Voter registration for South Africans abroad

Friday, December 7, 2018

South Africans living abroad will soon be able to register to vote in next year’s general elections at their respective foreign missions, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced on Thursday.

The IEC said the registration will take place from 1 - 4 February during office hours at South Africa’s 120 foreign missions, including high commissions, embassies and consulates worldwide.

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

“The finalisation of international voter registration follows the signing of a cooperation agreement with the department on registration and voting at diplomatic missions abroad,” said the IEC.

The election agency said the agreement gives effect to the Electoral Act 73 of 1998, which provides for all eligible South African citizens to register and vote in national elections. DIRCO has assisted the Electoral Commission with the registration and voting of citizens abroad since 1999.

“All South Africa citizens in possession of an official South African identity document (either a green barcoded ID book, a smartcard ID or a temporary ID certificate) are eligible to register as voters,” the IEC said.

Citizens who live abroad must present themselves in person at their nearest South African mission in order to register as voters. They will have to present South African identity document as well as a valid South African passport to apply.

“Citizens living abroad who are already registered to vote – either on the national or international segment of the voters’ roll – need not re-register but will be required to inform the Electoral Commission of their intention to vote outside of the country,” the IEC said.

This will be done by completing an online form (Notification and Application to CEO for Special Votes Abroad) indicating the mission at which they intend voting. This form will be available on the website at from the date the 2019 national election is proclaimed, for a 15-day period. 

The Electoral Commission will issue a notice to this effect after proclamation. For updates on the process to apply to vote abroad, follow the Electoral Commission on social media (@IECSouthAfrica on Twitter and Facebook) or visit the website

The date for the sixth democratic election is expected to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa early next year. The Constitution requires that the elections 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. The President has indicated his intention to call an election before the end of May 2019,” said the IEC. –