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Guidance for campaigners in referendums

We regulate individuals and organisations that campaign at referendums and publish guidance that is specific to each referendum as the rules can be different for each one.

The referendum on independence for Scotland took place on 18 September 2014. Our guidance on the rules on donations, spending limits, and when the rules apply is available below.

You can also find a suite of our guidance for campaigners at the referendum in the zip file below:
Please note that we may update our guidance from time to time. We will indicate the date the ZIP file was updated and we recommend you check our website regularly for updates.

Latest updates

  • Amendment to explanatory notes for form RIS1


    We have made a minor amendment to the notes for form RIS1 - the application to register as a campaigner. The change sets out in more detail what address an organisation must supply on the form. 

  • Amendment to campaigner registration form


    We have made a minor amendment to section 5 of form RIS1 - the application to register as a campaigner. The change sets out in more detail who should sign the application form. 

  • Amendment to guidance for campaigners


    We have made a minor amendment to a date in our guidance for campaigners at the referendum on independence for Scotland in 2014. The date of Royal Assent of the legislation was 18 December 2013 and not 17 December 2013 as we previously stated.

    This means that campaigners who need to report and record certain donations and loans to us (such as accounting for pre-poll donations and loans) need to report from 18 December and not 17 December

    We have updated the following guidance to take account of the change of date:

    • Overview of donations for referendum campaigners
    • Overview of loans for referendum campaigners
    • Overview of referendum campaigning
    • Designation process
    • Pre-poll reporting for referendum campaigners
    • Referendum on independence for Scotland 2014
    • Forms RIS2, RIS3B and RIS-PPR. 

Regular updates for campaigners

On this page you will also find updates for campaigners that you can read alongside our guidance. You can also sign up to receive these updates by calling 0131 225 0202 or emailing scotreferendum@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Click here to view or hide the updates for campaigners

Read our 31 July campaigner update 

  • 'Leave to pay' guidance
  • pre-poll reporting
  • use of Scottish Parliament for referendum campaigning
  • appointing referendum agents

Read our 1 June campaigner update 

  • Information about referendum spending
  • The start of the referendum period
  • Campaign monitoring
  • Pre-poll reporting
  • New guidance on electronic imprints

Read our 7 May campaigner update 

  • Information about appointment of designated lead campaigners
  • Publication of Do’s and Don’ts guidance for campaigners
  • The register of permitted participants

Read our 24 January campaigner update 

  • Information about lead campaign groups
  • The designation process for prospective lead campaign groups

Read our 13 December campaigner update

  • Campaigning at the referendum
  • How to register as a campaigner

Read our 6 December campaigner update

  • Information on managing referendum spending
  • Information on reporting referendum spending

Read our 19 November campaigner update

  • Information about pre-poll reporting of donations and loans
  • How to report donations and loans

Read our 4 November 2013 campaigner update

  • Key points on campaign finance and spending
  • Information about handling donations and loans, permissible sources and checking permissibility

Read our October 2013 campaigner update

The maximum spending limits in our October update have changed following Royal Assent. Please refer to our guidance for the new maximum limits.

  • About referendum spending and limits
  • Being a registered campaigner

Read our September 2013 campaigner update

  • A summary of our role at the referendum
  • Basic information about the referendum



Overview of referendum spending

This part covers:

  • What referendum spending is
  • Managing referendum spending
  • Recording referendum spending
  • Reporting referendum spending

Overview of referendum spending (PDF)

Situations & procedures

Pre poll reporting for referendum campaigners

This part covers:

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

Pre-poll reporting for referendum campaigners (PDF)

Situations & procedures

The designation process

This part covers:

  • Introduction to lead campaigners
  • How lead campaigners are designated
  • The application period
  • The designation period
  • The final campaign period

Situations and procedures: The designation process (PDF)

Situations & procedures

The independence for Scotland Referendum 2014

This part covers:

  • An introduction to referendums
  • The referendum question
  • The referendum period
  • Spending limits
  • Referendum timetable

The referendum on independence for Scotland 2014 (PDF)

Party or campaigner