All Bangladeshi expats living abroad will eventually be able to cast their votes in general elections from overseas, as the country’s Election Commission plans to issue National Identity (NID) cards to Bangladeshi expatriates in at least 40 countries over the next five years.
NID services will soon be rolled out in five or six countries, including Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and the UK, a top official said.
“We will go to the 40 largest host countries of expatriates in phases over the next five years. We will initially start NID services in 5-6 countries,” Brig Gen Saidul Islam, director general of the EC’s National Identity Registration Wing, told UNB.
To apply for an NID card, expatriates will need to attach six documents with the application form. Among them are copies of their passports, dual citizenship certificates or approval letters from the Bangladesh Home Ministry.
A copy of the passport of another Bangladeshi expatriate identifying the applicant as a Bangladeshi and a statement of blood relation living in Bangladesh with name, mobile number and NID card copy will also be required.
Furthermore, a declaration from the applicant that they are not registered in electoral rolls anywhere in Bangladesh, and a certificate from the local Bangladeshi mission are needed.
During the pre-Covid-19 period, the EC had started online registration of Bangladeshi expatriates in four countries — Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK — after CEC KM Nurul Huda and Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed jointly inaugurated the overseas voter registration program in Malaysia last November.
A total of 738 expatriates from the four countries also applied for NID cards before the Covid-19 pandemic. Among them, 530 online applications came from the UAE, 121 from the UK, 48 from Malaysia and 39 from Saudi Arabia.