Commission said applications are open to both voters registered abroad, as well as locally registered voters, who will be travelling outside of the country during the election and wish to vote outside of the country.

“By [5 March], 12 425 applications had been received and processed. Of these, 6 247 have applied to vote in missions in Europe, 2 926 in Asia, 1 502 in Africa, 868 in North America, 817 in Oceania and 65 in South America.

“In 2014, the Electoral Commission received 27 899 applications to vote outside the country, 26 716 of which were approved and a total of 18 446 actually voted in the election,” the IEC said.

The commission reminded voters that voting outside of the country is scheduled for Saturday, 27 April 2019, at South Africa’s foreign missions.

“This is to allow for the secure transport of completed ballot papers back to the national office of the Electoral Commission, where they will be counted in front of party agents and added to the national ballot count once polling closes on 8 May 2019,” the commission explained.

The IEC has simplified the overseas voting application process since the 2014 national elections.

In 2014, voters who wished to vote abroad, were required to first notify the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to vote abroad and then, on voting day, complete an application form before voting.

These two processes have now been combined in the VEC10 process, which should significantly reduce the time taken to vote on 27 April 2019.

Registered voters can apply by completing and submitted a VEC10 form via the website

Frequently Asked Questions for Voting Abroad:

1.         Who may vote abroad?

Any South African citizen who is registered to vote and is 18 years old on 8 May 2019.

2.         How do you apply to vote abroad?

Registered voters need to complete and submit an online VEC10 application on by no later than 23h59 on 13 March 2019.

3.         What happens after you submit the VEC10?

Once you have submitted your VEC10 online, voters will immediately receive an SMS or email notification confirming their submission and the foreign mission at which they will vote.

4.         Where and when does voting abroad take place?

Voting takes place at all South African foreign missions between 07am and 09pm on Saturday 27 April 2019

A full list of South Africa’s missions is available on the website of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at

5.         What do voters need to take with them to vote?

Voters will need to take their South African identity document (ID) – either a green barcoded ID book, smart ID card, or valid temporary ID certificate and their valid South African passport. Both documents are essential. Only original documents can be accepted – no copies.

6.         What happens when you cast a special vote abroad?

  • Your thumbnail is marked with indelible ink.
  • Your ID book or Temporary Identity Certificate is stamped (if you’re voting with a smart ID card this will not be stamped)
  • You receive a national election ballot paper.
  • You mark the ballot in secret, place and seal the ballot in an unmarked envelope.
  • The unmarked envelope is placed in another envelope that is marked with your name, ID number and the name of the mission where you voted. The use of two envelopes is to ensure the secrecy of your ballot (the outer envelope is discarded before counting).
  • Election officials take the envelope and place it in a secure ballot box for special votes.
  • Your name is marked off the voters’ roll for your mission to indicate that you have cast a special vote.
  • When voting closes, the secure ballot box is returned via diplomatic mail to the national office of the Electoral Commission where it is stored securely until election day in South Africa (8 May).
  • Once voting closes on 8 May at 21h00, the sealed ballot boxes from missions around the world are opened in front of party agents and counted.
  • The votes for each party are added to the national total for each party on the results system.