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This guidance has been produced to support Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) in planning for and delivering well-run electoral registration services. 

It has been developed in close consultation with colleagues across the electoral community including the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA), the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA), the UK Electoral Coordination and Advisory Board (ECAB), the Elections, Registration and Referendums Working Group (ERRWG) and the Welsh Electoral Practitioners Working Group (WEPWG).

It reflects the ERO’s legal obligations and what we, and colleagues across the electoral community, believe that EROs should expect of their staff in planning for and delivering well-run electoral registration services.

The guidance is directed towards the ERO and the duties they carry out. As these duties may, in practice, be carried out by deputies and/or appointed staff, we use the term ‘you’ throughout this guidance to mean the ERO and whoever is carrying out the ERO’s functions on their behalf. 

Throughout this guidance we use ‘must’ to refer to a specific legal requirement and ‘may / should’ for recommended practice.

To help you use this guidance we have produced a Q&A document that should answer any initial queries you may have. 

Updates to our guidance

Date of updateDescription of change
November 2022Voter Authority Certificates and Anonymous Elector's Documents guidance added.
February 2023

Updates to:

March 2023Update to guidance on the management of photos submitted for Voter Authority Certificate and Anonymous Elector Document applications.
April 2023

Updates to:

  • guidance on the use of information supplied as part of an application for a Voter Authority Certificate or Anonymous Elector's Document.
  • the processing of Crown Servant applications
September 2023Updated guidance on Absent Voting (Post commencement of Elections Act measures) added 
October 2023

Managing requests for postal vote applications guidance added to support decision making on the issue of a standalone or combined application form.

Updates to:

Confirming the outcome of a postal vote application where an elector may be eligible to vote by post in a different type of poll.

Requirement to provide a fresh signature following a rejection notice where you are managing multiple absent voting records for an individual. 

Changes have been made on what to consider where a deadline for determination of absent vote applications does not exist, in the following guidance:

Processing errors when inputting information for ID verification for postal vote applications (Post commencement)

Determining postal vote applications close to a poll (Post commencement)

Exceptions process for postal vote applications (Post commencement)

The attestation process for postal vote applications (Post commencement)

Determining applications for postal votes following the exceptions or attestation process (post commencement)

Processing errors when inputting information for ID verification for proxy vote applications (Post commencement)

Determining proxy vote applications close to a poll (Post commencement)

The exceptions process for proxy vote applications (Post commencement)

The attestation process for proxy vote applications (Post commencement)

Determining applications for proxy vote following the exceptions or attestation process (Post commencement)

December 2023Updated guidance on Overseas Electors (Post commencement of Elections Act measures) added
January 2024Updated guidance on The eligibility, confirmation and review process for European Union Citizens guidance added
May 2024

Changes have been made to reflect the change to the eligibility to register of EU to register to vote in the following guidance:

How should an elector with dual nationality be registered?

Can a Commonwealth citizen register to vote?

Which nationalities can vote at which elections?

Can a citizen from the European Union register to vote?

Requesting evidence of someone’s nationality or immigration status

Type B review 

Your role and responsibilities as Electoral Registration Officer

As Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) you are responsible for compiling and maintaining the register of electors.

This guidance covers the appointment of EROs, your duties to conduct an annual canvass and to maintain the register throughout the year, and the resources required to support you in your duties.  

How are Electoral Registration Officers appointed? 

In order to be able to vote in elections in Wales, a person’s name must be included in a register of electors. As ERO you are responsible for compiling the register of electors. 

The council of every county or county borough council must appoint an current officer of the council to be the ERO.

The ERO should be a senior officer, for example the Chief Executive/Head of Paid Service, and should undertake relevant training to ensure they have, and maintain, the skills required for the role.
 

Last updated: 12 July 2023

What are the duties of an Electoral Registration Officer?

What are the duties of an Electoral Registration Officer?

The statutory functions, including the duties of the ERO, are set out in legislation. Further duties can be imposed by a direction of the Secretary of State. 

The Secretary of State has a power to direct EROs in the discharge of their functions in relation to UK Parliamentary elections and combined elections but can only exercise this power of direction on, and in accordance with, a recommendation of the Electoral Commission. This power is held by Welsh Ministers in relation to Senedd and local government elections.1

The local authority that appointed you as ERO must provide the resources needed to discharge your statutory functions. Any expenses properly incurred by you in performance of your functions must be paid by the local authority that appointed you.2  
 

Last updated: 9 December 2022

Maintaining the register

Maintaining the register

The electoral register

As ERO you have a duty to maintain:

  • a register of parliamentary electors
  • a register of local government electors1  

These registers contain details of those who are registered to vote and must be combined as far as is practicable. Any reference to 'the register' in our guidance should be taken as a reference to the combined registers unless otherwise stated.

The franchise for the Senedd elections has been extended to include 16 and 17 year olds. They are eligible to vote in Senedd elections held on or after 5 April 2021.2 This means that the local government register will include 16 and 17 year olds as full electors. Additionally 15 year olds and some 14 year olds are entitled to be included on the local government register as 'attainers'. An attainer is someone who turns 16 by the end of the twelve months following the 1 December after the 'relevant date'.

The combined register will need to make clear the date on which those who are under 18 years of age will become 18 years old in order to clearly show their eligibility to vote in different elections.

No information on those aged under 16 must be included on any version of the register published or otherwise made available, except in very limited circumstances. For other information, see our guidance on access and supply of the register.

The franchise for Senedd elections has also been extended to include qualifying foreign nationals. They are eligible to vote in Senedd elections held on or after 5 April 2021.3

The entry in the combined registers of any person who is registered only as a local government elector by virtue of being a qualifying foreign citizen must give an indication of that fact.

The edited register

You must also produce an edited (or open) version of the register.4 We use the term edited register, as this is the technical term used in the legislation. Open register is used to describe the edited register to members of the public to make it easier to understand the purpose of this register and how it is used. Where we mention the edited register in this context, we will refer to the edited register as the open register.

The edited register contains only the names and addresses of those on the full register who have not opted out of their details appearing on the edited register.

A person under 16 years old is automatically opted out of the edited register.

Absent voting records

In addition to maintaining the register, you have a duty to process absent vote applications, maintain the absent voting record and produce the lists of absent voters for an election.5 More information can be found in our guidance on absent voting.
 

Last updated: 26 May 2021

Ensuring registers are accurate and complete

Ensuring registers are accurate and complete

You need to publish registers that are as accurate and complete as possible.

By accurate we mean that there are no false entries and by complete we mean that every person who is entitled to have an entry in an electoral register is registered.

You have a duty under Section 9A of the Representation People Act 1983 (as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013) to take all necessary steps to comply with your duty to maintain the electoral register, and to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that all those eligible (and no others) are registered in it.1  

The steps required under Section 9A include:

  • sending at least one canvass communication to any address
  • sending a canvass form more than once
  • making on one or more occasions house to house inquiries
  • making on one or more occasions contact by telephone
  • making contact by such other means as the registration officer thinks appropriate with persons who do not have an entry in a register
  • inspecting any records held by any person which he is permitted to inspect under or by virtue of any enactment or rule of law
  • providing training to persons under his direction or control in connection with the carrying out of the duty

You must actively consider each of the steps listed and take all such action that you consider necessary in order to fulfil your duty to maintain the register of electors. The steps do not need to be taken in any particular order.

If you fail to take these steps, you may be in breach of official duty, which on summary conviction can result in a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.2

While the Section 9A duty to take all necessary steps to ensure your registers are accurate and complete still applies, the requirements to carry out house-to-house enquiries as part of the annual canvass has not been extended to 14 and 15 year olds.
 
You are also required by law to take specified steps to follow up on particular canvass non-responses, including making contact with the property or an individual. 

Any potential new electors identified will also need to be sent an Invitation to register (ITR) and a registration application form, and you will need to take the specified steps – issuing two reminders and a personal visit - to follow up with any ITR non-responders.3  These processes will not all be linear and will need to be carried out concurrently.

These duties apply throughout the year and not just during the canvass period.

We provide more guidance to help you with production of the ITR and registration form in our forms and letters guidance.

A personal visit 14 or 15 year olds who have not responded to an ITR is not required at any time during the year.4

If you do not make a visit to the household, you should consider what other mechanisms you can use to encourage a response from those in this age group. For example, you could contact under 16's by email if you hold their email address. Also, as part of any canvass follow-up activity, there may be an opportunity to remind any adults living at an address that 15 year olds and some14 year olds are now entitled to register and to ask them to encourage any 14/15 year olds at the address to apply to register online.

You should also consider working with partners that specifically work with or have influence with young people and reflect this in your plans. For further information, see Planning for registration and public engagement throughout the year.

We have provided a resource about engaging with young people and attainers.

 

 

Last updated: 26 May 2021

Carrying out house to house enquiries throughout the year

You are required to carry out house-to-house enquiries throughout the year1 you should have the necessary staff in place to carry out these visits.2   

The visits can be used for: 

  • making enquiries with individuals who have not responded to an ITR
  • identifying any changes to properties, such as new buildings or alterations to existing properties to help you to update your property database
  • providing help to electors who need additional support or assistance to make an application to register or to respond to your enquiries

Data protection training should be included in training for all staff and canvassers who are carrying out house to house enquiries. This will help you to embed the data protection principles in your work and demonstrate compliance with data protection legislation.

More information on planning, training and the recruitment of staff, including canvassers can be found in planning for staffing to deliver the annual canvass. 
 

Last updated: 27 October 2023

Encouraging participation

Encouraging participation

You have a duty to take such steps as you think appropriate to encourage the participation of electors in your area in the electoral process. In doing this, you must have regard to any guidance issued by the Electoral Commission.1  

Throughout the year you should work to identify people who are not registered and encourage them to register. You should also have specific plans to carry out registration activity in advance of scheduled elections or referendums.

You should have a public engagement strategy and registration plan which sets out your approach to identifying and targeting potential new electors.
 
Further information about encouraging participation is contained in our guidance on planning for registration and public engagement throughout the year
 

Last updated: 25 May 2021

Role as a data controller

Role as a data controller

As ERO, you are a data controller with a statutory duty to process certain personal data to maintain the electoral register. Under data protection legislation you will need to be able to demonstrate that you comply with the principles of processing personal data, ensuring that it is processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. 

Advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is that all data controllers will need to ensure that they are registered with the ICO. This means that EROs must be registered separately to their council. Under data protection legislation, a public authority must appoint a data protection officer (DPO) to advise on data protection issues. 

As ERO, you are not included in the definition of a public authority contained in Schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and you are therefore not required to appoint a DPO for the conduct of your duties; however, your appointing council must have a DPO in place and you should liaise with them over good practice in relation to data protection. A key element of data protection legislation is the increased focus on accountability and transparency when processing personal data. 

You must be able to demonstrate that you comply with your obligations under data protection legislation, ensuring that you process personal data lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. The key to achieving this is to have and maintain written plans and records to provide an audit trail. You can find more information in our guidance What are the data protection considerations for an Electoral Registration Officer?

Last updated: 25 May 2021

What resources do Electoral Registration Officers need to carry out their role?

What resources do Electoral Registration Officers need to carry out their role?

It is important that you are supported to fulfil your role, given the range of statutory duties, and the seriousness of any breaches.1

The local authority that appointed you must provide the resources needed to discharge your statutory functions. Any expenses properly incurred by you in performance of your functions must be paid by the local authority that appointed you.2

Appointing a Deputy

You should ensure that your council approves the appointment of one or more Deputy EROs who can carry out the duties and powers of the ERO if you are unable to act personally.

Any deputies appointed should have the skills and knowledge required to carry out the functions that they have been assigned. Appointments should be made in writing and include clear details of the full or particular powers that the deputy is authorised to exercise on your behalf. In particular, it may be useful to appoint deputies to undertake quasi-judicial procedures, such as hearings of registration applications, objections and reviews. The acceptance of any such appointment should also be made in writing.

Unlike Returning Officers, the ERO cannot appoint a deputy themselves, unless the power to do so has been delegated to them by the council.3

If the position of ERO is vacant or the ERO is incapable of acting, any of the duties and powers of the ERO may be carried out by the proper officer of the council.4

The electoral registration team

The council that appointed you must provide officers to assist you in your statutory functions.5 You should consider how the council can provide the support required for your registration plans to be delivered. In particular, you should ensure that you have enough staff with the right skills in your team. For guidance on planning, training and recruitment of staff, see planning for registration throughout the year.

Last updated: 11 August 2021

Budgeting for registration activity

Budgeting for registration activity

As part of your annual planning process, you will need to consider what budget you require in order to carry out your statutory functions. The budget for registration should be settled between you and the council which appointed you, and that should be sufficient to allow you to fulfil your duty to maintain the register. 

This should include all activity involved in conducting the annual canvass. For further details on the necessary activities see our guidance on delivering the annual canvass.

You also need sufficient resources to maintain the register throughout the year to ensure that it remains complete and accurate. For further details see our guidance on planning for registration throughout the year.

You should properly account for the expenses of registration you incur and liaise with the council to agree a suitable accounting process and budget.

While we recognise the increasing budget pressures facing local authorities which force difficult choices between competing statutory services, a lack of resources does not exempt you from complying with the law. 

Last updated: 30 October 2023

Your public engagement strategy and registration plan

Your public engagement strategy and registration plan

This section of the guidance covers the need to put together a public engagement strategy, what your public engagement strategy should include and how you should go about implementing it. It also covers considerations for putting together a registration plan.

Why having a public engagement strategy and registration plan is important

You have a duty under Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to take all necessary steps to comply with the duty to maintain the electoral register and to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that all those eligible – and no others – are registered in it. To ensure that the quality of the register is maintained throughout the year it is important that you:

  • identify and target any unregistered residents
  • process any amendments to an elector’s current registration details 
  • take steps to remove electors who are no longer eligible

Maximising the number of voters registered relies on an effective local public engagement strategy with robust processes behind it. A proactive approach is required throughout the year to identify people who are not registered and encourage them to register.

By encourage, we mean doing everything you can to encourage an application to be made before or after formally inviting someone to register.

In particular, you should have plans in place to carry out registration activity in advance of scheduled elections or referendums to reach electors and encourage them to register to vote.

Your public engagement strategy and registration plan should set out your approach to identifying and targeting potential new electors.

It is important that they remain living documents and you use all available data to keep them under review. 

The challenge of maximising registration takes place in the context of wider challenges for electoral registration, including voter disengagement, transient populations and the other registration challenges that exist in your area. The lessons you have learnt in addressing these challenges to date should be reflected in your updated public engagement strategy.

