The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Political party registration

This page provides an overview of what parties are required to do when they register with us. If you wish to register a party with us, or you are a registered party looking for assistance, please go to our guidance page on registering and maintaining a political party.

If you are thinking about setting up a political party, you may need to register with us. If you do, you will need to follow certain rules. Once you have registered with us, your candidates can use your party name, description and emblem on ballot papers at elections.

Registration applications ahead of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections on 2 March 2017

Whilst we will endeavor to process any registration applications received as quickly as possible, because of the short time frame we are unable to guarantee that you will receive a decision from the Commission before the close of nominations for this election in time for use on the ballot paper.

If you do intend to submit a registration application ahead of the elections, please ensure you do so as a matter of urgency.

Deadline for registration applications ahead of the May 2017 polls

In order to receive a decision from the Commission before the deadline for nominations for an election in May 2017 you need to have submitted your application by Friday 10 February 2017.

If we receive a complete application by this deadline date, either to register a new political or to change an existing party's details, we guarantee to assess it and provide our decision before the close of nominations.

We cannot guarantee that any application received after Friday 10 February 2017 will receive a decision in time for inclusion on a ballot paper for May 2017.

Registration requirements for political parties

When registering, parties need to provide us with some information about their party structure, including a financial scheme, their constitution and details of any branches of the party that manage their own finances (“accounting units”). They must also appoint people to the official roles of:

  • Party leader
  • Treasurer
  • Nominating officer

Registered parties must keep details of these roles up to date and inform us of any changes. Every year we ask parties to confirm their registration details in an annual registration confirmation.

We publish details of registered political parties on our online database:

The details of registered parties that we publish online include:

  • party emblems
  • party descriptions
  • names of people appointed to official roles
  • a list of registered accounting units

We do not publish parties’ constitutions. However, we provide copies on request.

Rules on names, descriptions and emblems

There are rules on the names, descriptions and emblems that parties can register with us. These rules are intended to make ballot papers clear and easy to use and avoid the use of offensive names.

Cost of registration

All parties must pay a registration fee when registering with us. They also have to pay a smaller fee every year to stay registered. Current fees are explained in our guidance on registering and maintaining a political party.

Responsibilities and obligations as a registered political party

When parties register with us they have a number of on-going responsibilities and obligations. These include complying with rules on campaign spending, sources of funding and a certain reporting requirements to ensure political finances are transparent.

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