British urged to register soon as election date approaches

The election will be announced 17 working days before Britain goes to the polls.

ABU DHABI // The 200,000 Britons living in the UAE are being urged to register for voting as a general election looms. No date has yet been set for the election, but it is widely expected to take place on May 6. Those who leave registration until the election is announced will have just a six-day window to post their forms. "The key really is that people should register as soon as possible," said Euan Holloway, a spokesman for the Electoral Commission, an independent watchdog.

"If you wait for the announcement, you've only got six working days to register, so if you are out in the UAE, and have to post your registration forms back to the UK, that doesn't leave much time. To minimise the risk of missing out, we are saying do it now." The election will be announced 17 working days before Britain goes to the polls, with the deadline for registration 11 working days before the vote. British citizens living abroad can register as overseas voters if they registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years.

There are several voting options - postal voting, proxy voting or proxy postal voting, but all involve posting registration forms back to Britain. Residents cannot vote at the British Embassy. The commission said voters further afield should not use postal ballots since they were sent out about a week before the election. "The rule of thumb we say to everyone outside Europe is proxy is probably best unless you have a superb postal system," said Mr Holloway.

Using the proxy vote option, an overseas resident can nominate a person they trust to vote on their behalf. If that person does not live in the same constituency, they can vote through a postal proxy vote. Full details and registration forms are available at