Public engagement includes:

  • any forms, letters or emails you send directly to individuals or households
  • phone calls, e-mails and direct face-to-face conversations with individuals
  • local activity with partner organisations 
  • contact with organisations such as schools, universities, landlords, housing associations and hostels
  • press releases, media work and use of social media
  • public awareness activity, including local advertising and publicity directly aimed at residents 

An effective local public engagement strategy should reduce the need for follow-up activity, free up resources and help to maximise the number of voters registered. You will need to build and maintain relationships with other teams from across the local authority for your public engagement work to be as effective as possible. These include: 

  • IT
  • communications and engagement professionals 
  • other teams in the local authority who have contact with those residents less likely to be registered

You will also need to work with external partners. You should consider who these partners can help you to reach and how. You will need to ensure that they are engaged, have all the information they need, and understand the timings for any planned engagement work.  

Last updated: 27 October 2023

What should my public engagement strategy include?

What should my public engagement strategy include?

Your strategy should include:

  • how you will identify and engage with potential target audiences (including hard to reach groups)
  • details of the communication channels you will use to engage residents
  • how you are going to work with internal and external partners to reach target audiences
  • how you will raise awareness through advertising and the media
  • how you will measure the success of your strategy
Last updated: 6 October 2020

Identifying potential target audiences for public engagement

Identifying potential target audiences for public engagement

You should use data sources, such as data from your local authority and the census, to build a detailed profile of the make-up of your registration area. You should review this regularly and consider any additional data.

Your local authority may hold and regularly update demographic information about residents including:

  • the sorts of activities they take part in
  • the services they use
  • their attitudes
  • their communication preferences
  • where different groups are clustered geographically

Some authorities also use consumer classification systems to identify the types of people in their area so that they can use their resources effectively to target groups with relevant information. 

Target groups may be distributed evenly across the authority, for example attainers, while others, such as students or private renters, may be concentrated in particular wards or neighbourhoods. 

This information may also be useful in your planning for the canvass

Research carried out by the Commission indicates that people from the following groups are less likely to be registered:

  • younger people (under 35) 
  • private renters
  • people of Black, mixed or other ethnicity groups
  • citizens of the European Union and Commonwealth
  • those considered to be at the lower end of the social economic scale grades

Our research also shows that the registration of young people and, in particular, attainers, remains a challenge. The inspection of local authority education services data may provide you with information which could assist with the identification of potential electors who may be eligible to be registered as attainers.

Your engagement strategy should include how you will engage with attainers in your area. Working with schools and colleges in your area to target these potential electors should be a key area of your public engagement activity. You may also be able to draw on your own or others experiences of engaging with young people to date and use any lessons learnt to inform your future plans.

It might be helpful to contact other authorities with similar target groups in order to share experiences and understand what has worked for them in practice. You should continually review the demographics of your registration area to identify further groups that are under-registered.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Checking the audience for public engagement

Checking the audience for public engagement

Eligible electors in your area will fall into distinct groups in relation to registration. 

Unregistered / new electors

Any new electors will need to make a registration application and provide their personal identifiers in order to register to vote.

Those who are not on the register, including typically unregistered groups, remain a target for registration activity. The groups that are less likely to join the register and the barriers that stop them doing so will vary by area, creating unique local challenges. There is an ongoing challenge in identifying local issues and taking action in response to these to ensure that as many people are registered as possible.

Social groups needing additional engagement activity 

Research has shown that certain groups are more likely to be absent from the register or not registered at their current address. 

The reasons for particular groups being absent from the register are diverse – for example, they may be transient in where they live, they may be disengaged with politics, or they may be unaware of their rights. This means that these groups need to be reached in different ways, using different channels, and that they will be motivated by different messages. 

From the profile data you have gathered, you will have identified the specific social groups in your area that are less likely to join or be on the register, either because they are typically under-registered, or because they do not typically respond to communications from the ERO. These groups will need additional targeted engagement activity to increase the likelihood that they will join the register. 

These groups may include: 

  • Private renters 
  • Home-movers and mobile population 
  • Young people (under 35s) 
  • Attainers 
  • EU and Commonwealth citizens
  • Qualifying foreign citizens 
  • Some black and minority ethnic groups (African, Mixed, Bangladeshi) 
  • People resident at their property for less than 2 years 
  • People who have lived in the UK for less than 5 years 
  • Low level of English fluency 
  • Unemployed 
  • Young people with no qualifications
  • Students at term-time address

Some challenges may not be audience-specific but may be particular to your area. For example you may have geographical barriers, or you may have low levels of broadband connection that mean people will find it harder to access online registration. Your strategy should also consider how to address these considerations.

You will have identified the groups that need particular engagement activity in your public engagement strategy. After reviewing the profile of your registration area, you should review the particular groups identified to ensure that they remain relevant. Your resources might need to be re-directed, you might need to continue your work but refine your approach, or another group might have emerged requiring particular engagement, such as attainers. 

Electors who are already registered

These electors will have their names included on communications sent out as part of the canvass. They will need to know what to do if any changes are required to their registration information.

Example target audiences and opportunities for reaching them are set out below:

Audience Challenges Opportunities to reach
Registered electors Need to know how to update their details if they change 
  • Canvass communications
  • Household notification letters
  • Public information through broader audience channels such as local authority website, magazine and other communications 
  • Local awareness-raising advertisements
  • Local media work
Not registered (including typically under-registered and harder-to-reach groups) Barriers such as transient residency, unawareness of rights, disengagement, or difficulty with registering
  • Canvass communications
  • ITRs
  • Follow up with direct contact (e.g. letters, phone calls, and house-to-house canvassing/personal visits)
  • Household notification letters
  • Targeted engagement activity including public information provision, advertising, and working with partner organisations
  • Use of local education data

Hard to reach groups

Research has shown that certain groups are more likely to be absent from the register or not registered at their current address. 

You will have identified the specific social groups in your area that are less likely to join or be on the register, either because they are typically under-registered, or because they do not typically respond to communications from the ERO. These groups will need additional targeted engagement activity to increase the likelihood that they will join the register.

The table below sets out some of the challenges and opportunities for reaching these hard to reach groups.

Demographic Challenges Opportunities to reach
Young people and attainers (including 14/15 year olds)
  • Not reached by traditional media
  • Unaware of need to register
  • Reliant on family influences
  • Disengagement with politics
  • Distrust of authority
  • Other priorities
  • Peer influenced
  • High social media users
  • High smart phone and text message use
  • Online registration and information
  • May be in school, college or training, providing potential communication channels
Students
  • Highly transient
  • Disengagement with paperwork and post
  • Other priorities and distractions
  • Not used to registering themselves
  • Institution asks them to complete paperwork- Grouped in halls of residence or student areas of town
  • Potential to be incentivised
  • High social media users
Home movers
  • Unaware of need to re-register
  • Not a priority
  • Partners helping to spread messages
Mobile population, private renters and communal residency
  • Unaware of need to register/change details
  • Disengagement with politics
  • Other priorities
  • Partners helping to spread messages
Under-registered black and minority ethnic communities
  • Disengagement with politics
  • New residents may be unaware of rights
  • Partners helping to spread messages
  • Local advertising in locations with higher density of target population
People with disabilities and particular communication requirements
  • Unable to access mainstream communications
  • Some may rely on carers to receive and return post
  • May need help with completing forms
  • Need to produce accessible communications
  • High users of service providers, providing potential communication channels
  • Potential to reach carers and those who have influence with them
Over 80s
  • Low internet use
  • Difficulty getting to post box
  • May rely on carers to receive and return post
  • May need help with completing forms
  • Less exposed to outdoor advertising
  • High users of service providers, providing potential communication channels
  • Potential to reach carers and those who have influence with them
Disengaged households; young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs)
  • Disengagement with politics
  • Distrust of authority
  • Difficulty with completing forms
  • Not involved with institutions
  • High users of certain services providing potential communication channels
  • Peer influenced
  • Potential to be incentivised
Low level of literacy or understanding of English
  • Unaware of rights
  • Difficulty completing forms
  • Provision of information in other languages
  • Partners helping to spread messages and providing help with form completion
  • Information in world language media
Homeless and travellers
  • Difficulty accessing and completing forms
  • Partners helping to spread messages and providing help with form completion
Residents in very rural areas
  • Less exposure to central services
  • Less exposure to outdoor advertisements
  • Partnering with community groups
  • Rural communications
  • Reliant on concentrated range of services
Foreign Nationals
  • Unaware of rights
  • Unaware of need to register
  • Difficulty completing forms
  • Provision of information in other languages
  • Partners helping to spread messages
  • Local advertising in locations with higher density of target population

Our example tactics sheets for reaching target audiences contain ideas for targeting and communicating with typically under-registered groups, such as young people including 14-17 year olds, BME groups and private renters.  

Further information and practice examples of how some EROs are working with care homes and students to encourage registration is also available.

 

Last updated: 9 August 2023

Communication channels for engaging residents

Communication channels for engaging residents

You should consider whether the communication channels you use during the canvass, at scheduled polls and in your wider registration work, enable you to reach your target audience(s) effectively. 

You should regularly evaluate these channels to determine what worked well and what was less successful.

For information and practice examples of how some EROs are targeting and communicating with potential electors, see our sharing good practice resource Communications.

 

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Direct contact with residents

Direct contact with residents

Direct contact is an important element of your public engagement strategy and you should promote the channels residents can use to contact you including:

  • letters
  • telephone conversations
  • text messages
  • emails
  • door-to-door visits
  • social media channels

Your experiences during the last canvass and your ongoing wider registration work will have given you a good indication of which areas respond quickly to written communications and which are more likely to require personal visits. You can use this information to inform your plans for the canvass. For example, in areas that do not respond well to written communications it might be a better use of resources to undertake personal visits earlier in the process compared to other areas.

Any letters and emails you send must be easy to understand and carry clear messages about what the recipient needs to do and how they can do it. 

You should use the template wording that the Commission provides in its forms and letters guidance which reflects results of user testing.

You can give an invitation to register by electronic means, including by email. This means that rather than sending potential electors an invitation to register with a voter registration form and a return envelope. You can (where you have an elector’s email address) encourage them to register online by emailing them an ITR with a link to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

This option should be reflected in your strategy and wider registration plans.

For your public engagement strategy and registration plan, you will need to have established the practical process for writing out to residents for the canvass, including timings. You will also need to consider timings for your public engagement activity that supports the canvass, which should include any potential opportunities to link to any wider national or local voter registration activity

For example, National Democracy Week, which aims to increase the number of people who understand and take part in the democratic process, is one such opportunity. Depending on when you issue your canvass communications, you may be able to capitalise on this and the accompanying national publicity, to drive canvass responses and raise awareness among under-registered groups. 

We will keep you updated with our plans for National Democracy Week via our EA Bulletin. You should also ensure that you are subscribed to our Roll Call newsletter which contains the latest information about promoting voter registration and our partnership work. 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has made available resources that you can use to promote registration activities you have planned during this year. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Education make secondary schools resource available and has a Youth Engagement Toolkit for parliamentarians to use with young people in their areas.

 

Last updated: 9 March 2022

Managing responses and enquiries from individuals

Managing responses and enquiries from individuals

Your public engagement strategy and registration plan need to address how you will sufficiently resource all the methods that the public can use to contact the local authority.

You should review the effectiveness of your resourcing throughout the year to inform future planning. 

The canvass and other public engagement activity that residents come into contact with will prompt higher levels of queries and questions, so it’s important that you provide sufficient support for residents who make contact by telephone, by email or in writing.

Providing telephone support is important because many residents will have difficulties accessing the internet or understanding written material. Residents will also expect to be able to e-mail queries, talk to someone face-to-face or write letters to the ERO. Face-to-face contact may include speaking to local authority frontline such as in libraries or leisure centres or the corporate contact centre. 

If you provide other methods for residents to contact you, such as Facebook, Twitter, web-forms, and text messages, you should review how effective these channels have been in responding to queries, and also the volume of queries you have received through these channels. A high volume of queries received through one channel could require additional resources in the future or if, for example, you received a significant number of queries through certain channels such as web forms, this could indicate high usage of your local authority website but may also suggest that the information provided there could be clearer in order to mitigate queries.

How to plan resources needed to respond to enquiries

To plan levels of resourcing you should consider:

  • the peaks for demand for public information which are likely to occur following public engagement activity, for instance following the issue of canvass communications and in the run-up to registration deadlines
  • what level of enquiries you received during peaks in registration activity
  • increasing resources at your existing call centre or outsourcing responses, for example, using a specialist call centre
  • the effectiveness of your approach during the last canvass and scheduled polls, and whether you need to do anything differently
  • what contingencies you can put in place if enquiries are much higher than expected (you should test your contingency arrangements to ensure that they are robust)

Directing residents to online registration (www.gov.uk/register-to-vote) and providing clear and easy to navigate information about registration on your website will help to reduce the burden on your public information response lines. 

The better the information available and the easier it is to access, the less people should reach for the telephone. 

You should regularly review the volume of queries you receive through each channel.

Establishing an agreed response time for enquiries

You should establish a fixed timeframe in which responses will be made where queries cannot be dealt with immediately, so you can let the enquirer know when they may expect to receive an answer. 

For example, you could set up an automatic response to e-mails letting the enquirer know you will get back to them within 48 hours. You could also include answers to frequently asked questions with this automated response, together with links to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and to the absent voting forms on your website. 
 

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Training public facing staff to deal with enquiries

Training public-facing staff to deal with enquiries

You should provide updated face-to-face briefings or written information to local authority staff who deal with the public to ensure they have the information they need to be able to respond to any queries they may receive.

This means thinking about likely queries and developing scripts and lines to help employees responding to enquiries to answer questions or refer callers to the right place. 

We have provided an FAQ resource to support you. 

Staff will also need to be prepared to deal with queries from, and relating to the registration of 14-17 year olds and qualifying foreign citizens, who may have no experience of the registration system.

To inform your planning, you should consider the level and type of enquiries you received during the last canvass and at Senedd and local council elections, and the channels through which these were received.

Last updated: 5 July 2022

Working with partners to reach target audiences

Working with partners to reach target audiences

Working with partners, inside and outside the local authority, is key to delivering your registration plan and promoting public awareness. Internal and external partners may be able to identify residents who are entitled to be registered, but do not have an entry in the register. 

External partnerships can be established at every level, from individual community leaders to national businesses. 

Partnerships also need to be built internally within the local authority and with organisations that provide services for the local authority. Council departments or organisations that are in regular contact with residents, for example those delivering meals on wheels or providing domestic care, could be approached to promote the completion of applications. It is important to identify and build relationships with the correct point of contact in each case.

Partnerships should be free, with each side getting a mutual benefit for entering the partnership. However, some costs may be incurred for example, for the production of materials for partners to use with residents.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

How can partnerships help to raise public awareness?

How can partnerships help to raise public awareness?

