Right to vote of Germans living abroad
The following explanation is given for your information only. It is no longer possible to fill in and file the application as the application period has expired.
1. General information
Germans living abroad will be permitted to vote in the election to the 17th German Bundestag in 2009 provided the following conditions are fulfilled:
- Germans living outside the Federal Republic of Germany who are not registered there are entitled to vote in the Bundestag election provided that
- they are German citizens pursuant to Article 116 of the Basic Constitutional Law,
- they have completed their 18th year of age until the day of the election,
- they have lived in the Federal Republic of Germany for a minimum of three months in a row after 23 May 1949, and
- they are not denied the right to vote.
The exclusion from the right to vote of German citizens residing outside the Member States of the Council of Europe who had departed from the Federal Republic of Germany more than 25 years ago, which was still in force for the last Bundestag and European elections, was deleted by the Act amending the elections and members of parliament law of 17 March 2008 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 394).
- German citizens living abroad and complying with the requirements specified above need to have their names entered in due time in the register of voters of their last home municipality in Germany. To this end, a written application has to be submitted on a special form, while at the same time, the Germans concerned have to affirm in lieu of an oath that they are entitled to vote.
- The application forms for entry in a register of voters for the Bundestag election may be obtained
- by download (PDF file) on this website (see below)
- in spring 2009 as printed forms
- from all embassies and consulates of the Federal Republic of Germany,
- from the Federal Returning Officer and
- from all constituency returning officers in Germany.
Together with their own application forms, applicants may obtain forms for family members, friends or colleagues. Firms and associations may request delivery of the required number of application forms for their staff abroad.
- German citizens living abroad have to submit their own application for entry in the register of voters together with an affirmation in lieu of an oath that they are entitled to vote. These documents have to be sent to the municipality where they were last registered before leaving the Federal Republic of Germany.
The applications on the above forms must have been received by the competent authority in Germany on the 21st day before the day of the election at the latest, i.e. on 6 September 2009 at the latest. Therefore, the completed application forms should be returned as soon as possible.
- After German citizens living abroad and eligible to vote have been entered in the register of voters, they will be provided with the documents required for postal vote (polling card, ballot paper, voting envelope, ballot-letter envelope, and sheet of notes for postal voters) without further request about one month before the day of the election.
The voters will have to return in the sealed official ballot-letter envelope
- the polling card and the affirmation in lieu of an oath and
- the ballot paper in the sealed official voting envelope. The documents will have to be returned to the authority indicated on the ballot-letter envelope in good time for this authority to receive them at the latest by 6 p.m. on the day of the election.
- Germans living abroad and wishing to vote in the 2009 Election to the German Bundestag should act in due time because of the specific character of the procedure and the possibly long forwarding times for mail. In the foreign press, the German missions abroad will provide information on the opportunity for Germans living abroad to vote in the impending elections. Some German missions also offer a service for delivery of ballot-letter envelopes for postal vote. Please refer to your local German mission for further information. Additionally, relatives and friends living in the Federal Republic of Germany and firms in Germany who employ staff abroad should draw the attention of their relatives, friends and staff abroad to the opportunity and formalities of voting in the election to the 17th German Bundestag.
2. Important information for persons returning to Germany
If a German returns to Germany, the usual period of three months does not apply. According to this rule, Germans are only eligible to vote if they have had a domicile or have otherwise been permanently resident in the Federal Republic of Germany for at least three months. In addition, the following rules apply:
- If you return to Germany and will be registered with a domicile before the 35th day before the election (23 August 2009), you must not file the application for Germans living abroad as you will be entered in the register of voters of the municipality you register with ex officio.
- If you will be registered before the 21st day before the election (6 September 2009), you do not have to file this application. If you state your wish to be registered as a voter - for instance when being registered with a domicile - you wil e enterd in the register of voters of the municipality you are moving to. However, if you have already applied for entry in an register of voters, you have to exercise your right to vote at the municipality where you have been entered in the register of voters.
- If you will only be registered in Germany after the 21st day before the election (6 September 2009), you have to file an application for entry in a register of voters until the 21st day before the election (6 September 2009) as you will not be entered in a register of voters unless you apply for it. Please refer to the German version of this website for further information.
©2013 The Federal Returning Officer