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Referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union

On this page you can find out about the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union (EU).

Our role

Our focus is on voters and on putting their interests first.

Our objectives for referendums are that:

  • they should be well-run and produce results that are accepted
  • there should be integrity and transparency of campaign funding and expenditure

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Our responsibilities

We have specific responsibilities and functions in relation to the delivery and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA).

These apply to any referendum Bill brought before the UK Parliament unless specifically stated otherwise.

Our responsibilities under PPERA include:

Our responsibilities under PPERA include:

  • Commenting on the intelligibility of the referendum question.
  • Registering organisations or individuals who want to campaign in the referendum.
  • Monitoring spending on referendum campaigning, in line with the referendum spending limits imposed by PPERA.
  • Considering applications for designation as lead campaign groups for each referendum outcome.
  • Ensuring that designated organisations (if appointed) have access to certain assistance.
  • Reporting on the administration of the referendum and referendum campaign spending.

The Chair of the Commission, or someone they appoint, must act as Chief Counting Officer for the referendum and is responsible for certifying the outcome of the referendum.

Key dates

Friday 15 April Start of the referendum period
5pm Friday 3 June Northern Ireland deadline for applying for a postal and proxy vote (except for emergency proxies)
Tuesday 7 June Deadline to register to vote
5pm Wednesday 8 June Great Britain deadline for applying for a postal vote
5pm Wednesday 15 June

Great Britain deadline for applying for a proxy vote (except for emergency proxies)

Northern Ireland deadline for an emergency proxy vote

Thursday 23 June Polling day
5pm Thursday 23 June Great Britain deadline for an emergency proxy vote
Friday 23 September Deadline to submit spending return for registered campaigners that spent £250,000 or under during the referendum period
Friday 23 December Deadline to submit spending return for registered campaigners that spent over £250,000 during the referendum period

EU Referendum Act

The European Union Referendum Act (the Act) received Royal Assent on 17 December 2015 and was brought into force on Monday 1 February 2016.

The Act makes additions and amendments to the framework set out in PPERA to establish a regulatory framework for a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

All parliamentary briefings issued while the Bill progressed through Parliament are available here

Registering as a campaigner at the EU referendum

Individuals or organisations must register with us to become a ‘registered campaigner’ before spending more than £10,000 on referendum campaigning during the referendum period, which began on 15 April and ends on polling day, 23 June.

Separate registration is required even if an individual or organisation is already registered with us as a non-party campaigner or political party. All registered campaigners must follow the rules on spending, donations and reporting.

For more information on eligible individuals and organisations see Campaigning and registering for EU Referendum campaigners (PDF). Registration can be completed via our secure online registration area or by completing and returning Form EUR1 (PDF) to us.

You can view the details of campaigners that are registered with us on our online database.

Designating lead campaigners

A designated lead campaigner is the lead campaign group for one side of the debate. It will act as the lead campaign group on behalf of those campaigning for that outcome.

On 13 April 2016, we designated The In Campaign Ltd as the lead campaigner for the remain outcome and Vote Leave Ltd as the lead campaigner for the Leave outcome at the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

Read more about designation of lead campaigners

Guidance for EU referendum campaigners

We register campaigners in the EU referendum and provide advice and guidance on the spending and donations rules that campaigners must follow. Our guidance is available to help campaigners comply with the rules.

View our guidance for EU referendum campaigners

Question assessment

We carried out an assessment of the referendum question, to make sure that it is clear and easy for voters to understand.

Find out more on our EU Referendum question assessment page

Elections & referendums