Partnerships can help you to raise public awareness by:

  • sharing messages - for some social groups, messages are more likely to be acted upon if they come from someone they trust and know – for example, a respected community leader or organisation
  • extending the reach of your advertising – for example, a dentist may put posters in their waiting room, you could also place them in community buildings or on public notice boards 
  • including information in the communications they already send out
  • increasing your capacity by answering people’s questions and supporting them to fill in forms - for example charitable organisations

Other partnership activities could include:

  • providing registration forms for estate agents to attach to rental contracts
  • identifying a charity whose volunteers are willing to help people fill in forms
  • working with a large local employer who is keen on supporting community causes
  • providing materials for or working together to deliver a workshop on democracy and registration

Partners may also be able to identify other opportunities that you have not yet considered.

When selecting appropriate partners to engage with those who are under 16 you should consider obtaining advice from your local education services and child protection departments.

Last updated: 26 May 2021

Approaching partners about supporting registration

Approaching partners about supporting registration

You will need to approach potential or existing partners about the possibility of them supporting your registration work. To an extent, you will need to ‘pitch’ your request to them to ensure that it has the highest chance of getting them on board, particularly as they may have requests from other organisations. 

First, research the best time for your approach – will they, for example, be busy at a particular time with another priority?  

You will also need to ensure your proposal contains ideas of how they could help, and how helping would be beneficial to them and to the people they work with. This will have a higher chance of getting them on board, particularly as they may have requests from other organisations. 

Not all organisations and individuals will be in a position to get involved; it’s important to accept this and where possible consider alternatives.

You will also need to support partners throughout any activities to increase the likelihood of them remaining engaged.

Last updated: 10 August 2021

How to set up a new partnership?

How to set up a new partnership

When setting up a partnership you may want to have a telephone conversation or face to face meeting particularly for larger partnerships, where the following points should be addressed:

  • explain why the partnership is beneficial to both parties 
  • agree the level of support the partner will offer
  • understand the mechanisms they will use for reaching their audience
  • agree whether any materials will be needed and, if so, who will be producing them
  • agree what messages they will use in communicating with their audience
  • agree what information they will provide on how the audience can respond or where they can get more help
  • agree who at the local authority will be available to answer the partner’s questions
  • be clear about timings and when messages need to change
  • establish regular communications 
  • ensure that if things are not going as planned they are open to stopping the activity and, where relevant, returning materials
  • agree an approach to evaluation of the activity
Last updated: 6 October 2020

Working with existing partners

Working with existing partners

As well as identifying potential new partners, it is important to build on any existing partnership arrangements you have established. This could include those who:

  • have previously supported registration work
  • are in regular or significant communication with your target audiences
  • have good relationships with target audiences and have previously worked with the local authority, but not on registration
  • have good relationships with target audiences and have never worked with the local authority
  • have a high profile in the local area among broad audiences

Where you identify that you wish to continue working with an existing partner, you should review the partnership and identify whether there is anything you could do differently with them to achieve better results. If this partnership activity has resulted in an increase in the registration levels of your target group, you should feedback success to your partners, which may encourage them to undertake further work with you.

Some examples of partners you may want to consider include:

  • Service providers - for example, housing associations, home care services, schools, further education colleges.
  • Other governmental organisations and local authority teams – for example, parish councils, housing services, social services.
  • Influential individuals – for example a prominent student landlord, local celebrities, politicians, political parties and candidates.
  • Community groups and charities – for example, a boxing club, Neighbourhood Watch, over-60s social groups
  • Private companies and organisations – for example, a large local employer, gym, dentist, estate agent.

You won’t be able to work with everyone, so as well as evaluating the value added by existing partners during the last canvass and at scheduled polls, you should consider:

  • who will best reach your target groups
  • the practicalities of working together
  • any other local factors

It may be beneficial to categorise your list of partners, identifying which partners will require help to deliver detailed activity, and those who have agreed to simply relay or promote registration messages.

Partnerships that may take a large amount of time to set up and reach a small number of people may still be worthwhile if the people they reach are high on your target list and are unlikely to be engaged in other ways. 

Similarly, an organisation that works with residents who are not on your target list, but reaches a huge of residents and is committed to taking time to spread your messages could at least be considered.

It is also important to plan for working with politicians and political parties throughout the year so that they understand how the registration process works. Candidates and their supporters can extend your registration reach by promoting registration during their electoral campaigning. If candidates, parties and politicians are not engaged, there is a risk that the messages and information they provide could be wrong or incomplete.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

The risks of working with partners

Partnership risks

Risks should not stop you working with partners, but they should be captured in your risk and issues register and you need to identify mitigations against these risks. 

Some potential risks include:

  • The partnership results in wide-scale complaints – for example, if a partner engages in political campaigning there may be a perception that the ERO is not politically neutral
  • The partner misrepresents your message - do they understand the relationship and their responsibilities? Do they understand and keep to the message you want to get across to residents and to what extent does it matter if they don’t? Are they clear when the work ends, or when the message changes?
  • The partner does not carry out the work they agreed - is this risk more significant because you have put time and money into the relationship? Perhaps they misunderstood the workload, or find themselves with an unexpected priority, or perhaps they start to incur additional costs and expect re-imbursement
  • Registration fatigue – initial enthusiasm might fade so it will be important to try to maintain momentum in any partnership work, including by keeping up communication and providing feedback
  • The cost outweighs the benefits - you may produce comprehensive materials and the organisation does little to help support your registration work

You should consider developing lines to take in the event a partnership organisation attracts negative press which might implicate your local authority.

You should evaluate how effective you were at mitigating any risks when working with partners. These learning points should be reflected when updating your engagement strategy to help inform your approach to future partnership working.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Data protection considerations when working with partners

Data protection considerations when working with partners

You need to be able to demonstrate that all information obtained, whether from internal or external partners, complies with the principles of processing personal data, ensuring that it is processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.

You should ensure that any partners assisting electors to complete applications are aware of data protection principles before handling any personal data. 

External organisations from whom you are obtaining personal data, for example, universities and care homes, will hold personal data on their students and residents respectively and are likely to be data controllers in their own right. 

Although data protection legislation does not require a written agreement when sharing data between data controllers, it is strongly recommended that you agree with your partner a data sharing agreement to help you both demonstrate that you are acting in accordance with data protection legislation

Our guidance on data protection for EROs and ROs contains further information on data protection considerations and a checklist to support you in developing a data sharing agreement.

Last updated: 5 June 2023

Raising awareness using advertising and media

Raising awareness using advertising and media

Public awareness activity, such as advertising and working with the media, is an important part of public engagement. As ERO, you have a general duty to promote participation and you will need to undertake advertising of your own as far as is possible. 

Your public engagement strategy should ensure that your public awareness raising activity is co-ordinated to take place at key points during the canvass and in the period leading up to scheduled polls and should document any planned use of:

  • local authority newsletters
  • website
  • bus shelters
  • poster sites or notice boards
  • social media
  • media relations tools
Last updated: 6 October 2020

Getting the public to take action

Getting the public to take action

If the communications you produce are aimed at getting people to do something, a call to action is fundamental to success. A call to action is a statement that lays out what you want the audience to do next – for example, register online. Without it, people won’t understand what they should do, or if it is unclear or buried in other information it may well be ignored. 

Calls to action should:

  • be written succinctly, clearly telling people what to do
  • use active instructive language (‘Visit www.bigtown.org.uk for more information' is better than 'interested parties can find further relevant details at the Council’s website')
  • be visually prominent in the document - for example, in larger text, a different colour and with space around it to draw people’s attention to it

The Commission previously undertook research with the public, led by Ipsos Mori, to establish which communication messages best motivated and engaged people to take action. 

The research findings showed that the following key elements were motivating:

  • 'Voting matters' (many people do not distinguish voting from registering)
  • loss aversion (the implication that you stand to lose something if you don’t register)

Timing is crucial to ensuring that people don’t get so accustomed to messages that they switch off, so you may want to consider limiting the use of some channels to the periods where they will have most impact.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Using local authority owned media channels

Using local authority owned media channels

You should continue to consider the best places to display your advertising. Buying media (advertising space) such as outdoor poster sites and press advertisements can be prohibitively expensive. More inexpensive options such as community newsletters or local listings magazines may also be out of reach.

You may, however, have a range of local-authority-owned channels available to you, for example:

  • local authority residents’ magazine
  • internal staff newsletters
  • local authority-owned vehicles
  • local authority-owned poster sites
  • local authority buildings
  • bus shelters and billboards
  • notice boards
  • social media channels

You should undertake an audit of potential owned media and consider the reach and frequency for each option. This will help you to establish how much of your target audience would be exposed to the activity and the number of times they would be exposed to the activity.

You should keep any information up to date and relevant and check for any changes since activities were last undertaken.

Your local authority website can also be used as an additional low-cost media channel. You should ensure that your web content is up-to-date and includes links on key pages to external websites, such as www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter.

How could I make use of social media channels?

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and others provide an inexpensive opportunity to raise awareness and can be used for responding to public queries.

Ongoing promotional work is required to build the numbers using your social media channels.

Interesting, amusing, urgent or engaging messages are more likely to be shared by users and reach a wider audience. Posts should be made at key times, for example, at the start of the canvass, to ensure maximum impact.

Think about how external events could provide a hook for social media activity. For example, we have previously made a series of electoral registration Valentine’s Day-themed tweets on 14 February.

Social media also offers opportunities to immediately see the impact of your work. For example, how many times a Facebook post is liked or shared, or how often a tweet is retweeted.

However, social media has limitations – for example, social media channels may in many cases be limited to those who are already engaged with the local authority.

Last updated: 10 August 2021

Events and street marketing opportunities

Events and street marketing opportunities

You should consider holding events that involve face-to-face contact with people, for example at an event such as a road show or at a stall in a shopping centre, to boost awareness. Novel activities at existing community events can draw attention and you can promote them in advance. Notify the press ahead of events to attract their attendance and achieve further media coverage.

Events and street marketing can be useful for targeting under-registered groups by bringing information to them. 

You could supply posters and leaflets to draw attention to your stand. Then forms can be collected on the spot or facilities provided to make online applications. This also gives the public opportunity to ask about anything they do not understand. 

It has been shown that an individual is more likely to take action if they can do so straight away. 

Think about the locations that provide an opportunity for people to register then provide information at those points to influence people into taking action to register. 

For example, you may want to display reminders on library computers, at job clubs where computers for CV writing are provided, or in free computing skills classes.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Using paid for advertising

Using paid for advertising

Media is typically bought in the weeks and months before a campaign is due to go live. 

You will need to hold conversations early on to establish the deadlines for buying advertising media, and for supplying artwork. There are also likely to be technical requirements for the supply of artwork.

You may buy individual sites from media owners, or work with a media buying agency to select the best media to meet your objectives and target audiences. 

What are the channels and who could they reach?

  • Radio – reaches lower income residents and young adults, as well as those in more rural areas; segmented audience can be reached by appropriate stations
  • Online – less useful for lower income households; reaches under-24s and students particularly through social media. Most capable of targeting specific groups
  • Newspaper – potential to reach lower incomes, particularly in certain titles
  • Magazines / newsletters – target specific local areas or community groups
  • Advertorials (promotional articles) for local press and websites – could be used to carry more detailed information
  • Outdoor – useful to reach target audiences by locating in areas with high density and passing footfall; potential to reach students; billboards and buses can provide high frequency of views
  • Mobile advertising vans – can deliver messages to geographic areas with high densities of your target audience
  • Event sponsorship – potential to reach young people and BMEs

What are the other considerations when using paid for advertising?

Buying advertising space is expensive so you should consider the following factors:

  • Total reach – the number of relevant people expected to be exposed to an advertiser’s message at least once in a specified time
  • Frequency – the number of times a member of the audience is exposed to a message in the specified time
  • Cost – The cost of reaching one thousand people or of reaching your target market

When establishing the reach and frequency you may, for example, want to consider if it’s better to have fewer adverts on a larger radio station than lots of adverts on a small radio station and whether a high reach campaign in a local newspaper running for one day is better than a low reach campaign in a community magazine that lasts a month.

Think carefully about your target audiences before accepting any special offers from media owners. Ask why the price is reduced – it may be that the space does not have a proven ability to reach your audience.

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Getting others to spread the message (earned media)

Getting others to spread the message (earned media)

By actively working with the media, you have greater influence on the types of messages they carry. 

People’s likelihood to register will be affected by the messages they hear in the press and news. Media relations activity provides an opportunity to get your message on the news agenda and raise the profile of your work. 

You may not be able to control public opinion, but you can supply messages that are more likely to reassure people and reduce negative coverage that could deter people from registering. 

Suggested activity may include:

  • issuing press releases ahead of key events, such as at the start of the annual canvass 
  • giving interviews for radio and television
  • holding publicity-generating events
Last updated: 6 October 2020

Ensuring communication materials are accessible and impactful

Ensuring communication materials are accessible and impactful

When producing communication materials you should ensure that they emphasise key messages and have a layout that supports clarity and impact. Clear and concise writing has a much higher chance of reaching as many people as possible and ensures the recipient will understand what they need to do.

Communications that provide information in the way the reader wants to receive it are more likely to have greater impact.

You should identify whether there is someone in your local authority who has expertise in writing for the public, plain English or website accessibility, or if possible staff could undertake relevant training.

Not everyone will understand the communications and may need further help or reassurance, so contact details of where the reader can get help should be included.

For further information, see our factsheet on producing accessible communications.

Last updated: 10 August 2021

Monitoring and evaluating the success of your public engagement strategy

Monitoring and evaluating the success of your public engagement strategy

Evaluations are essential for measuring the effectiveness of a project and demonstrating achievements

Your engagement strategy and registration plan needs to be updated to reflect findings of your monitoring and evaluation. You should update it to reflect lessons learnt from work you have already undertaken and to include any new information about your registration area.

This information will help to continue to refine the picture you have of the demographics of your area, confirm what the key challenges for engaging with your residents are and measure which activities are most effective in engaging with different target audiences

You should outline how you will monitor and evaluate how effective your public engagement activity and tactics to engage your target groups were during the last canvass, at scheduled polls, and in your ongoing activity to maximise registration. Did you reach your target audience?

Measuring the success of your engagement activities

In order to evaluate the success of an activity, it is important to have clear, measurable objectives and any evaluation measures should relate back clearly to the initial objectives.

It is likely that a variety of methods will be needed to evaluate a project. To identify the most appropriate methods to use for evaluation you should define the questions to be asked to form the evaluation and consider how these questions might be answered. 

There are a variety of methods that can be used to assess the effectiveness of your activity, some of which might be behaviour-based (what people have done, what has actually happened) and some of which might be perception-based (what people believe to have happened). 

