Who can vote in the referendum on Scottish independence?


Who can vote in the referendum on Scottish independence?


The list of those who are eligible to vote in the referendum is almost the same as for elections to the Scottish Parliament and local authorities, but with the addition of 16 and 17 year olds.  Remember that you must register with your local electoral registration office to be able to vote - simple instructions about how to do this can be found on the Electoral Commission website

The following groups of people can register to vote in the referendum:

  • British citizens resident in Scotland.
  • Qualifying Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland. This means Commonwealth citizens who either have leave to remain in the UK or do not require such leave, and are resident in Scotland.
  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland and other EU countries resident in Scotland.
  • Members of the House of Lords resident in Scotland.
  • Service/Crown personnel serving in the UK or overseas in the Armed Forces or with Her Majesty’s Government who are registered to vote in Scotland.


What if I'm out of the country on the date of the referendum?

If you will be out of the country on 18th September you can arrange to vote by post, or to have someone vote on your behalf ("by proxy").  If you register to vote by post, your postal ballot will be sent out around 26th to 28th August.  Again, you can obtain and return the necessary forms from your Electoral Registration Officer or download them from the Electoral Commission website.  

Arrangements for service personnel registered to vote in Scotland but likely to be serving outside of the country at the time of the referendum will be the same as for other elections.  Service personnel in this position can register as "service voters" for five years.  This would give them the option of postal and proxy voting.  Most will use proxy voting as postal voting can be difficult to complete in the time required.

The franchise for the referendum was finalised by the Scottish Parliament, after the general principles were agreed by the UK and Scottish Governments in October 2012.  

Citizenship, Government