How to vote from outside Canada

Shelby Thevenot
Published: September 5, 2021

Canadian citizens who are abroad this election season can still vote by mail before September 14.

If you are age 18 or older by September 20, you can vote in the Canadian election even if you are not in your riding. You just have to apply on the Elections Canada website or by mail before Tuesday, September 14, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Voters in Canada may be able to contact their local election office before 6 p.m. local time, but if you are outside the country you are beholden to the deadline in Ottawa.

Learn about Canada’s immigration system

The general rule of thumb for voting by mail is to get your vote in as quickly as possible. If Elections Canada receives your vote after voting day, by law they cannot count it.

It is a three step process for Canadians who are voting from another country.

Step 1: Register

The first step is to apply to vote by mail, and get on the International Register of Electors. Canadian embassies, high commissions or consulates do not process applications or voting kits, but they may print off the application form if you are applying to vote by mail.

In order to register to vote, you need to submit ID showing that you are old enough, have citizenship status, and have ever had a Canadian address. For Canadians voting from abroad they ask for your passport, Canadian citizenship certificate or card, or Canadian birth certificate. You do not need to still be a resident of Canada, as long as you have citizenship status it is fine if you have lived in Canada at some point in your life.

There are 49 documents listed on the Elections Canada website that are other acceptable forms of identification. Even expired IDs are acceptable.

If you no longer have any Canadian IDs, you can still vote but you need to declare your identity and Canadian address in writing. Also, someone from your riding who knows you has to vouch for you. That person must be able to prove their identity and address, and they can only do it for one person at a time.

While you are waiting, you can check the status of your request online, with your reference number and last name.

Step 2: Vote

After you are approved, Canada will mail you a voting kit. There you can choose the candidate you want to vote for.

There will be detailed instructions on how to submit your vote.

For these special ballots, you will not have a list of candidates to choose from. Instead, there will be a blank space for you to write the name of the candidate you want to vote for.

As of August 30, the list of candidates is final. To find the list of confirmed candidates, you can search the Elections Canada website. Alternatively, you can ask most Canadian embassies, high commissions and consulates.

Step 3: Mail

Mail in your vote following the instructions provided. The kit you receive to vote will contain a pre-addressed return envelope with prepaid postage. If you want to expedite your delivery to meet the deadline you can do so, but at your own cost.

Learn about Canada’s immigration system

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