open Secondary menu

News Releases and Media Advisories

Notice: On July 20, 2015, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned this ruling – learn more.

Five-year Rule Eliminated for Canadian Electors Residing Abroad

Gatineau, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

  • On May 2, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice invalidated certain provisions of the Canada Elections Act that prevented non-resident electors from voting by special ballot in federal electoral events if the electors had resided abroad for five consecutive years or more. The decision is effective immediately. Accordingly, Elections Canada will no longer apply those provisions.
  • Now, Canadian citizens aged 18 or older who reside abroad may apply to be added to the International Register of Electors and to vote by mail-in special ballot in federal general elections, by-elections and referendums, provided they have at some point resided in Canada.
  • When a federal general election, by-election or referendum is called, Elections Canada will mail a special ballot voting kit to all eligible electors whose names appear in the International Register.
  • Before this court ruling, Canadians residing abroad could vote by special ballot if they had resided abroad for fewer than five consecutive years and intended to move back to Canada in the future. Certain electors were exempt from the five-year rule, such as those serving abroad in the Canadian Forces or working at embassies abroad.

Vote. Shape your world.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

Elections Canada Media Relations
or at