Voting by post
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. This section tells you how voting by post works.
In England and Wales, and from 19 September 2014 in Scotland, only electors who are (or will be) registered individually are entitled to apply to vote by post. For further information, you should contact your local electoral registration office. You can find the contact details in the ‘Your local area' panel – just enter your postcode for the correct office.
Once you are registered individually you need to fill in a postal vote application form.
You can apply to vote by post now - http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/register_to_vote/postal_vote_application.aspx – we’ll take you through the process. After completing the form, you’ll need to print it, 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 application 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 vote and is used to tackle electoral fraud.
Who can apply for a postal vote?
Anyone who is individually registered can apply for a postal vote. You do not need a reason to vote by post. (This does not apply in Northern Ireland - see the Electoral Office website - http://www.eoni.org.uk/index/forms-and-leaflets/postal_and_proxy_voting.htm - for more information).
Where can I get my postal vote sent?
A postal vote can be sent to your home address or to any other address that you give. Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you need to consider whether there will be enough time to receive and return your ballot paper by election day.
When will I receive my ballot papers?
Postal vote packs are usually sent out about a week before election day. For the Scottish independence referendum you should receive your postal vote pack up to two weeks before the day of the referendum, but if you haven’t received it by Friday 12 September, contact your local council.
Once you’ve got it, mark your vote on the ballot paper and make sure you send it back so that it arrives by close of poll (which is 10pm on the day of the election/referendum). If it arrives later than this your vote won’t be counted.
When you get your postal voting papers:
Put them somewhere safe
Don't let anyone else handle them
Make sure they are not left where someone else can pick them up
When you want to vote:
Complete your ballot paper in secret, on your own
Don't let anyone else vote for you
Don't let anyone else see your vote
Don't give the ballot paper to anyone else
Put the ballot paper in the envelope and seal it up yourself
Complete and sign the postal voting statement
Put the postal voting statement and the envelope containing your ballot paper into the larger envelope and seal it.
When you return your postal vote:
Take it to the post box yourself, if you can
If you can't do that, either give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you,
or ring your local electoral registration office, to ask if they can collect it from you
Don't hand it to a candidate or party worker unless no other way is practical
Don't leave it where someone else can pick it up
Remember that this is your vote - so keep it to yourself
If anyone tries to help you against your will, or force you to give them your postal vote, you should contact the police. If you have any other queries, ring your local electoral registration office – you can get their contact details on this site by entering your postcode.
More questions about voting by post? Have a look at our Frequently Asked Questions.