The following are some mechanisms for collecting evidence to support your evaluation:

  • recording feedback from the public at events or via your website
  • recording the level of responses as a result of the activity
  • recording the number of enquiries on the subject
  • recording the number of hits to the website requesting information 
  • recording any feedback provided on social media
  • distributing evaluation questionnaires or feedback forms at the end of an event
  • conducting a public opinion survey to determine whether the public were aware of your activity, their thoughts about it and whether they took action as a result
  • conducting pre-activity and post-activity surveys to determine whether people’s knowledge and awareness of registration and the process has increased as a result of the activity
  • interviews with stakeholders to determine what they thought of the activity
  • focus groups held with residents to gather feedback – potentially as part of other events 

It is also important to attempt to measure:

  • environmental factors or background noise: to what extent is increased participation the result of your activity or of some other factors?
  • the base case: i.e. what would have happened in the absence of the activity?
  • the number of relevant people who were exposed to the activity
  • the number of times people were exposed to the activity
  • any increases in the number of people taking action, such as registering to vote
  • any positive feedback from participants in a scheme
  • whether people’s understanding of the process has increased
  • any increase in requests for information

The evaluation plan needs to set out who will participate in the evaluation and who is responsible for the various parts of the evaluation.

Monitoring of progress and evaluation should be carried out at the end of each key stage of registration activity to ensure activities are effective and remain appropriate. 

While it is important to undertake evaluation as extensively as possible, consideration should be given to the resources allocated and the cost of evaluation should be proportionate to the cost of the project. 

You may not be able to evaluate everything in the detail you would like and you should set out any limitations to the evaluation in your plans, including any potential risks to the reliability and validity of the evaluation and findings.

Your evaluation plans should identify relevant stakeholders, such as other local authorities, who may be interested in the evaluation and with whom the findings should be shared. 
 

Last updated: 6 October 2020

How the Commission can support you with public engagement

How the Commission can support you with public engagement

There are a range of resources available on the Commission’s website which could be used or developed for future campaigns. You can also subscribe to our voter registration newsletter - Roll Call, which contains the latest information about promoting voter registration and our partnership work.

Our resources will be updated ahead of scheduled polls as appropriate, but the general guidance and suggestions continue to be relevant and may be helpful throughout the year.

Direct one-to-one support also continues to be available through our Wales office.

You can contact them by:

Last updated: 26 May 2021

Your registration plan

Your registration plan

While your public engagement strategy will help you identify the registration challenges in your area and a general approach for tackling them, your registration plan should be informed by it and capture the detailed actions of everything that needs to be done to maintain electoral registers that are as accurate and complete as possible – not just throughout the canvass period, but throughout the year.

What should a registration plan include?

Your registration plan should capture all registration activity throughout the year, including in the lead up to scheduled polls and during the canvass. 

We have produced a template registration plan you can use to support your planning for the delivery of electoral registration services. You do not have to use the template provided.

It is important that you treat your registration plan as a living document and keep it under regular review using available data to monitor progress and to identify where any amendments need to be made.

At a minimum, your registration plan should cover: 

  • a timetable of deliverables and tasks which should demonstrate how you intend to carry out the necessary steps under Section 9A, both during the canvass and throughout the year
  • details of planned partnership activity
  • details on how you will implement your strategy for engaging with 14-17 year olds in your area
  • details on how you will manage the processes you are required to follow to verify the identity of 14 and 15 year olds, including how you will access and use educational records and any other records for these purposes
  • objectives and success measures
  • resource requirements
  • review of internal processes to ensure they remain relevant, including what measures you have put in place to ensure data protection requirements are met
  • identification of training needs, both for external and internal sources of training
  • mechanisms for tracking and evaluating progress and for recording amendments
  • processes to identify any patterns of activity that might indicate potential integrity problems, including what steps are to be taken to deal with any such problems

You will need systems in place that enable you to track your progress towards ensuring that as many eligible residents as possible are included on the register. This should include processes to track responses from individuals and households to monitor, evaluate and target resources to identify where amendments to your plans are required.

You also need to maintain a risk and issues register, identifying any risks to the effective delivery of your registration plan and corresponding mitigating actions.

We have developed a template risk and issues register that you can use to record any risks you identify. It contains examples that you will need to consider and, if necessary, mitigate, as well as a log to record any issues that emerge and that you will need to address. Alternatively, you may wish to include risks including our examples in any risk management documentation you have already developed.

Last updated: 26 May 2021

What resources are needed to deliver your registration plan

What resources are needed to deliver your registration plan?

You will need to identify what work you need to do to engage with residents, and consequently, what resources you will need to do this. Keeping your plan and activity under review will enable you to understand whether your local challenges are being met and enable you to target your resources where they are most needed.

You will need to consider what resources, including staffing resources, are needed to process applications for 14-16 year olds. Staff will need to be given appropriate training and guidance relating to handling and storing the personal data pf 14 and 15 year olds.

You should also liaise with your local education services department to obtain data that will help to refine your assumptions further. If you have not already done so, you should consider developing a data sharing agreement to facilitate the secure and timely sharing of data.

Key departments and individuals you will need to involve, may include:

  • the local authority’s IT department 
  • the local authority’s finance team
  • data holders
  • the data protection officer at the local authority
  • the local authority’s call centre / reception manager
  • the communications / media manager at the local authority (if there is one)
  • the local authority’s HR manager
  • representatives of local authority teams/individuals and local organisations who work with under-registered groups in your area, such as local education departments

When working with key departments you should remember that subject to limited exceptions, only EROs and their staff will be able to use the data relating to these individuals. Returning officers at Senedd elections will have access to the data relating to those 15 year olds who will attain voting age on or before polling day. A young person's data may also to the young person themselves, and in certain other prescribed circumstances. For further guidance on access to the information included in the electoral register, see Who can be supplied with the register?

Your plan should cover how you will be engage these departments/individuals and how often you will meet with them. Consider:

  • whether you should personally chair the group
  • who should be involved
  • what the terms of reference will be
  • how actions will be recorded and taken forward
     
Last updated: 26 May 2021

What records can you inspect to assist you with identifying potential new electors throughout the year?

What records can you inspect to assist you with identifying potential new electors throughout the year?

Your registration plan should include detail of data sources available to you and a schedule of when checks of those records are to be carried out. 

As ERO you can by law, for the purpose of meeting your registration duties, inspect and make copies of records kept in whatever form by:1  

  • the council which appointed you
  • any registrar of births, deaths and marriages including any superintendent 
  • any person, including a company or organisation, providing services to, or authorised to exercise any function of, the council including any providing outsourced services under any finance agreement 

Where the ERO requests to inspect and/or take copies of the records listed above, a statutory or other restriction, including the GDPR, cannot be used to refuse disclosure of those records.2  For example, if a private contractor has been appointed to collect council tax on behalf of your local authority, as ERO for that authority, you are entitled to access the data held by that contractor.

In addition to this, the council which appointed the ERO is permitted to disclose to the ERO, for certain registration purposes, information contained in records held by the council.  

There are three purposes:

  • to verify information relating to a person who is registered in a register maintained by the officer, or who is named in an application for registration
  • to ascertain the names and addresses of people who are not registered but who are entitled to be registered
  • to identify those people who are registered but who are not entitled to be registered

Disclosure can only be made in accordance with a written agreement between the council and the ERO processing of the information, including its transfer, storage, destruction and security.

You should also ensure that you are making full use of all the records available to you to check entries on the register, taking steps to remove those electors who are no longer entitled to remain registered.

You should record the number of electors removed from the register and the reason for the removal.

For more information on what types of other records can also be used to identify changes and those who may no longer be entitled to be registered at a particular address see our guidance on managing amendments, reviews, objections and deletions throughout the year.

You will need to use information sources available to identify and target new electors, and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to add them to register.  

While records may assist you in identifying who does not have an entry in the register, any potential new elector who is identified must always make a successful application before they can be added to the register. You should record the number of electors added to the register and how these applications originated. For example, whether the application was unsolicited or was it following information included in a canvass communication.

The following records may help you maintain your register throughout the year: 

  • Council tax: These records may indicate new residents have moved into a property. However, the person named on council tax records is not always eligible to register to vote, for example owners of properties that do not reside there. Also, council tax records will not necessarily tell you all of the people resident at the address who you may need to invite to register. Council tax records can be used as evidence that a property is empty or that it is not someone’s main residence, which may affect their entitlement to register. Access to these records should include any supplementary notes, which may assist with clarifying who is resident.
  • Council tax reduction (formerly council tax benefit): These records may alert you to others living at a property. 
  • Housing: The records of arms-length management organisations and housing records where the council maintains the housing stock can be inspected for tenants details.
  • Housing benefit: Housing benefits are paid directly to an individual and as such can be helpful in identifying new electors.
  • Register of households in multiple occupation (HMOs): You should consider using these records to make contact with landlords or managing agents who are likely to be able to provide names of new residents. 
  • Records held by registrars of deaths and marriages: Information received about marriages and civil partnerships could indicate an additional resident at a property. It may also alert you to a change of name of an existing elector. Or in the case of deaths indicate where an existing elector may need to be removed.
  • Lists of residential and care homes / shelters / hostels: Social services (or equivalent department) will be able to provide lists of residential and care homes, as well as shelters and hostels. Wardens of these accommodations may be able to provide information on changes of residents. We have produced a factsheet for care homes in that you can adapt to reflect your particular circumstances.

The factsheet is based on our assisted applications guidance which details what one person can do to support another to register.

  • Lists of disabled people receiving council assistance: Social services (or equivalent department) may be able to provide details of certain disabled people living at home, such as those who are blind, deaf, etc., which should also enable you to tailor the service you provide to such individuals.
  • Land Registry: Can be used to find information on sales of property, which can provide information on changes, particularly as the name of the buyer is given.
  • Planning and building control: Inspection of building control records and liaising with house builders can give an indication of the progress of new developments and whether they are ready for residential occupation. Instead of liaising with planning and building control directly, you may be able to gain the necessary information from the Valuation Office.
  • List of new British citizens held by the registrar: The registrar will have information on who has become a British citizen. You are entitled to inspect and make copies of these records, and could use them to identify potential new electors. Information on applying to register to vote could be given to the registrar to include packs they make available to those receiving British citizenship. Depending on their previous/other nationality, someone who has become a British citizen may already be on the electoral register, but information should be provided in any case to ensure that they have the correct franchise.
  • Local authority education data: This data may provide information to assist with the identification of potential electors aged 16 to 18 years who may be eligible to be registered as attainers or electors.

You separately have the power to require information from a person who is not the elector. You can use this power where it is required for the purposes of maintaining the register.3   For example, you can use it to require those in charge of multiple occupation establishments or care homes to provide you with information on residents.

To comply with data protection legislation, you need to demonstrate that all information obtained complies with the principles of processing personal data, ensuring that it is processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. Therefore, you should maintain details of:

  • the records to be checked
  • a schedule of when those checks are carried out
  • the lawful basis on which you are processing that information. For example, Section 9A places an obligation on you, the ERO, to inspect these records as part of your duty to maintain the electoral register, therefore providing the statutory basis by which you are processing that personal data the security in place to protect the data. For example, encrypting/password protecting data whenever it is transmitted, and using secure storage
  • action taken on the basis of the information you have obtained
  • retention and secure disposal of data (in accordance with your document retention plan)

A number of EROs have identified tools to assist in managing registration processes. For information on and examples of utilising management tools, see our resource Effective management of registration processes:

Information and examples of how some EROs are utilising existing data sources to help ensure that registers are as accurate and complete as possible, see our resource Effective use of available data:

Last updated: 14 February 2024
Last updated: 27 October 2023

Eligibility to register to vote

Eligibility to register to vote

In order for a person to be eligible to register to vote in Wales they must meet the eligibility criteria on the relevant date. There are three aspects to the entitlement to be registered:1  

  • the application is made by someone who appears to be the person named on the application
  • any statutory requirements in relation to the application, including how it may be made and the information it must contain, are met
  • the person named on the application appears to the ERO to meet the eligibility criteria for registration and is not disqualified from registering
     
Last updated: 26 May 2021

What is the relevant date?

What is the relevant date?

You must determine applications for registration based on whether an applicant meets the requirements for registration and whether or not they are disqualified from registration on the relevant date.1 The relevant date varies depending on the way the application is made:

  • for an application on a paper form it is the day the application is made,2 i.e. when the form including all the required information is completed by the applicant 
  • for online applications it is the date the IER Digital Service records the application as being made, the electronic date stamp will be included on the information sent to you
  • for telephone and in-person applications (which are allowed at your discretion) it is the time that all the information required for the application has been recorded and the applicant has declared the truth of the information

Regardless of the relevant date on a paper application, you must have received the application to register form by the appropriate deadline for it to be determined and included in the next update to the register. 
 

Last updated: 16 September 2020

At what age can someone register to vote?

At what age can someone register to vote?

A person aged 16 or over on the relevant date who meets the residency qualification and is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote is entitled to be included on the local government register, however an elector must be 18 to be included on the UK Parliamentary register.

This means that the local government register will include 16 and 17 year olds as full electors, 16 and 17 year olds are entitled to vote in Senedd elections1  and also in local government elections held on or after the 5th May 2022.2

Additionally, 15 Year olds and some 14 year olds are entitled to be included on the register as attainers.

For the purpose of the local government register in Wales, an attainer is someone who turns 16 by the end of the twelve months following the 1 December after the relevant date. 

The register must include the date on which any attainers will be 16 years old, i.e. the date from which they will be entitled to vote. 

However an elector must be 18 to vote in UK parliamentary elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

The entry in the combined registers of any person aged 16 or 17 who is registered only as a local government elector must give the date on which the person will attain the age of 18.3

Information on those aged under 16 must not be included on any version of the register published or otherwise made available, except in very limited circumstances.4

Last updated: 16 December 2022

What are the residency requirements for registration purposes?

What are the residency requirements for registration purposes?

A person must be resident, on the relevant date, at the address at which they want to be registered.1 Residence has a particular meaning in electoral law and is not equivalent to residence for other purposes such as income tax or council tax.

Normally a person is resident at an address for electoral purposes if it is their permanent home address.

When making a determination on someone’s residence, you need to consider the circumstances of the applicant, including the purpose they are present at a particular address for and/or the reasons they are absent.

What is a qualifying address for electoral registration purposes?

The qualifying address is the address a person is entitled to be registered at. The applicant or elector must be deemed resident at this address in accordance with electoral legislation.

The register must include the qualifying addresses of those persons registered in it,2 subject to certain exceptions, including overseas and anonymous electors. More detailed information on these exceptions is available in our guidance on special category electors.

Which electors are exempt from the residency requirement?

