Registering to vote

Introduction

If you want to vote in an election or referendum in Ireland you must be:

To be eligible to vote, you must be resident in Ireland. Also, your eligibility to vote in different types of elections depends on your citizenship.

  • Irish citizens can vote in every election and referendum
  • British citizens can vote in Dáil, European and local elections
  • EU citizens can vote in European and local elections
  • Non-EU citizens can vote in local elections

This document explains how to register to vote, and what to do if your situation has changed since the last election or referendum took place. Being registered to vote means that your name has been entered on one of the following lists:

  • The main Register of Electors
  • The Postal Voters List
  • The Special Voters List
  • Or a supplement to one of these 3 lists

Register of Electors

Each local authority must put together and publish a list of voters in its area. This is called the Register of Electors.

To be eligible for inclusion in the Register of Electors, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old on the day the Register comes into force (15 February). You can add your name to the draft Register before you turn 18.
  • Have been ordinarily resident in the State on 1 September in the year before the Register comes into force.

You can check the Register at local authority offices, Garda stations and public libraries, or online at checktheregister.ie.

To add your details to the Register of Electors, you complete form RFA and return it to your local authority. You do not need to pay for postage. If you live in Dublin, you can register online at voter.ie if you have a verified MyGov account.

The Register of Electors is published on 1 February each year and comes into force on 15 February. To be entered on the published Register for 2020, you must have registered before 25 November 2019.

If the information in the Register is incorrect, or your situation has changed, you can complete form RFA1 and send it to your local authority by 25 November 2020 (to be included in the Register that comes into force on 15 February 2021).

If you have not registered on the draft register by 25 November, or your situation changes after this date, you can still register to vote by applying to the Supplement to the Register of Electors

Supplement to the Register of Electors

If your name is not on the Register of Electors on 15 February, you can apply to be included in a supplement to it, using form RFA2. This will allow you to vote in any election or referendum held during the year.

You can apply at any time. However, you can only be included in the supplement used at an election or referendum if your local authority gets your application at least 15 days before polling day. Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose.

If you have changed address, you use form RFA3 to apply for inclusion on the supplement at your new address. This will also remove you from the register for your previous address. There are detailed guidance notes on the form.

Postal voters and special voters lists

Voting by post

Most voters have to vote in person at an official voting centre. However, you may be eligible for a postal vote if you are:

  • An Irish diplomat posted abroad, or their spouse or civil partner who is living abroad with them
  • A member of the Garda Síochána
  • A whole-time member of the Defence Forces

You may also be eligible for a postal vote if you cannot go to a polling station because:

  • You have a physical illness or disability
  • You are studying full time at an educational institution in Ireland, which is away from the home address where you are registered
  • You cannot vote at your local polling station because of your occupation, service or employment
  • You are unable to vote at your polling station because you are in prison as a result of an order of a court

People who are eligible to vote by post are registered on the Postal Voters list. Applications for inclusion on the Postal Voters List must be received by 25 November at the latest. If you miss this deadline, or become eligible to vote by post after 25 November, you can apply to the Supplement to the Postal Voters List.

The latest date for receipt of applications is:

  • 2 days after the date of dissolution of the Dáil in the case of a general election
  • 2 days after the date of the order appointing polling day in the case of a Dáil bye-election
  • 22 days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) before polling day for other elections or referendums

Application forms are available on checktheregister.ie and from your local authority.

If you are registered as a postal voter, you may only vote by post. You may not vote at a polling station.

Special Voters List

You may qualify to be on a Special Voters List if you live in a hospital, nursing home or similar institution and wish to vote at these locations. Your application must be received by the local authority by 25 November. If you are applying for the first time you must send a medical certificate with your application.

If you miss the deadline, or become eligible to join the Special Voters List after the 25 November, you can apply to be added to the Supplement to the Special Voters List.

The latest date for receipt of applications is:

  • 2 days after the date of dissolution of the Dáil in the case of a general election
  • 2 days after the date of the order appointing polling day in the case of a Dáil bye-election
  • 22 days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) before polling day for other elections or referenda

Application forms are available on checktheregister.ie and from your local authority, Garda station or post office.

You can read more about voting facilities for people with disabilities.

Register of Electors and direct marketing

Local authorities publish 2 versions of the Register of Electors: the Full Register and the Edited Register.

The Full Register lists everyone who is entitled to vote. Once a Full Register has been published, it can only be used for an electoral or other statutory purpose.

The Edited Register contains the names and addresses of voters who have given their permission for their details to be used for other purposes (for example, for direct marketing use by a commercial company or other organisation).

If you do not want your details to be included in the Edited Register, you should tick the 'out' option box on the registration form..

It is an offence for an organisation to use the full electoral register for direct marketing purposes. Find out more about how to deal with unsolicited direct marketing material.

Student voters

If you are studying away from home while attending college, you can register at either your home address or your student residential address.

  • You must be registered at one address only and you must live at that address on 1 September before the register comes into force.
  • If you live away from the address at which you are registered, you will need to contact the registration authority and give them your new address, or
  • If you leave your address but you plan to return there within 18 months, you can continue to be registered there, as long you do not register at any other address
  • Students can register to vote by post if they are currently registered, but unable to go to their polling station because they are studying away from home. To register to vote by post, complete form PVS2 and send it to the local authority in the area where you want to vote. See 'Postal voters' above for more information.

New Irish citizens

If you are on the Register of Electors and you become an Irish citizen, you should send form RFA5 to your local authority. If you are registered as a non-Irish citizen, you are not eligible to vote in some elections and referendums. This form must be received by your local authority at least 2 weeks before polling day.

If you are not registered, you should send an RFA2 form to your local authority.

Overseas voters

If you are an Irish citizen living abroad, you cannot be added to the Register of Electors unless you are an Irish official on duty abroad (or their spouse or civil partner).

In its fifth report in 2013, the Convention on the Constitution recommended that Irish citizens resident outside the State should have the right to vote in presidential elections. Following this recommendation, the Government announced plans for a referendum to amend the Constitution to allow Irish citizens living outside the State (including in Northern Ireland) to vote in presidential elections.

A date for this proposed referendum has not been finalised.

Useful contacts and links

You can download application forms for inclusion on the Electoral Register, Special Voters List, Postal Voters List and the amended Electoral Register from checktheregister.ie. Forms are also available from all local authorities, post offices and public libraries.

Return the completed form to your local authority.

To register in Dublin, you can also register online, at voter.ie, if you have a Public Services Card and a MyGovID verified account.

You can get more information on voter registration from your local authority, or the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Franchise Section

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

Custom House
Dublin 1
D01 W6X0
Ireland

Tel: (01) 888 2000
Locall: 1890 20 20 21


Page edited: 21 August 2020