Registering to vote

 

 

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.

Registering to vote is easy – you can now do it online!

If you want to register to vote in England or Wales, you can register online at gov.uk/register-to-vote.

If you want to register to vote in Scotland, all you need to do is follow the steps to fill in the registration form below, print it off and return it to the Electoral Registration Officer at your term-time local council.

Fill in a registration form to register to vote in Scotland

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.

What is the electoral register?

Registration officers keep two registers – the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as: detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service, checking credit applications.

The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.

Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

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?

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. For the referendum on independence for Scotland you can register to vote  if you are aged 15 now but will be aged 16 by 18 September 2014. 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote at the independence  referendum but won't be able to vote at other elections in Scotland until they 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.

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.

If you want to register to vote in England or Wales, you can register online at gov.uk/register-to-vote.

If you want to register to vote in Scotland, all you need to do is follow the steps to fill in the registration form below, print it off and return it to the Electoral Registration Officer at your local council.

For the referendum on independence for Scotland you will need to be registered by 2 September.

Fill in a registration form to register to vote in Scotland

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

United Kingdom General Election 2015

The 2015 United Kingdom General Election will take place on 7 May 2015.

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