Certain categories of electors have special provisions entitling them to register despite not meeting the residence requirement. These electors include:

  • service voters 
  • anonymous electors
  • overseas electors

On submission of the relevant declaration together with their application to register to vote, such electors will be deemed to meet the residence requirement. Our guidance on special category electors provides further information on these types of electors and the process by which they can register.

Does unlawful occupation of grounds or a property prevent registration?

Unlawful occupation of grounds or a dwelling does not disqualify a person from registering there if it is determined that this is their permanent residence. As a result any issue regarding tenancy, ownership or legal occupation of the property by the applicant must be disregarded in determining whether or not the residence requirement has been met.

Last updated: 10 August 2021

Does temporary absence or presence affect residency?

Does temporary absence or presence affect residency?

Being resident for registration purposes does not require actual occupation of the qualifying address on the relevant date.1

Being away on holiday    

Going away on holiday does not affect a person’s residence qualification for electoral registration purposes as long as the qualifying address remains their permanent place of residence and they intend to return to that address after their time away. 

Working away from home

Someone being away due to any office, service or employment, will not affect their residence qualification, as long as either:2  

  • they intend to resume actual residence within a period of six months from when they gave up residence, and the reason for their absence will not prevent them from doing so, or
  • the property is a permanent place of residence for the applicant alone or with others and the only reason the applicant is not currently at the property is because of the duty they are undertaking

Residents in temporary accommodation

A person in temporary accommodation with no other home elsewhere may, depending on the circumstances, be considered to be resident at that address. If, however, the person does have a permanent home elsewhere, they may not be deemed to be resident at the temporary address.3  

Guests

A guest staying at a property does not become resident if they have a permanent home elsewhere. The guest will be deemed to be resident at their permanent home. However, a guest who does not have a permanent home elsewhere may, depending on the circumstances, be regarded as being resident for electoral purposes at that address. 
 

Last updated: 1 June 2020

Can electors register to vote at more than one address?

Can electors register to vote at more than one address?

Some electors may be entitled to register at more than one address. When considering an application to register a person at a secondary address you should take into account the purpose for which the elector is present at that address, to establish if they may be deemed resident there. You should consider each case on its own merits.

When coming to a determination you need to consider that:

  • a person may have more than one home, but property ownership is not sufficient to establish that someone is resident at an address - it is unlikely that owning a second property which is visited only for recreational purposes would meet the residency qualification
  • owning and paying council tax on a property alone is not sufficient to satisfy the residence qualification, this may give an indication of connection to an address but is not evidence of residence 
  • how the second home is used will affect whether or not someone may be considered to be resident at an address, i.e. is this where the ‘main business of life’ is being conducted? 
  • temporary presence at an address does not make a person resident there
  • temporary absence does not deprive a person of their residence


In each case, a person would need to be able to demonstrate their degree of permanency at both addresses. Each decision must be made on a case-by-case basis. 

Students

Students often live at two different addresses, one during term time and one during the holidays. Students are entitled to register in respect of both addresses if you consider that they have their permanent home at both places.1
 
We have produced a resource with examples of how some EROs are engaging with students and encouraging student registration.



  

Last updated: 1 June 2020

Can someone register to vote without a fixed address?

Can someone register to vote without a fixed address? 

A person who does not have a fixed or permanent address may register at the place where they spend most of their time, or to which they have a local connection. In some cases they will need to register by making a declaration of local connection.

More information on making and processing declarations of local connection can be found in our guidance on special category electors.

How can merchant seamen register?

Merchant seamen who are not resident in the UK but would be if not for their employment are entitled to be treated as resident at either an address at which they would normally be resident, or at a hostel or club which provides accommodation for merchant seamen and at which they would commonly stay in during the course of their occupation.1  

How can gypsy and traveller communities register?

Some members of gypsy or travelling communities may not have a permanent address, although they may settle for a period of time at sites designated by the local authority. When present at those sites for a substantive time, they may be considered to be resident there and may register as ordinary electors.

The local authority, who are responsible for maintaining any sites and ensuring appropriate education is provided for the children, may be able to assist you in assessing the situation in the local area and helping facilitate the registration of any gypsies or travellers who meet the entitlement.

Where there is no address where a particular gypsy and traveller community can be considered resident, they cannot register as ordinary electors. They may instead register by making a declaration of local connection at the place where they spend most of their time, or to where they have a local connection.2  

You should consider the presence of any gypsy or travelling communities in your area and decide on the best approach to take locally.

How can people living on narrow boats and other movable residences register? 

Any person living permanently on a boat, houseboat or similar residence which has a permanent mooring in Great Britain can be treated as being resident at that address and should be registered as an ordinary elector. 

When a person lives on a boat or other similar residence without a permanent mooring, they cannot be treated as being resident at any particular address. They will be entitled to make a registration by declaration of local connection at a place where they spend the most of their time (whether during the day or night).3 This may, for example, be a boatyard used for maintenance.

How can homeless people register?

A homeless person will not have a permanent home address and therefore will not be able to register as an ordinary elector. They may make an application to register by local connection at an address where they spend a substantial part of their time, whether during the day or night.4 It may, for example, be a bus shelter, a park bench or the doorway to a high street store.

How do looked after children and children in secure accommodation register?

Those under 18 years old who are, or have been looked after children, or are currently being kept in secure accommodation, are entitled to register by making a declaration of local connection.5

Looked after children are children (who can be up to the age of 18) that:

  • are, or have been, looked after by a local authority, or
  • are being kept in any secure accommodation specified in regulations made by the Welsh Minister in circumstances specified in the regulations
Last updated: 26 May 2021

Can a patient in a mental health hospital register to vote?

Can a patient in a mental health hospital register to vote?

A person admitted as an in-patient in a mental health hospital or other establishment maintained mainly for the reception and treatment of persons with a mental health problem may be registered at the hospital/establishment, if the period they are likely to spend there is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there.1
 
Patients in mental health hospitals are also entitled to be registered by making a declaration of local connection at:2  

  • the address at which they would be living if they were not a patient 
  • an address where they used to live before they became a patient

A person in a mental health hospital may still be considered resident at their permanent home if their stay in hospital is not long enough for them to be able to be regarded as resident there or for them to be able to register through a declaration of local connection.3  

More information on making and processing declarations of local connection can be found in our guidance on special category electors

Patients in mental health hospitals who are convicted offenders and are legally incapable of voting are not entitled to be registered.4  
 

Last updated: 14 October 2020

Can prisoners register to vote?

Can prisoners register to vote?

Convicted persons detained in penal institutions are not entitled to be registered because they are legally incapable of voting. However, it is possible that in some limited circumstances, a prisoner may meet the criteria to register to vote.

Can a prisoner on remand register?

A person who has been remanded in custody (but is not a convicted prisoner) who is detained in a penal institution or some other place for custodial purposes, may be deemed to be resident there for registration purposes, if the period of detention is sufficient to enable them to be regarded as being resident there.1
 
A remand prisoner may also choose to register by making a declaration of local connection at:2

  • the address at which they would be living if they were not a prisoner on remand
  • an address where they used to live before they became a prisoner on remand

A remand prisoner may still be considered resident at their permanent home if their stay at their place of custody is not long enough for them to be able to be regarded as resident there or for them to be able to register through a declaration of local connection.3

Can a convicted prisoner released on temporary licence register?

Convicted persons detained in penal institutions are not entitled to be registered because they are legally incapable of voting. However, it is possible that in some limited circumstances, convicted prisoners who have been released on temporary licence may meet the criteria to register to vote. In these cases, the person’s place of residence should be determined in the ordinary way. 

Our guidance provides further information on the registration options available for prisoners on remand and patients in mental hospitals.
 

Last updated: 14 October 2020

What are the nationality requirements to register to vote?

What are the nationality requirements to register to vote?

General provisions

An individual’s citizenship is one of the factors that determines which, if any, elections in the UK a person is entitled to be registered to vote at.

If an applicant is unsure regarding any aspect of their nationality, they should be advised to contact the Home Office. You should point out to them that they need to be sure of their nationality before applying – knowingly providing false information on an application is an offence, punishable on summary conviction by up to six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.1

Last updated: 10 August 2021

Registration of British citizens

Registration of British citizens

British citizens fulfil the nationality qualification for registration in respect of all elections in the UK.1
 
Marriage to a British citizen does not automatically mean someone becomes a British citizen. Being born in the UK does not automatically confer British citizenship either. If an applicant is unsure whether they are a British citizen, they should contact the Home Office to make sure that they meet the nationality qualification before applying.

Citizenship ceremonies

Citizenship ceremonies are the final stage of attaining British citizenship. However, an invitation to a citizenship ceremony is not in itself proof of citizenship.
 

Last updated: 1 June 2020

How should an elector with dual nationality be registered?

How should an elector with dual nationality be registered?

Some applicants may have more than one nationality. You should always process an application in accordance with the nationality that provides the higher level of franchise.

For example, an application stating that the applicant is a dual German and British citizen should be registered as a British citizen, as this gives them the wider franchise.

From the 7 May 2024 The Representation of the People (Franchise Amendment and Eligibility Review) Regulations 2023 update the franchise for Police and Crime Commissioner elections.  

In all circumstances the answer given can be disregarded and the PCC franchise determined by the applicant's non EU19 qualifying nationality.

Applicants who state in their application that they have dual nationality as an EU19 citizen and another citizenship which is not:

  • British
  • Irish
  • Commonwealth
  • EU5 

must answer a historical citizenship question. Applicants with dual nationality where both their nationalities are EU19, (e.g. French/German) must confirm whether they have held their EU19 citizenship since on or before 31 December 2020 which is the Implementation Period Commencement Date (IPCD). This is to establish their eligibility to vote in Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. 

Where the applicant applies using a paper form the ERO will need to write out and ask the elector the question. Applications made online will automatically be asked the question as part of the online journey.

If the applicant answers that they held their EU19 citizenship on or before 31 December 2020 they meet the retained rights eligibility criteria and they are eligible to register and vote in PCC elections and the elector must be added to the register with a B marker.1

If the applicant answers that they obtained their EU19 citizenship after the 31 December 2020 they are not eligible to register and vote in PCC elections the elector must be added to the register with a G marker.2    

When writing to the elector to request an answer to the historical citizenship question you should wait for a reasonable period of time after contacting an applicant for them to supply the answer. After that period of time has elapsed, you should write to the applicant to let them know that as they have not responded you have determined them as ineligible to vote in Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the elector must be added to the register with a G marker.

While a reasonable period of time is not defined in legislation, in our view this should be no longer than 28 days. Where there is an election or petition due to take place you should ensure you notify the applicant of the deadline to supply the information to enable the application to be processed for that relevant election or petition. 

 

Last updated: 4 June 2024

Can a Commonwealth citizen register to vote?

Can a Commonwealth citizen register to vote? 

Qualifying Commonwealth citizens are entitled to register as Parliamentary and as local government electors provided that on the relevant date they also fulfil the age and residence requirements for registration and are not subject to any other legal incapacity.1  

Citizens of Commonwealth countries other than the United Kingdom are not eligible to register as overseas electors.2  

Meaning of qualifying Commonwealth citizen3  

A person is a qualifying Commonwealth citizen if they do not require permission  to enter or remain in the UK, or they do require permission to enter or remain in the UK but have been granted such permission , or are treated as having been granted such permission.

Any type of leave to enter or remain is acceptable, whether indefinite, time limited or conditional.

Commonwealth citizens temporarily in the UK and pending removal

The Home Office have advised that Commonwealth citizens who are temporarily in the UK pending removal, are not in the UK legally whilst arrangements for their removal are being made. As these citizens do not have permission to enter or remain they are not eligible to register to vote.

 

List of Commonwealth countries
Antigua and BarbudaJamaicaSaint Lucia
AustraliaKenyaSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
The BahamasKingdom of EswatiniSamoa
BangladeshKiribatiSeychelles
BarbadosLesothoSierra Leone
BelizeMalawiSingapore
BotswanaMalaysiaSolomon Islands
Brunei DarussalamMaldivesSouth Africa
CameroonMalta*Sri Lanka
CanadaMauritiusTogo
Cyprus*MozambiqueTonga
DominicaNamibiaTrinidad and Tobago
FijiNauruTuvalu
GabonNew ZealandUganda
The GambiaNigeriaUnited Kingdom
GhanaPakistanUnited Republic of Tanzania
GrenadaPapua New GuineaVanuatu
GuyanaRwandaZambia
IndiaSaint Kitts and NevisZimbabwe

*Although also EU member states, citizens of Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections held in the UK.

Citizens of Commonwealth countries that have been suspended from the Commonwealth retain their voting rights. Their voting rights would only be affected if their country was also deleted from the list of Commonwealth countries in the British Nationality Act 1981 through an Act of the UK Parliament.
 

How do you process an application from a citizen of Cyprus?

For registration purposes, the whole of Cyprus is considered to be a Commonwealth country and you should not be concerned with the political situation of the island. If there is any doubt as to whether a person from Cyprus should be registered, they should be asked to provide confirmation that they are Cypriot, such as a Uniform Format Form (Opens in new window) with a UK visa, UK residence permit showing Cypriot nationality, or other appropriate evidence. Registration as a Cypriot national cannot be based solely on a Turkish passport.

Last updated: 3 May 2024

Can a citizen from the British Overseas Territories register to vote?

Can a citizen from the British Overseas Territories register to vote?

British Overseas Territories citizens have the same status as Commonwealth citizens and are entitled to register as electors in respect of all elections, provided that they also fulfil the age and residence requirements for such registration and are not subject to any other legal incapacity.

 
British Overseas Territories
AnguillaMontserrat
BermudaPitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
British Antarctic TerritorySt Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
British Indian Ocean TerritorySouth Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Cayman IslandsSovereign Base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus
Falkland IslandsTurks and Caicos Islands
GibraltarVirgin Islands

British Overseas Territories citizens are not eligible to register as overseas electors, unless they also hold British citizenship, in which case they would be eligible providing they also meet the relevant eligibility conditions

How do you process an application from a citizen from Hong Kong?

Following its transfer to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997, Hong Kong was deleted from the list of British Overseas Territories. As a result, former residents of Hong Kong are not automatically qualifying Commonwealth citizens.

Only those previous residents of Hong Kong who hold a British Overseas Territories, British Nationals (Overseas) or British Overseas passport meet the nationality criterion for all elections in the UK. Any previous resident of Hong Kong who only has a Chinese Special Administrative Region passport is Chinese and may not register as a qualifying Commonwealth citizen. They may, however, be eligible to register as a qualifying foreign citizen.

If an elector declares their nationality to be Hong Kong Chinese then you should exercise your powers to require evidence of the elector’s actual nationality and confirm the type of passport that they hold.
 

Last updated: 11 June 2024

Can a citizen from the British Crown Dependencies register to vote?

Can a citizen from the British Crown Dependencies register to vote?

