Participating in municipal elections and elections to the European Parliament

Information about Rights & Duties of #Elections

Information about Rights & Duties

Participating in municipal elections and elections to the European Parliament

Participation in local elections

Like German voters, non-German EU citizens who are entitled to vote are automatically entered in the electoral roll for municipal elections if they are registered with the municipal authority on the reference date.

The preconditions for voting or standing as a candidate in municipal elections are the same as for German nationals. As the organisation of local elections falls within the competence of the Länder in Germany, these conditions may differ from one Land to another.

Voting in municipal elections is not compulsory.

Non-German EU citizens may become mayors, municipal councillors or councillors in some Länder , while in others this is not possible.

Voting in elections in your home country

When abroad, German citizens can still vote and stand as candidates in elections for the German Bundestag and European Parliament.

In order to be able to vote, German citizens usually must have lived in Germany for at least 3 months by election day or, for European Parliament elections, in another EU Member State. (For European Parliament elections the following applies: a consecutive stay in these areas is counted towards the 3-month period).

However, German citizens living abroad also have the right to vote if they had resided in Germany for at least one uninterrupted 3-month period after reaching the age of 14, provided that period was no more than 25 years before the election.

German citizens residing abroad who do not meet these conditions may still be entitled to vote if, for other reasons, they are personally and directly familiar with political circumstances in Germany and are affected by them.

Right to vote

In principle, voters may participate in elections for the German Bundestag or the European Parliament only if they are registered on the electoral roll in the Federal Republic of Germany. Applications to be included in the electoral roll must be made as soon as possible and submitted to the relevant municipal authorities no later than 21 days before the election.

If you are permanently resident outside Germany, you must register to vote in the German municipality in which you were last registered.

If you have never resided in Germany, you must register in the municipality you are most closely associated with (for elections for the German Bundestag) or at the borough council ( Bezirksamt ) for Berlin Mitte (for European Parliament elections).

Right to stand as a candidate

German nationals eligible to vote who are resident in Germany can obtain authorisation to stand as a candidate from their municipality of residence.

If you are not permanently resident in Germany, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is responsible for issuing the certificate. In this case, you should submit your application either to the diplomatic or consular mission of the Federal Republic of Germany responsible for your place of residence, or directly to the Ministry of the Interior.

Otherwise, the procedures for standing as a candidate are the same as those for Germans residing in Germany.

Voting in elections for the European Parliament

Non-German EU citizens can vote either in their country of origin (including, depending on the right to vote, by post or by ballot in their diplomatic missions or consular posts) or in Germany.

Non-German EU citizens who vote for the first time in Germany must be registered on the electoral roll for the European elections. The registration application must be submitted to the German municipality of residence no later than 21 days before the elections.

You will then be entered in the electoral roll for future European Parliament elections. This applies until you move to another Member State or deletion of the registration is requested.

To vote or stand as a candidate in European Parliament elections you must:

  • have EU citizenship
  • be resident in Germany
  • be at least 18 years old on election day
  • have had permanent residence in Germany or another EU Member State for at least 3 months (a consecutive stay in those areas is counted towards the 3-month period)
  • not be disqualified from voting or from standing as a candidate

Non-German EU citizens should contact their German municipality of residence to inform the authorities where they will vote in the European Parliament elections.

Voting in European Parliament elections is not compulsory.

Non-German EU citizens standing for election to the European Parliament must declare that they are not standing for election in any other country and are not disqualified from standing as a candidate.

In Germany, Members of the European Parliament are elected on the basis of lists of nominations. The nominations have to be submitted to the Federal Returning Officer by political parties or other political associations. Various documents must be submitted with the lists of nominations, including a form containing the declarations described above for EU citizens from other Member States standing as candidates. The form can be obtained from the state returning officers and from the Federal Returning Officer.

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community

Last update or date of publication
15.09.2020