Legal: EU and UK Citizens Voting rights in Portugal

Legal: EU and UK Citizens Voting rights in Portugal

If you are an EU national living in another EU country, you have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal and European Parliament elections held in that country. The conditions are the same for you as for Portuguese nationals.

Due to Brexit, many UK nationals that were not registered as a resident in Portugal by 31 December 2020, will not be entitled to vote in local municipal elections.

However, if you qualify and haven't registered yet, we recommend that you do so, as it enables your voice to be heard on matters that affect your local residential area and may have a direct impact on you, your family, or your business (if you are running a business in Portugal).

The truth is that if you are a qualifying registered resident living permanently in any council area in Portugal, or run a local business, voting in the upcoming election is important. I have been informed that many Expats/Immigrants feel they would be "intruding" on local Portuguese politics if they register for voting. Nothing could be further from reality.

As a qualifying registered resident its your right to have your voice heard and to look after your own personal interests. Public consultations, and municipal meetings are all opportunities for you to make your voice heard in the interest of protecting you and your family.

As a result, I invite you to vote ... (but to do that you need to register first at your local freguesia)

Especially now ... that many laws are being passed "quietly" that could have major ramifications for you in the future.

Voting enables you to know who your locally elected representative is. Just knowing whom to speak too, gives you major advantages when you need to get things moving at the local council, or you just need to raise valid concerns or objections during such events as public open meetings and public consultations.

Word of advice. Just choose your political representative wisely.


Bottom line?

if you live in Portugal and meet the voter registration conditions, you have the same voting rights as any Portuguese citizen

(Municipal / EU election process ONLY - NOT FOR NATIONAL ELECTIONS)


Municipal elections – Portugal

Any European Union citizen can vote and stand for election in local elections immediately after arriving in Portugal. No minimum period of residence is required. And UK nationals that had they residency registered before December 2020, also qualify. Although those UK nationals arriving in Portugal after the end of 2020, or not officialy registered by 1 January 2021 will not qualify to be registered to vote or to be added onto the voters role.

To be able to vote, they must

  • be aged over 18
  • be on the local authority's electoral roll (you have to be registered at least two months before election date to be able to vote in an upcoming municipal election)
  • be legally resident in Portugal
  • not be debarred from voting in their country of origin.
  • UK nationals that where already registered as residents before January 2021

A residency document and proof of address are required to register on the electoral roll. Inscriptions must take place at least 60 days before an election. Electors will be enrolled on the electoral list of their parish (Freguesia), at the address which is indicated on the residence permit. You can get a resident permit at your local municipality, or at SEF.

Voting takes place within designated venues at the local Junta de Freguesia (Parish), which is a sub division of the local municipality.

For this purpose they must

  • submit a valid identity document
  • provide proof of legal residence in Portugal, in the form of an EU citizen's registration certificate (Certificado de Registo de cidadão da UE - that you get at your local municipality) or an EU citizen's permanent residence certificate (Certificado de Residência Permanente de cidadão da UE - you get this one at SEF).

Voting is voluntary, so there is no penalty of any kind for not doing so.


To stand for election, EU citizens must

EU citizens can stand for election and be elected to any local authority body, provided that they have not been debarred in their country of origin from the right to vote or to be elected.

  • submit an application to stand for election in the legally sanctioned manner
  • submit a formal statement setting out their nationality, their place of residence in Portugal and their last residence in their country of origin
  • provide evidence that they have not been debarred from the right to be elected

Should there be any doubt about this last point, the competent court may require the competent authorities of the country of origin to testify that the candidate has not been debarred from the right to be elected in that country, or that the authorities in question are not aware of any such impediment.





Information Updated 28 February 2021