The British Crown Dependencies consist of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands including Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, Herm and the other inhabited Channel Islands.

Citizens of the British Crown Dependencies who are resident in the UK are considered to be Commonwealth citizens for the purposes of electoral registration. However, unlike Commonwealth citizens, they may register as overseas electors. 

Last updated: 1 June 2020

Can a foreign national register to vote?

Can a foreign national register to vote?

The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 extends the franchise to include qualifying foreign citizens for Senedd elections1  and the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 extends the franchise to qualifying foreign citizens for local government elections.2

The entry in the combined registers of a qualifying foreign citizen must give an indication of that fact.3

Electors of any nationality are eligible to register to vote in Senedd elections and local government elections, providing they meet the age and residency requirements and that they are not legally incapable of voting.

A qualifying foreign citizen is a person who is not;

  • a Commonwealth citizen, or
  • a citizen of the Republic of Ireland

and who has or does not require leave to remain or is treated as having leave to enter or remain in the UK.4  

Subject to meeting the age, residency and legal capacity requirements, citizens from the Republic of Ireland and the Commonwealth are eligible to register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections.

Franchise for Police and Crime Commissioner elections

The Representation of the People (Franchise Amendment and Eligibility Review) Regulations 2023 update the franchise for Police and Crime Commissioner elections and will come into effect from 7 May 2024. 
This will mean that to be eligible to register to vote in Police and Crime Commissioner elections, an EU citizen will be required to be:

  • a qualifying EU citizen
  • an EU citizen with retained rights

Our guidance Can a citizen from the European Union register to vote? contains more information about the eligibility of EU citizens to register to vote at Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales.
 

Last updated: 7 May 2024

Can a citizen from the European Union register to vote?

Can a citizen from the European Union register to vote?

Citizens from member countries of the European Union are eligible to register to vote in local government  and Senedd elections , providing they meet with the age and residency requirements and  are not legally incapable of voting.

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK.

 
Member states of the European Union
AustriaFranceThe Netherlands
BelgiumGermanyPoland
BulgariaGreecePortugal
CroatiaHungaryRepublic of Ireland*
Cyprus*ItalyRomania
Czech RepublicLatviaSlovakia
DenmarkLithuaniaSlovenia
EstoniaLuxembourgSpain
FinlandMalta*Sweden

*Citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK.


 

Franchise for Police and Crime Commissioner elections

The Representation of the People (Franchise Amendment and Eligibility Review) Regulations 2023 update the franchise for Police and Crime Commissioner elections and will come into effect from 7 May 2024. 

This will mean that to be eligible to vote in Police and Crime Commissioner elections, an EU citizen will be required to be:

  • a qualifying EU citizen 
  • an EU citizen with retained rights

Qualifying EU citizens 

A person is a qualifying EU citizen if they:   

  • are a citizen of a country with which the UK has bilateral Voting and Candidacy Rights (VCR) treaty 
  • are resident in the UK with any form of leave to remain, or do not require such leave.

Currently the UK holds bilateral treaties with the following countries:

  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain

In this guidance we refer to these countries as the EU5. 
 

Citizens of EU countries with reciprocal voting treaties that cease to apply retain their voting rights for PCC elections. Their voting rights in PCC elections would only be affected if their country was also deleted from the list of countries in Schedule 6A of the Representation of the People Act 1983, through legislation in the UK Parliament.

EU citizens with retained rights 

A person is an EU citizen with retained rights if they:  

  • are a citizen of a country with which the UK does not have bilateral Voting and Candidacy Rights (VCR) treaty 
  • have been legally resident in the UK since before the UK left the EU on 31/12/2020 (the Implementation Period Completion Date – IPCD)

The member states of the European Union which do not currently have a bilateral VCR treaty with the UK and are not also Commonwealth countries (or Ireland) are:
 

Austria  Hungary
Belgium   Italy
Bulgaria Latvia
Croatia Lithuania
Czech RepublicThe Netherlands
Estonia  Romania
Finland  Slovakia
France Slovenia
GermanySweden
Greece 

In this guidance we refer to these countries as the EU19.
 

Last updated: 3 May 2024

Which nationalities can vote at which elections?

Which nationalities can vote at which elections?

UK Parliamentary elections

All British, Republic of Ireland and qualifying Commonwealth citizens meet the nationality requirement to register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections.1  

Local government election and Senedd elections

British citizens, citizens from the European Union and qualifying Commonwealth citizens all meet the nationality requirement to register to vote in local government and Senedd elections.2   

Qualifying foreign citizens are entitled to be registered in the register of local government elections but only for the purposes of local government elections3 and Senedd elections.4

Other elections

British citizens, qualifying EU citizens and EU citizens with retained rights and qualifying Commonwealth citizens all meet the nationality requirement to register to vote in Police and Crime Commissioner elections.4

We have produced a resource outlining the nationality requirements for each type of election.

 

Last updated: 3 May 2024

Data protection considerations for the provision of nationality information

Data protection considerations for the provision of nationality information 

Data protection legislation does not affect the requirement for nationality information to be provided on an application. However nationality data is classed as special category of personal data because it may reveal an individual’s racial or ethnic origin. 

Data protection legislation prohibits the processing of special categories of personal data unless an additional lawful basis beyond those for the main purposes of processing data are met. The appropriate lawful basis for processing special categories of personal data for electoral purposes would be that it is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest and with a basis in UK law.

Additionally, the Data Protection Act 2018 requires that in order to process nationality data – whether as part of an application to register, or in relation to staff appointments – you must have in place a ’Policy Document’ which, amongst other things, must explain:

  • the procedures for complying with the data protection principles
  • the policies for retention and erasure

Your policy document will need to reflect your local procedures and policies for the processing, retention and erasure of personal data. 

This policy document must be:

  • kept until six months after the processing ceases
  • reviewed and updated at appropriate times  
  • made available to the ICO on request

Our data protection guidance for EROs and ROs contains further information on special categories of data and the need for a policy document. The guidance also highlights the need to ensure that a Privacy Notice is published on your website before carrying out any collection of data.

Last updated: 5 June 2023

Your powers to request further information

Your powers to request further information

If you are not satisfied that an applicant or elector is eligible to be registered, you have the powers to request documentary evidence from them in regard to their residency, date of birth and/or nationality.

You also have the general power to require any third party to provide information about any aspect in relation to a person’s entitlement to be registered.1

You separately have the power to require information from any other person for the purposes of maintaining the register.2  Failure to respond to a request for information could lead to a £1,000 fine.3 Where you formally request information you should make clear the maximum fine they may incur if they do not respond.

If any fee is payable in connection with the production of the evidence you require, you must pay the fee and treat it as part of the registration expenses paid by the local authority.4

Guidance on the use of this power to verify applicants who cannot provide any of the information required on an application is contained in our guidance on the exceptions process.
 

Last updated: 14 October 2020

Requesting evidence of residency at a particular address

Requesting evidence of residency at a particular address

If you are not satisfied that an applicant or elector is resident at a particular address, you can ask them to provide further information.1 For example, you may have local knowledge that suggests that the applicant is not resident. While it will be in the interest of the elector or applicant to respond, you cannot require them to provide you with this information. Where they do not respond and you cannot obtain this information through other means, you may put their application on hold or review their registration.

You could also use your power to require information from any other person for the purposes of maintaining the register2  in regard to an applicant or elector’s residence in some circumstances, for example, you could require those in charge of multiple occupation establishments to provide you with information on residents. 

Last updated: 1 June 2020

Requesting evidence of someone's date of birth

Requesting evidence of someone's date of birth

Date of birth checks form part of the application verification process. 

If you are not satisfied as to any applicant or elector’s age, you have the power to require the applicant or elector to provide documentary evidence confirming their date of birth.1  You can ask for the following evidence that will help you decide whether or not someone satisfies the age criterion:2  

  • a birth certificate
  • a certificate of naturalisation
  • a document showing that a person has become a citizen of another Commonwealth country (although this may, in some cases, not include a date of birth)

If someone does not know their date of birth, there are certain documents you can require them to submit to you under the exceptions process. You also have the power to request additional evidence in order to verify the identity of an applicant.

Last updated: 14 October 2020

Requesting evidence of someone’s nationality or immigration status

Requesting evidence of someone’s nationality or immigration status 

Evidence of nationality

If you are not satisfied as to any applicant or elector’s nationality, you have the power to require the applicant or elector to provide documentary evidence confirming their nationality. You can ask for the following evidence:  

  • a birth certificate
  • a certificate of naturalisation
  • where a person has made an application to register as an overseas elector, further evidence as to their status as a British citizen
  • a document showing that someone has become a Commonwealth citizen
Evidence of immigration status for EU citizens with retained rights to determine eligibility to register and vote in Police and Crime Commissioner elections

If you are not satisfied as to any applicant or elector’s immigration status, you have the power to consider local data or ask the applicant or elector to provide documentary evidence to prove their immigration status.

EROs may hold or have access to a range of data for the purpose of their registration duties and the legislation is not prescriptive about what data can be used to help establish if an elector is an EU citizen with retained rights.

If your EMS holds sufficient registration history to identify if an EU19 citizen was registered prior to the implementation period commencement date (IPCD), you can use this information to determine them as eligible to register and vote in Police and Crime Commissioner elections as an EU citizen with retained rights.

If you do not have access to registration history and still require further information in order to determine whether the elector is an EU citizen with retained rights, you may require the elector, if they have not already done so, to declare they have been in the UK since before IPCD and provide a share code that will allow you to view the elector’s immigration status using the view and prove service (Opens in new window). 

The confirmation of the date an elector arrived in the UK is important because the view and prove service will only provide assurance of a current immigration status which can also be applied to individuals here on the family scheme who may have arrived post-IPCD. 

Some applicants will not be able to provide a code and, in these circumstances, you should request any letters or documents issued by the Home Office which confirms the current or historical immigration status of the elector.

If documentary evidence is provided by an applicant and the name on any document differs from the name under which an applicant is applying to be registered the applicant should also provide evidence which should show a clear link between the evidence and the name in which they are applying to register.

Acceptable documents to prove this link may include:

  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • overseas marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • enrolled deed poll
  • unenrolled deed poll or change of name deed
  • statutory declaration or affidavit
  • baptismal or confirmation certificate (for first names only)birth certificate
  • certificate of naturalisation or registration
  • adoption order/certificate

This list is not exhaustive and it is for you to decide whether a document constitutes satisfactory proof of a link between the name of the elector and any other documentary evidence.

You should request copies of the evidence either by post or by electronic means. The applicant may attend your offices in person with either copies or original documents if they do not wish to send copies. Copies of documents provided by applicants, or taken by you of the original documents, must be stored securely in the same way as application forms.

You must be satisfied that the documents or copies provided appear to be genuine. If you have any doubts, or if the copy is of such poor quality that you cannot make an assessment, you may ask the applicant to present the original document(s) to you in person or to send original documents to be copied and returned. However, you should be aware that you would become responsible for the secure transit of the document. 

Where there has been more than one change of name, the applicant should provide sufficient documentary evidence to show a clear link between their name on the documentary evidence and the name in which they wish to register.

Evidence of immigration status for any eligible nationality for UK Parliamentary and Police and Crime Commissioner elections

In order to be entitled to register to vote in UK Parliamentary and Police and Crime Commissioner elections a person must be legally resident in the UK. If you are in any doubt as to whether an applicant or elector is legally resident, you can request the applicant or elector provides a statutory declaration that

  • they are a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland 
  • for Police and Crime Commissioner elections that they are a qualifying EU citizen, or an EU citizen with retained rights

You may also request a check of a person’s immigration status against Home Office records. 

Further guidance on this process and contact details are available by contacting the Home Office (Opens in new window). You will be asked to complete a template which will be provided – please complete and return the section below the heading ‘Subject 1’ to the same email address. The Home Office have requested one template per subject per email, and that ‘ER’ be added to the subject header for each email to ensure that it goes into the correct folder for a response. The Home Office will respond within five working days unless a file is required, in which case it will respond within ten working days. The fact that you may require additional evidence of an applicant’s nationality, and may request checks of a person’s immigration status against Government records is included on the registration application form approved by the Minister and made available to you by the Commission.
 



 

Last updated: 3 May 2024

How does legal incapacity affect the right to register to vote?

How does legal incapacity affect the right to register to vote?

A person subject to a legal incapacity to vote cannot be included on the register of electors.1

Peers

Peers who are members of the House of Lords2 are disqualified from voting at UK Parliamentary elections and therefore are not entitled to be registered in the UK Parliamentary register of electors. They do, however, qualify to be registered in the local government register of electors as they are not disqualified from voting in local government elections.3

A full list of members of the House of Lords can be found on the House of Lords website. Alternatively, the Information Office at the House of Lords will be able to assist with enquiries by email or can be contacted by telephoning 0800 223 0855 or 020 7219 3107.

Detained convicted prisoners

Detained convicted prisoners who have been found guilty of an offence (excluding contempt of court) and are detained in prison (except for detention in consequence of non-compliance with a non-custodial sentence) are not legally capable of voting and therefore not eligible to be included in the register of electors. This applies whether the person is in prison or unlawfully at large.4

It is possible in some limited circumstances, convicted prisoners who are released on temporary licence may meet the criteria to register to vote, given that such prisoners may not be detained within the meaning of section 3 RPA 1983.

Convicted offenders detained in a mental health hospital 

Convicted offenders that are detained in a mental health hospital (or are unlawfully at large) are not legally capable of voting and therefore cannot be included in the register of electors.5

Persons found guilty of electoral offences

Persons found guilty of:

  • the corrupt practice of personation
  • found guilty of a corrupt practice relating to applications for postal and proxy votes

are legally incapable of being registered to vote for five years from the date of the conviction or the report of an election court.6

Persons found guilty of:

  • knowingly voting or applying to vote when subject to a legal incapacity to vote
  • knowingly appointing a proxy who is subject to a legal incapacity to vote
  • knowingly voting as proxy on behalf of someone who is subject to a legal incapacity to vote
  • multiple voting (both as an elector or a proxy)

are legally incapable of being registered to vote for three years from the date of the conviction or election court report:7

There may be some occasions where a court does not impose any further incapacity to register to vote or mitigates or ends any existing incapacity. You will therefore need to make a determination on a case-by-case basis, having regard where possible to any judgments or court reports. A successful appeal against a conviction would also remove the legal incapacity.

Last updated: 10 August 2021

How does mental capacity affect the right to register to vote?

How does mental capacity affect the right to register to vote?

A lack of mental capacity is not a legal incapacity to vote.1  Persons who meet the other registration qualifications are eligible for registration regardless of their mental capacity.

