The Electoral Commission

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 applications ahead of the May 2019 polls in England and Northern Ireland

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

In order to be likely to receive a decision from us on applications for use on ballot papers at the May 2019 polls, you must submit your application to as soon as possible and no later than 12pm, Monday, 4 February 2019.

If we receive a complete application by 12pm on 4 February 2019, to do one of the following:

  • register a new political party
  • amend a party name
  • amend or add an emblem
  • add a description

We will aim to provide a decision by:

  • 1 April 2019 in England, two days before the deadline for delivery of nomination papers on 3 April 2019.
  • 6 April 2019 in Northern Ireland, two days before the deadline for delivery of nomination papers on 8 April 2019.

Please be aware that it usually takes about six weeks to process an application from the date that it is considered complete.

It is very important that you submit your application to us as soon as possible. You should not wait until 12pm on Monday, 4 February 2019 to submit it.

If your application is not complete on submission and requires further information to be provided, you may not have time to amend it and still receive a decision before the deadline.

Applications that are not submitted as soon as possible and no later than 12pm, on Monday, 4 February 2019, are unlikely to receive a decision in time for inclusion on a ballot paper for the May 2019 polls.

Applications to substitute or remove a description

If you intend to submit an application of this type, please contact us as the rules apply differently for applications to substitute or remove a description.

Where a decision is made to approve the substitution or removal of a description on the day of publication of the notice of election or after, it will not take effect until after the election.

You must ensure you deliver your application to us 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. Please note, the date of publication may vary for each local authority.

The notice of election for elections on 2 May 2019 must be published no later than 26 March 2019. However, local authorities may individually choose to publish the notice sooner than that.

We endeavour to process all complete applications as soon as possible and aim to let parties know the result of their application within about six weeks. We must carefully assess applications against the criteria set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. We undertake this process to ensure we reach a fair conclusion within the legal requirements.

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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