The 2023 referendum
The referendum has been announced and will be held on 14 October 2023. If you'll be overseas during the referendum voting period, you can still have your say.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to provide the safest and most effective voting services possible.
If you would like to vote overseas in this referendum, options to vote include in-person and postal voting.
Voting in a referendum is not compulsory for Australians overseas. If you’re unable to vote because you're overseas, you'll need to advise the AEC. If you don't inform them, the AEC will write to you asking you to explain why you didn't vote.
In-person voting will be available in some locations overseas – see the list of locations on the AEC website. Contact your nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate for further details on when and how to vote in-person. Note that overseas in-person centres may become unavailable at short notice if the local security situation changes.
If you prefer to vote by postal vote and are outside Australia, check your enrolment and complete a postal vote application.
The AEC recommends you request a postal vote as soon as possible to ensure you receive, complete, and return your vote in time for it to be counted. To be counted, your postal vote must be completed and witnessed by 6pm AWST on 14 October 2023. The AEC can only accept ballot papers received in Australia by 27 October 2023 (13 days after the election).
You can send your postal vote directly to the AEC in Australia. Alternatively, you may be able to send it or drop it off at a participating Australian embassy, high commission or consulate which will return your postal vote to the AEC on your behalf.
The full list of overseas in-person and postal vote collection locations is on the AEC website. Refer to the website of the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate for further details on available services.
2023 Referendum - important dates
- 11 September - postal vote applications opened
- 18 September - enrolment closes at 8pm AWST
- From 2 October - in-person early voting starts (varies between overseas voting centres, check the operating hours of your nearest Australia embassy, high commission, or consulate)
- 11 October - postal vote applications close at 6pm AWST
- 14 October - referendum day
- 27 October - last day for votes to be received
For more information on how to vote, visit the AEC website.
If you're overseas on the day of a federal election, you can still have your say.
Voting is compulsory in Australia. But being overseas is a valid reason for not voting. If you can't vote because you're overseas, you'll need to advise the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
Check your enrolment
If an election is announced while you're overseas, check with the AEC:
- the enrolment deadlines
- your enrolment status
- your details on the electoral roll
- overseas voting options
To vote while overseas, you must be on the electoral roll. To check your enrolment, use the AEC website.
See the AEC's information on enrolling to vote overseas.
Voting by post
If you're travelling overseas short-term, you may be able to vote early (either in-person or by post) before you leave Australia. You can apply for a postal vote when an election is called.
If you're living or working overseas, you may be able to register as an overseas elector. You must intend to return to Australia within 6 years and have an Australian address to register. You can choose to become a general postal voter at the time of registering or at a separate time.
Voting at an Australian embassy or consulate
You can vote at some Australian embassies or consulates overseas. The AEC provides a list of places where you can vote when an election is called.
Not all embassies or consulates can take votes. Contact your nearest embassy or consulate to find out
- if they are offering in-person voting
- their opening dates and hours for voting
- if you need to make an appointment to vote
- their security or entry requirements, especially in high-risk locations
Check your enrolment before going to vote. You need to know which Australian address you're enrolled at to get the correct ballot papers.
State and territory elections
Some states and territories allow overseas voting. Others don't or may only allow specific voting methods.
Check the electoral commission website for your state or territory for more information.
- See our Consular Services Charter to see what services we can provide Australians overseas.
- See our advice about living and working overseas.