Voting rights

While electors with any level or no level of mental capacity may be registered to vote, the decision as to whether and how to vote at an election must be made by the elector themselves and not by any other person on their behalf. Those who care for or who otherwise make decisions on behalf of a person may not make decisions on voting.

 

Last updated: 27 October 2023
Last updated: 9 May 2024

Special category electors

Special category electors

Special arrangements apply to some electors, including those who do not meet the usual residence qualification.   

These are:

  • overseas electors, i.e. British citizens living outside the UK
  • HM forces service voters (and their spouses or civil partners)
  • people under 18 years old and living with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM forces. They must be living in Wales or would be living in Wales if their parent or guardian were not based overseas
  • Crown servants and British Council employees (and their spouses or civil partners)
  • people under 18 years old and living with a parent or guardian who is a Crown servant or British Council employee serving abroad provided they would be living in Wales if their parent or guardian were not based overseas
  • electors who have a declaration of local connection, who include people living in the UK but who have no permanent address or fixed address 
  • people under 16 who are, or have been, looked after by a local authority or are currently being kept in secure accommodation (they must have previously resided at an address in Wales)
  • anonymously registered electors, i.e. those who can register anonymously because their safety would be at risk if they appeared on the register using their name
  • patients in mental health hospitals whose stay at the hospital is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there
  • remand prisoners whose stay at a penal institution is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there

As well as providing the same information as ordinary electors in their application to register, they must provide additional specific information, through a declaration, to register as a special category elector.

ITR Reminders

The duty to send a second and third invitation to non-responding new potential electors and the duty to make at least one personal visit does not apply where someone has made an application1 :

  • under Section 7(2) or 7A(2) of the RPA 1983 
  • by making a declaration of local connection, service declaration or overseas elector’s declaration 
  • to register anonymously

Data protection

Data protection legislation requires you to have a policy document in place when processing special categories of personal data, which includes nationality data received as part of an application to register.

We have produced guidance on the requirement to have a policy document when processing special categories of personal data, including what it must contain

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Overseas electors - (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Overseas electors (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Some British citizens may register as overseas electors if they are now living abroad.

Subject to the conditions outlined below, a British citizen living abroad is entitled to be registered as an overseas elector if they are either:1

  • a person who is (or was) included in a register of Parliamentary electors before they left the UK 
  • a person who was too young to be included on the register at the time they left the UK

Conditions that apply to a person who is (or was) included in a register of Parliamentary electors before they left the UK:

All of the following conditions must be satisfied:2

  • the entry on the register was made on the basis that they were resident, or treated for the purposes of registration as resident, at that address
  • the entry on the register was in force within 15 years of the date given on the declaration provided as part of the application to register as an overseas elector
  • they have not appeared in any other electoral register for any other qualifying address since being last registered at the application address

Conditions that apply to a person who was too young to be included on the register at the time they left the UK:

All of the following conditions must be satisfied:3  

  • they have last lived in the UK within 15 years of the date given on the declaration provided as part of their application to register 
  • they were too young to have been included in a register of electors prior to residing overseas
  • they have the name of a parent or guardian included in a register of electors for the address at which they were residing prior to living overseas
Last updated: 14 December 2023

How to make a new application to register as an overseas elector (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Individuals can make a new application to register as an overseas elector:

  • online via the central government website - www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
  • by providing the necessary information in writing (e.g. on a paper form)
  • by telephone (if you offer the service)

Online applications

Overseas electors may apply through the register to vote website.

The register to vote website allows applications to register as an ordinary elector to be made by those aged 14 years old or over. However, only those aged 16 years old or over may apply through the register to vote website as special category electors.

Paper applications

You must use the special category elector registration forms approved by the Minister for The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in consultation with the Welsh Minister and made available by the Commission on our website. The prescribed forms include a data protection statement and the prescribed description of the electoral and open registers.

Telephone applications

For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer this service wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act 2010,  as people who may have difficulties completing the paper or online form will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone registration for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist applicants with disabilities in order to meet equalities obligations.

Last updated: 14 December 2023

What must be included in an application from an overseas elector? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

What must be included in an application from an overseas elector? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

An application to register as an overseas elector must contain all of the following:1  

  • the applicant’s full name
  • the last UK address at which they were registered
  • a correspondence address 
  • any address where they have ceased to reside in the 12 months prior to the date of the application and, where that address is not in the UK, an indication of whether they were registered as an overseas elector during this period
  • an indication of whether they are resident at any other address, including any address where they are currently registered and claim to be entitled to remain registered
  • the applicant’s date of birth or, if unable to provide this information, the reason why they are unable to do so and a statement as to whether the applicant is under 18 years old or aged 76 or over  
  • the applicant’s National Insurance number or, if they are not able to provide this, the reason they are not able to do so
  • an indication of whether their name should be omitted from the edited register
  • a declaration that the contents of the application are true
  • the date of the application
  • the appropriate declaration

If an overseas applicant changed their name before their details last appeared on an electoral register in the UK, they may also provide their previous name, but this is not mandatory. However, it may help in verifying their identity and the application form must provide space for the applicant to provide this information if they wish. 

The declaration must be dated and must state:2  

  • the applicant’s full name and present address
  • their previous name, and the reason for the change, if they changed their name since they last appeared on an electoral register in the UK
  • that they are a British citizen
  • that they are not resident in the UK on the relevant date
  • the date when they ceased to be resident in the UK or, in the case of a person relying on registration in pursuance of a service declaration, when they ceased to have a service qualification or, if later, ceased to be so resident
  • which of the two sets of conditions to qualify as an overseas elector apply – and the additional appropriate details for each as set out in the table below 
First set of conditionsAdditional details required

Applicant previously registered in the UK

 

 

 

 

- The address in the UK at which they were registered

- If they were last registered in pursuance of a service or other declaration, rather than actual residence at the address and no longer had connection with the address at the time at which they were so registered, a statement that they were so registered

- If their name has changed since they were last registered in respect of the address, the name under which they had last previously registered and the reason for the name change

 

Second set of conditionsAdditional details required

Applicant too young to be registered at the time they left the UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Their date of birth

- The address in the UK at which they were resident

- The name of the parent or guardian on whose registration in respect of that address they rely

- Whether the person named was a parent or guardian

- If the applicant has not on a previous occasion made an overseas elector's declaration following which they were registered, the applicant’s birth certificate must be sent together with the declaration. The birth certificate must contain the applicant’s date of birth and the names of either or both of the parents 

- Where the applicant’s name on their birth certificate (if required to be submitted) is not the same as their name as given in the declaration, the reason for the change of name. 

- Where the applicant is required to provide their birth certificate and they rely on the registration of either a parent whose name in the register is not the same as the name of that parent as given in either the applicant’s birth certificate or in the declaration or a guardian whose name in the register is not the same as the name of that guardian as given in the declaration, the name of the parent or guardian as given in the register and, where known, the reason for the change or, as the case may be, changes of name or, where such reason (or reasons) is not known, a statement to that effect

  • if they were previously registered as an overseas elector and have not, since being so registered, been registered in such a register by virtue of being resident or treated for the purposes of registration as resident at an address in the United Kingdom, a statement of those facts and indicate when they were last registered as an overseas elector
  • if they have never made an overseas declaration before or if they have not made such a declaration since being registered by virtue of being resident or treated for the purposes of registration as resident at an address in the United Kingdom:
    • if they have a British passport which describes their national status as ‘British citizen’, the number, date and place of issue of that passport
    • if they do not have such a passport, but were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, that fact
    • if they do not have such a passport and were not born in the UK before 1 January 1983, a statement of when and how they acquired British citizenship, together with the date, place and country of their birth

Depending on which of the two sets of conditions to qualify as an overseas elector apply, the additional details outlined in the table above are also required.

A declaration may not specify more than one UK address.3  Where more than one declaration bearing the same date is made specifying different addresses in the UK, the declarations will be void.

Last updated: 14 December 2023

How is the 15 year period calculated? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

How is the 15 year period calculated? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

For electors who are (or were) included in a register of Parliamentary electors before they left the UK

The 15 year period begins from the last day that the elector was last on a register of electors in the UK, either as an ordinary elector or as a service voter.1  The date the elector left the UK is irrelevant.
 
The 15 year requirement will be met if both the application and declaration are dated within 15 years of the last date the applicant appeared on a register. The application/declaration is deemed to be made on the date that it is dated.


For electors who were too young to be included on a register of electors when they left the UK

If someone was too young to have registered before they left the UK (including as an attainer), the 15 year period begins from the date they claim to have left the UK.2

Last updated: 14 December 2023

How should an application from an overseas elector be processed? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

How should an application from an overseas elector be processed? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged, although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement if you wish. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

All applications and declarations should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt.

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area you should forward it to the relevant ERO without delay.

Potential overseas electors who fail the DWP match must provide an attestation as to their identity. You must write to the applicant informing them that it has not been possible to verify their identity and ask them to supply an attestation.

You may wish to create a form which contains the necessary legal statements and requirements for the attestation. Alternatively, you may wish to set this detail out in the letter to the applicant. In all cases, you must communicate the legislative requirements for an attestation.1

The attestation must:

  • be in writing
  • confirm that the applicant is the person stated on the overseas elector application
  • be signed by a registered elector who is a British citizen living overseas and who is not the spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the applicant
  • state the full name, address and occupation of the person signing the attestation
  • state the attestor’s British passport number together with its date and place of issue
  • state the date on which the attestation is made

Persons attesting overseas applications should be registered electors who are a British citizens living overseas and may attest an unlimited number of applications.

You may wish to set a deadline date for the applicant to respond; this will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to applicants to respond is at the discretion of the ERO; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to source and return their attestation. You should consider whether to allow additional time for overseas electors, bearing in mind the distance the elector lives from the UK.

Confirming applications and declarations

If you have determined that an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them in writing that their registration application has been successful.2
 
You should also include, alongside the confirmation letter, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place you should make clear what their absent voting options are. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must return the declaration, notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.3
 
Where an existing overseas elector has successfully renewed their declaration, there is no requirement to send them a confirmation notice. You may, however, still decide to send them further information confirming that their renewal has been successful, which you could do by e-mail. This communication could also include information on when their declaration will expire, how and when they will next be reminded to renew it, what absent voting arrangements they have in place and, if they have none, information on absent voting options.

You should make the elector aware of the general timings for dispatching postal votes ahead of an election and could advise the elector to appoint a proxy as an alternative if it is not realistic for their postal ballot pack to be dispatched, completed and returned before the close of poll. It is, of course, the elector’s choice as to which method of voting they prefer, but it is important that they can make an informed decision. Further information can be found in our guidance on absent voting
 

Last updated: 14 December 2023

How should overseas electors be listed in the register? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

How should overseas electors be listed in the register? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Overseas electors should be listed as other electors at the end of each relevant part of the register and entries must be shown without an address. They must be grouped in alphabetical order together with any service voters and persons registered by making a declaration of local connection.1  All overseas electors must have the letter F prefixed before their name.2
 

Last updated: 14 December 2023

How long are overseas declarations valid for? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

How long are overseas declarations valid for? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

An overseas declaration is valid for 12 months. Registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:

  • cancellation by the elector1   
  • you determine the person is not entitled to be registered2  
  • you determine the person was registered, or that their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e. not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)3   
  • if another entry is made in respect of the elector in any register of electors4   

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions

A declaration received later than three months after it is dated must be rejected.5 The applicant should be informed and invited to submit a fresh declaration.

An overseas voter may cancel their declaration at any time.6 The cancellation of an overseas declaration will cancel any absent voting arrangement made in connection with that declaration, even if the elector registers as an ordinary elector at the same qualifying address.
 

Last updated: 14 December 2023

Renewal of overseas declarations (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Renewal of overseas declarations (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

A person registered as an overseas elector is entitled to remain registered until the end of the 12 month period beginning with the date when the entry first takes effect, provided the other conditions for registration remain satisfied.1  

You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent.

You must remind every overseas elector of the need to make a fresh declaration if they wish to remain registered.2 The reminder must be sent between 9 and 10 months after the date when the overseas entry first takes effect3 and should include a declaration for the overseas elector to complete.

You are required to send a second reminder if they have not responded to the first not less than 21 days and not more than 28 days after sending the first reminder.4   
 
Reminders must not be sent where you have received information that the person is no longer entitled to make the relevant declaration or no longer wishes to be registered as an overseas elector.5
 
Where a declaration is not renewed within the 12 month period and the person is removed from the register, they will also lose any absent voting arrangement they had in place.

Further information about notifying electors of loss of entitlement to absent voting arrangements can be found in our guidance on absent voting.
 

Last updated: 14 December 2023

Overseas electors (Post commencement of Elections Act measures)

This section contains guidance on who can make an application to register as an overseas elector and how an application can be made.

To be eligible to register as an overseas elector an individual must meet either the previously registered or previously resident eligibility conditions and pass identity verification checks.

The previously registered condition applies to a person who was previously registered to vote in the UK, either before they left the UK or as an overseas elector and the previously resident condition applies to a person who was previously resident in the UK (including those who left the UK before they were old enough to register to vote).

The guidance covers the actions you should take as ERO to carry out both stages of processing these applications. It includes guidance on how to carry out checks of further information to be able to be satisfied that an elector meets the eligibility conditions for overseas electors and passes the identity verification checks, through use of the IER digital service, local data matching, and where necessary the exceptions and attestation processes.

It also covers absent voting arrangements for overseas electors and how overseas electors will be shown on the register of electors.

 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Transitional arrangements for overseas electors

The commencement of The Representation of the People (Overseas Electors) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will take place on 16 January 2024. 

In addition to the expansion of the franchise for British citizens living overseas and changes to eligibility conditions, the new provisions also change the renewal cycle for overseas electors. 

Following commencement, transitional arrangements will be in place to cover the change to the renewal cycle from every 12 months to every 3 years for existing overseas electors. 

You should ensure that applications and renewals received while the transitional arrangements are in place are date stamped to enable you to tell when an overseas elector application or renewal has been received. Overseas elector applications made online will be electronically dated and time-stamped when received into the ERO Portal (EROP). You should date stamp paper applications upon receipt so that you have an audit trail of which applications were received.

This will enable you to process the application or renewal in line with the guidance contained in this section.

Existing electors due for renewal close to commencement on 16 January 2024

Overseas electors who remain registered under the previous rules and whose declaration will expire after the new provisions commence will be able to renew using either a new-style renewal application form or an old-style full application form.

An old-style renewal form will not contain all the necessary information to enable the application to be processed if it is received after the commencement of the new regulations and must be rejected. 

A new-style renewal form cannot be processed until after the commencement of the new provisions. 

As such you may decide to send full old-style application forms to existing overseas electors who are due for renewal close to the commencement date to ensure you can process their renewal application without delay regardless of whether it is received back before or after the commencement of the new regulations.

