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Guidance on registering and maintaining a party

We regulate the finances of political parties and maintain the registers of political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This page contains all the guidance and forms you need to maintain a party.

What type of party do you want to register?

We register two types of party: a registered political party and a minor party.

Click here if you're not sure what kind of party you want to register

Registering a political party

A registered political party can apply to be registered on the Great Britain (GB) register, the Northern Ireland (NI) register, or both registers. Parties on the GB register also select which parts of GB they want to be registered in. Parties can choose a combination of England, Scotland and Wales.

Registering a minor party

A minor party is registered on the Great Britain register, but it can only contest parish council elections in England and community council elections in Wales. If you set up a minor party you will not have to submit as much information to us when applying to register, or be subject to the same degree of financial controls, compared to a registered political party.

Deadline for registration applications ahead of the May 2017 polls

Applications to register a new political party, amend a party name, amend or add an emblem, or to add a description

In order to receive a decision from the Commission no later than two days before close of nominations at an election in May 2017, you need to have submitted your application by Friday 10 February 2017.

If we receive a complete application by Friday 10 February 2017, either to register a new political party, amend a party name, amend or add an emblem, or to add a description, we guarantee to assess it and provide our decision by the relevant deadline, which is two days before the deadline for delivery of nomination papers.

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 the May 2017 polls.

Please note that different rules apply to applications to substitute or remove a description.

Applications to substitute or remove a description

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.

If you intend to submit an application of this type, please contact the Commission. You must ensure you deliver your application to the Commission well before the date of publication of the notice of election at which you intend to stand candidates to allow time for it to go through the application process.

We endeavour to process all applications received as soon as possible and we aim to let the applicant know the result of their application within 30 working days.  The Commission must carefully assess applications against the criteria set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Undertaking this process can take some time in order to ensure the Commission reaches a fair conclusion within the legislative requirements.

As the date of publication of the notice of election will vary, unfortunately we cannot provide a specific date for receipt of applications that will allow us to guarantee a decision in time for use on the ballot paper.

Please note that the notice of election for the local elections in England and Wales on 4 May 2017 must be published no later than 27 March 2017.  However, local authorities may individually choose to publish the notice sooner than that. In relation to the Scottish council elections on 4 May 2017, the Convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland has directed that the notice of election be published on 13 March 2017.

Applying to register online?

You can use our PEF Online services to do everything from registering your party, submitting your statutory returns to telling us you want to de-register your party. You will need to register as an online user and you can do this by emailing pef@electoralcommission.org.uk, calling our new number 0333 103 1928 or our old number 020 7271 0616 or by following this link:
PEF Online - Getting Started


Registering a political party

This part covers:

  • An introduction to your responsibilities
  • Maintaining your party's details
  • Donations and loans responsibilities
  • Annual accounting responsibilities
  • Campaign spending responsibilities

Introduction to registering a political party (PDF)


Maintaining party details

This part covers:


  • A summary of your responsibilities
  • Keeping clear and accurate records
  • Preparing your statement of accounts


Overview of maintaining party details (PDF)

Party or campaigner