Registering to vote

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Registering to vote

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in UK elections and referendums. This section gives you information about how to register to vote. If you already know how, and you want to get on with it, just click on register to vote and we’ll take you through the process.

Did you know that you don't have to wait until you are 18 to register to vote? There are lots of myths and misunderstandings about registering to vote – you can look at some of these, with the truth, on our common myths page. You can also look at some of the reasons why you should register to vote.

I want to register to vote right now!

No problem – just click on register to vote and we’ll take you through the process. Once you’ve completed your form, you’ll need to print it off, sign it, and send it back to your local electoral registration office. You can get their address and other contact details by entering your postcode on this site.

You need to sign your registration form personally because the electoral registration office needs a copy of your signature for voting security reasons. We know it’s slightly less convenient than submitting it online, but it helps to ensure the security of your registration.

What is the electoral register?

The electoral register is a list of the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote. There are two versions of the electoral register - the full register and the edited register.

The full register lists the name and address of everyone who is registered to vote and is updated every month. You do not have a choice about your details being on this register. A copy is held at your local council (electoral registration office in Scotland; the Electoral Office in Northern Ireland). Anyone can look at it and make notes but copies can only be supplied for certain purposes. The main use of the full register is to show who can vote in elections and referendums. Credit reference agencies can use it, but only to check your name and address if you are applying for credit. It can also be used for law enforcement purposes.

The edited register is available for general sale and can be used for any purpose. The edited register is kept separate from the full register, and can be bought by any person, company or organisation and can be used for commercial activities such as marketing. You can choose not to be on the edited register by ticking the appropriate box on the annual canvass or rolling registration form.

Anonymous registration

If you are concerned about the register affecting your personal security, the Electoral Administration Act 2006 introduced the ability to register anonymously. Anyone who does not wish for their name to appear on the register can apply to their Electoral Registration Officer to be registered anonymously, although good reason would have to be provided for this. Applicants would need documentary evidence of a Court Order or attestation from certain persons to support their application.

If you are registered anonymously, instead of your name and address appearing on the electoral register a code will be added to the end of the section of the register for your polling district. Instead of including you on the annual canvass form, the Electoral Registration Officer will contact you separately and in such a way as to not reveal that you are registered anonymously. You should receive polling cards as usual.

Anyone who has concerns about their name appearing on the electoral register should contact their local electoral registration office for further information.

Who can register?

You can register to vote if you are:

  • 16 years old or over and
  • a British citizen*
  • or an Irish, Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK

If you are 16 or 17, you can only register if you will be 18 within the lifetime of the electoral register. You cannot vote until you are 18.

See a full list of eligible Commonwealth and European Union nationalities.

To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a 'Commonwealth citizen' includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

*If you live in Scotland you can vote in the Scottish referendum if you will be aged 16 or over by the date of the referendum (18 September 2014).  If you are currently aged 15 but will be aged 16 by the date of the referendum  then you can register to vote now. You can visit our Scottish referendum page for more information.

When can I register?

You can register at any time throughout the year as the register is updated every month. This is useful if you move house and need to register at your new address. Click on register to vote and we’ll take you through the process.

However, most people in Great Britain register every year when the local council delivers a registration form direct to your home. This is called the annual canvass and all you need to do is return the form to the local electoral registration office to ensure you’re registered. This year, the form will be delivered between October and March.

In Northern Ireland there is no longer an annual canvass – once you’re registered, you just need to update your registration if your details change or if you move home. If you need to do this we can take you through the process – just click on register to vote.

Am I already registered to vote?

Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission cannot check if you are registered to vote, as electoral registration is managed locally by electoral registration offices in local authorities (in Scotland they may be a separate office; in Northern Ireland it is the Electoral Office). In order to check if you are registered, you will need to contact the Electoral Registration Officer for your area - you can get their contact details by entering your postcode on this website.

More questions about registering to vote? You can also look at our Frequently Asked Questions.

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Electoral information

European Parliamentary Elections 2014

The 2014 European Parliamentary elections will take place on 22 May 2014.

Don't miss out - ensure you're registered to vote by completing the voter registration form on this website.

Local Council Elections 2014

The 2014 local council elections will take place on 22 May 2014.

Your Electoral Registration Office

City of London
Electoral Registration Officer
PO Box 270
0800 587 5537
Email City of London