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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.

Deadline for registration applications ahead of the May 2017 polls

The deadline to receive a decision on any registration applications for the May 2017 polls has now passed.

Registration applications ahead of the June 2017 UK Parliamentary general election

Because of the short time until the polls, we are unable to guarantee that any application lodged to register a new political party, amend a party name, amend or add an emblem, or to add a description will receive a decision in time for use on the ballot paper at the election.

In order to appear on the ballot paper, a party’s name, description or emblem must be registered with the Commission  by 9 May 2017, which is two days before the deadline for delivery of nomination papers to the Returning Officer.

The Commission must carefully assess applications in respect of party names, descriptions and emblems against the criteria set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, in order to reach a fair conclusion on registration, within the legislative requirements. Whilst we process all applications as quickly as possible, undertaking this necessary assessment process means that it is likely that a decision on any new applications will not be granted until after the deadline for delivery of nomination papers.

Please note if you are seeking to register a party in order to stand at the election and you do not receive a decision on your application in time, you may choose to stand as an independent candidate at the June 2017 UK Parliamentary general election.

Applications to substitute or remove a description

Because of the short time until the polls, we are unable to guarantee that any application lodged to substitute or remove a description will receive a decision in time for use on the ballot paper at the election.

If an application to substitute or remove a description is granted at any time between:

  • the date of publication of the notice of election (including the date of publication) at an election in which there are one or more candidates standing in the name of the party, and
  • the poll at the election,

the change does not take effect until the day following the poll.

This means that where a decision is granted on an application to substitute or remove a description on the day of publication of the notice of election or after, it will not take effect with regard to what can appear on the ballot paper for that election.

Please note that the notice of election must be published no earlier than 5 May 2017 and no later than 8 May 2017.

Unfortunately that means that it is likely that a decision on any new applications will not be granted until after the deadline for delivery of nomination papers

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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