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Guidance for campaigners for the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union

There are rules campaigners must follow on campaign spending, donations and reporting in the run up to the referendum. We regulate those rules.

We register campaigners in a referendum and provide advice and guidance on the rules on spending and donations that campaigners must follow. Our guidance is here to help campaigners comply with the rules. You do not have to follow this guidance, but if you do, you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law.

Designated lead campaigners

The Electoral Commission has the statutory duty to appoint designated lead campaign groups for each side of the referendum campaign or for one side only. The designated campaigner will act as the lead campaign group on behalf of those campaigning for that outcome.

We have 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.

You can find more information on designation here: The designation process for the EU referendum (PDF).

Commencement of referendum period

Before a referendum is held, there is a formal campaigning period called the ‘referendum period’. During this period, certain rules on campaigning and spending apply.

The referendum period starts on 15 April 2016 and ends on 23 June 2016. The spending limits apply during this period.

If you want to spend more than £10,000 during the referendum period you must register with us (PDF).

Pre-poll reporting

In the run up to the referendum, registered campaigners (other than registered political parties, but including minor parties) must report certain donations and loans to us. This is called pre-poll reporting.

The first pre-poll reporting period for registered campaigners is 1 February – 21 April 2016. The deadline for the first pre-poll report is 28 April 2016.

Read further information on pre-poll reporting (PDF).

Updates

We are publishing a series of updates to keep you informed about the referendum and when we will publish further guidance.

Sign up to receive updates by email

Regular updates for referendum campaigners

Update for referendum campaigners No.8 – 13 April 2016 (PDF)

  • appointment of designated lead campaigners
  • start of referendum period
  • register of campaigners
  • where you can find further information

Update for referendum campaigners No.7 – 31 March 2016 (PDF)

  • referendum timetable
  • guidance for campaigners
  • registering as a campaigner
  • designated lead campaign groups
  • EU Referendum public information booklet information
  • where you can find further information

Update for referendum campaigners No.6 – 26 February 2016 (PDF)

This update has been amended to correct a pre-poll reporting date from 29 April to 28 April.

  • key dates for the referendum
  • advice service and guidance
  • the referendum period and the regulated period for the May 2016 elections
  • restrictions on public bodies at the referendum

Update for referendum campaigners No.5 – 26 January 2016 (PDF)

  • status of the Act and the campaigner rules
  • guidance for campaigners
  • registering as a campaigner
  • pre-poll reporting
  • donations and loans

Update for referendum campaigners No.4 – 21 December 2015 (PDF)

  • status of the Act
  • how we are publishing our guidance
  • May 2016 elections: Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly elections
  • counting of votes at the EU referendum

Update for referendum campaigners No.3 – 4 November 2015 (PDF)

  • designated lead campaign groups
  • the Commission's role in designation
  • the designation application period
  • how the designation decision is made

Update for referendum campaigners No.2 – 7 October 2015 (PDF)

  • the status of the Bill
  • referendum question
  • registration
  • referendum spending

Update for referendum campaigners No.1 – 16 July 2015 (PDF)

  • a summary of our role at the referendum
  • basic information about the referendum
  • where you can find more information

Contact us

If you have any queries about our guidance please contact us on 0333 103 1928 or by email on pef@electoralcommission.org.uk.

For press and media queries please contact our press office: 020 7271 0704 or by email on press@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Overview

Campaigning and registering for EU referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • Campaigners at a referendum
  • Registering as a campaigner
  • Lead campaigners
  • The referendum period
  • The referendum timetable

Overview: Campaigning and Registering for EU referendum campaigners (PDF)

Situations and procedures: Timetables and reporting deadlines at the EU Referendum (PDF)

Situations and procedures

Working together for EU referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • Working together with other campaigners
  • Spending rules when you are working together
  • Recording referendum spending
  • Reporting after the referendum

Working together for EU referendum campaigners (PDF)

Situations and procedures

Pre-poll reporting for referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • Pre-poll reporting timetable
  • What are donations and loans
  • What you need to report

Situations and Procedures: Pre-poll reporting for EU referendum campaigners (PDF)

Overview

Donations and loans for EU referendum campaigners

This part covers:

Situations and procedures

The designation process for the EU referendum

This part covers:

  • How lead campaigners are designated
  • The application period
  • The designation period and processes
  • Designated lead campaign group benefits

Situations and Procedures: The designation process for the EU referendum (PDF)

Party or campaigner