New applications to register received but not determined before commencement on 16 January 2024 

Any outstanding old-style application to register forms or renewals from overseas electors which have been received by you before 16 January 2024 but have not yet been determined will continue to have a 12-month expiry period. Only applications received after 16 January 2024 will be on the 3-year renewal cycle.

Overseas electors with existing postal votes

Postal voting arrangements in place for overseas electors made before the 31 October 2023 will end no later than the period of registration remaining on their existing declaration (which will not exceed 12 months). You will need to contact the elector before their declaration expires to advise them that they will need to reapply for a postal vote. Our guidance on Absent vote applications made outside of the overseas elector renewal cycle has more information.

Overseas electors with existing proxy votes

Proxy vote arrangements made before 31 October 2023 for all electors - including overseas electors - will be revoked on 31 January 2024. All electors will need to reapply for a proxy voting arrangement before this date.

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Eligibility conditions for registering as an overseas elector

British citizens(which includes eligible Irish citizens and citizens of the Crown Dependencies)1 may register as overseas electors if they are now living abroad, providing they are:

  • a person who was previously registered2 to vote in the UK, either before they left the UK or as an overseas elector – known as the previously registered condition
  • a person who was previously resident in the UK (including those who left the UK before they were old enough to register to vote) – known as the previously resident condition

Applicants must apply to register as an overseas elector in respect of the address where they were last registered to vote in the UK3 or if they have never been registered, the last address at which they were resident in the UK.

Previously registered condition

An applicant must use the previously registered condition4 if they have at any point been previously registered to vote in the UK.

If an applicant has been previously registered at more than one address, they should apply in respect of the one they were most recently registered at. 

If an applicant was previously registered in respect of more than one address simultaneously then the elector must pick which one of those addresses to register in connection with.

Examples of individuals who may be eligible to register under this condition include:

  • a person who, before they left the UK, was registered to vote as an ordinary elector
  • a person who has previously been registered as an overseas elector and whose declaration has expired a person who left the UK but who was on a local government register in Wales as an attainer or pre attainer 
  • a person last registered on the basis of a declaration of local connection, merchant seaman or a service voter

Previously resident condition

To be eligible under the previously resident condition an applicant must have been previously resident in the UK but never been registered to vote. This includes:

  • a person who was resident in the UK but not registered 
  • a person who was too young to register when they left the UK
  • a person who was of no fixed abode when they left the UK5 and who would have been eligible to make a declaration of local connection or who left the UK before 2001 (when declaration of local connection provisions were not in force).
     
Last updated: 13 December 2023

How to make a new application to register as an overseas elector

Individuals can make a new application to register as an overseas elector:

  • online via the central government website - www.gov.uk/register-to-vote 
  • by providing the necessary information in writing (e.g. on a paper form)
  • telephone (if you offer the service)

Online applications

The online application portal is hosted on GOV.UK. If you have an email address for a potential elector you could, in the first instance, use it to encourage them to submit an online application or issue an application by electronic means.

Existing overseas electors who are renewing their registration can provide their declaration in any format, so a letter, email or paper application form are acceptable.1 Our guidance on the renewals process for existing overseas electors has more information on this.

Paper applications

We produce printable overseas elector application forms which you can use. They are published on our website and on GOV.UK. We also provide versions of the forms in a range of accessible formats, such as large print and easy read.

Telephone applications

For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer this service wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act 2010, as people who may have difficulties completing a paper or online application will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone applications for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist disabled applicants in order to help as many electors as possible register to vote and to meet equalities obligations.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

What must an application to register as an overseas elector contain?

An application to register as an overseas elector must contain all of the following:

  • the applicant’s full name1  
  • the applicant’s date of birth or, if they are unable to provide this, the reason why and a statement as to whether the applicant is under 18 years old or aged 76 or over2
  • the applicant’s National Insurance number or, if they are not able to provide this, the reason they are not able to do so3
  • an indication of whether their name should be omitted from the edited register4
  • if the application is accompanied by an application for an anonymous entry, a statement of that fact5
  • a declaration that the contents of the application are true6
  • the date of the application7
  • the appropriate declaration (the details of the content of the declaration are listed below).

The declaration must include:8

  • the full name of the person making the declaration9
  • the applicant’s present address (to be used for correspondence)10
  • a statement that the applicant is a British citizen11
  • a statement that the applicant is not resident in the UK on the date of the declaration12
  • a statement as to whether the applicant is seeking to be registered based on the previous registration condition or the previous residence condition13
  • a statement that the applicant believes the matters stated in the declaration to be true14
  • if they have a British passport which describes their national status as a British citizen, the number, date and place of issue of that passport – even if that passport has expired15
  • if they do not have such a passport but were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, a statement of that fact16  
  • if they do not have such a passport and were not born in the UK before 1 January 1983, a statement of when and how they acquired British citizenship, together with the date, place and country of their birth17
  • the date of the declaration18   

If an applicant's has a correspondence address that is different from their present address they may provide both addresses in their declaration. You may maintain a record of both the present and correspondence address but only the present address is published on the list of overseas electors.  For more information, see our guidance on How should overseas electors be listed in the register?  

A declaration received later than three months after it is dated must be rejected.19 The applicant should be informed and invited to submit a fresh declaration.

Depending on the qualifying condition the applicant is applying under, the application must contain additional information either related to the previously registered or previously resident condition as appropriate.

Applicant is using the previously registered qualifying condition

If the applicant is using the previously registered qualifying condition, the declaration must also include the following:

  • the last UK address at which they were registered20  
  • when they were last included on a register there21  
  • a statement that the applicant’s entry in that register ceased to have effect and that they have not been included in any electoral register since (whether in respect of that or any other address)22   
  • if they have changed their name since they were last registered, their previous name and the reason for the change of name23
  • an indication if the applicant was previously registered via:24  
    • an overseas elector’s declaration
    • a service declaration 
    • a declaration of local connection

If an applicant states on their declaration that they were simultaneously registered in respect of two addresses before they left the UK, you should advise the applicant to nominate one of these as part of their application to register.

Applicant is using the previously resident qualifying condition

If the applicant is using the previously resident qualifying condition, the application must also include the following:

  • the UK address at which they were resident25
  • when they were last resident there26  
  • a statement that since being resident at that address, the applicant has not been resident at any other address in the UK27   
  • if they have changed their name since they were last resident, their previous name and the reason for the change of name28  
  • If they were younger than 18 when they left the UK29 (the applicant may provide documentary evidence or information as evidence as part of their declaration)30  

If the applicant is using the previously resident qualifying condition, on the basis that they could have made a declaration of local connection in respect of an address,31 the following information must be included in the declaration:

  • the address in respect of which the applicant could have made a declaration of local connection on the last day on which the applicant was resident32  
  • a statement as to which category of declaration of local connection applied33  and, if the category of declaration of local connection was as a mental health patient, the name and address of the hospital34
  • if they have changed their name since they were last resident at the address at which they could have made a declaration of local connection, their previous name and the reason for the change of name35
Last updated: 19 April 2024

Anonymous overseas electors

A person may apply to be an anonymous overseas elector if they meet the qualifications for both overseas and anonymous elector registration1

Anonymous domestic electors must reapply to register on an annual basis. However, as an overseas elector entitlement lasts for three years, overseas electors who wish to register anonymously may reapply for an anonymous entry on the register each year without having to reapply to register as an overseas elector.2

Anonymous electors must provide their qualifying address for their overseas application in their application to be registered anonymously.

Anonymous registration applications may be submitted electronically (by email) but cannot be submitted via the online application portal. However, all anonymous renewals must still contain a wet-ink signature. Digital signatures, as written by a stylus or similar device, may not be used.

Anonymous overseas electors will be listed differently in the register to other overseas electors. For more information, please see our guidance on how anonymous electors appear in the register.

For more information on the requirements of anonymous registration, please see our guidance on anonymous electors
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Processing overseas elector applications

This section contains guidance on the actions you should take as ERO to process a new application to register as an overseas elector. 

There are two types of verification that must be carried out before you can determine an application. 

You must:

  • verify that the applicant meets the condition of being previously registered or previously resident at the address provided in their application
  • verify the applicant’s identity 

The applicant will either have provided an address at which they were previously registered or an address at which they were previously resident. You can find further information in our guidance on Eligibility conditions for registering as an overseas elector.

This section provides guidance on the information you can use to be satisfied that the applicant qualifies under either condition, and on how you should verify an applicant’s identify.

All applications and declarations including any documentary evidence should be processed as soon as possible after receipt.

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area, you should forward it to the relevant ERO without delay.

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged, although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement if you wish. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation of whether the application is successful or not. Our guidance on confirming applications and declarations has more information on this. 
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Checking the applicants qualification to register under the previously registered condition

For an applicant to qualify to register under this condition they must have been previously registered to vote in the UK and are required to provide the address in respect of which they were last registered. 

This is in addition to the need to verify the applicant’s identity. You must be satisfied that the applicant was previously registered at that address they have provided.1 In most instances, this will involve checking previous registers where these are held, either digitally or in hard copy. Retaining historical registers for as long as is practicable will assist you with undertaking such checks of  applicants’ previous registration.

Checking electoral registers 

The applicant will have provided a date that they were last registered as part of their declaration. 

If an applicant has recently moved overseas the current register can be checked to find their registration entry. However if an applicant left the UK some time ago and you hold historical registers in an easily accessible format or location, you should check whether the applicant was on the relevant register. 

An applicant’s declaration may contain other information that can assist you to locate their previous registration. For example, if the applicant was last registered as an overseas elector, service voter or via a declaration of local connection, they may be listed in a distinct part of the register.

A person may qualify under the previous registration condition even if they were only registered for local elections or as an attainer, so you should ensure that you check all the registers you hold, not just the parliamentary register. 

Information that an applicant has changed their name since they were last registered may also assist you in identifying the previous registration of the applicant more easily.

You should check registers either side of the date the applicant claims they were last registered, to cover the possibility that the applicant may have supplied the wrong date.

If you cannot find the applicant’s entry, you cannot confirm that the elector was previously registered. You should consider this as evidence that the person has applied in respect of an address at which they are not entitled to register, on the basis of the previously registered condition, and reject the application on that basis.

You should consider how accessible older copies of the register are, especially those that are from before the 15 year period relevant to the previous overseas elector registration rules.

When is it not feasible to use electoral registers to check an applicant’s qualification to register under the previously registered condition?

It may not always be feasible to check electoral registers, for example:

  • the applicant left the UK a long time ago and you are unable to access the relevant register or you no longer hold it because it is stored offsite and/or archived or it is held outside the EMS in an inaccessible format
  • if the time and/or cost of doing so would significantly affect the ERO’s ability to complete other duties and which may adversely impact other applicants and electors

Next steps if you are unable to use electoral registers to check an applicant’s qualification under the previously registered condition

You should not take a decision to reject an application based solely on a register check not being feasible.

If you are unable to check electoral registers, you can choose to use other information available to you to assist you in being satisfied that the applicant meets the previously registered condition.

These include:

If, after you have carried out the checks of other information available, you remain unable to be satisfied that the applicant meets the previously registered condition, you can choose to either:

  • review your decision relating to the feasibility of checking electoral registers
  • reject the application
  • consider any exceptional circumstances

There may be exceptional circumstances where an applicant is unable to provide you with documentary evidence to support their application and is also unable to provide an attestation. In these circumstances, you should ask the applicant for an explanation as to the specific reasons why they are unable to provide you with the evidence or attestation. If you are satisfied with the explanation given, you may consider the information included in an applicant’s declaration is sufficient evidence that they meet the previously registered condition, given that you have attempted, but been unable to, obtain either documentary evidence or an attestation from the applicant.

You should be sure you have taken all the steps available to you before taking a decision to reject an application. 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Checking the applicants qualification to register under the previously resident condition

For an applicant to qualify to register under this condition, they must have been previously resident in the UK and not have been previously registered. If the previously resident condition applies, applicants are required to provide the last address at which they were resident in the UK. This is in addition to the need to verify the applicant’s identity.

You must be satisfied that an applicant was previously resident at that address.1 You can use any additional information available to you to assist you in being satisfied that the applicant meets the previously resident condition. Our guidance on Carrying out checks of further information to satisfy the eligibility conditions for overseas electors has more information. 

If after you have carried out the checks of other information available, you remain unable to be satisfied that the applicant meets the previously resident condition, you can reject the application.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Carrying out checks of further information to satisfy the eligibility conditions for overseas electors

This section contains guidance on the other sources of information you can use to check that an applicant meets the eligibility conditions.

The sources of information you can use include:

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Using the results of the automated match against DWP records

In order to complete the identity check that is also required for an overseas elector to register to vote, information contained in an application to register is sent to the DWP for matching.

This will include a check of the postcode for the address at which the applicant was previously registered or previously resident.

A positive DWP match may therefore provide you with sufficient evidence to be satisfied that the applicant can be linked to the previous address provided in their application, as well as providing verification of their identity. 
 

Last updated: 19 March 2024

Using local data matching for the purpose of processing overseas elector applications

Local data matching can provide you with further information which you can use to make a decision as to whether to allow a new application.

Matching against local data allows you to use data sources to:1

  • inform your decision as whether you are satisfied that an applicant meets either the previously registered or previously resident conditions
  • verify an applicant’s identity

Local data-matching should only be used if you are satisfied that the data sources available to you can satisfy the requirements of the task. 

Our guidance on Deciding whether to use local data for verification and Potential data sources for local data matching contains more information about local data matching. 
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Requesting further documentary evidence for an overseas elector application

If you request further documentary evidence from an applicant, you should list the types and quantity of evidence that can be provided. You may also set a deadline date for the applicant to respond. A deadline will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to respond is at your discretion; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to locate and provide the relevant documents.

If an applicant cannot provide the quantity and types of documentary evidence you have requested, they should be asked to provide an address attestation in support of their application.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Using evidence to support determination of eligibility conditions of an overseas elector's application

You may use documentary evidence to determine an applicant’s entitlement to register under the previously registered or previously resident condition.1

Different evidence is required for applicants who left the UK before turning 18.

You may also require documentary evidence of any name changes from when an applicant was previously registered or previously resident.

Documentary evidence can be provided by an applicant at the point of their application or in response to a request from you when you are processing their application. 

Documentary evidence may be uploaded alongside an online application or delivered to your office by hand, by post or as an attachment to an email. Any copies of documents provided by applicants should be stored securely in the same way as application forms. For more information see our guidance on the retention of information submitted with applications.

You should be satisfied that copies provided to you appear to be genuine. Where you have doubt as to whether a document is genuine, you may ask the applicant to provide original documents or alternative documentary evidence. Where original documents or alternative documentary evidence is not available, you should direct the applicant to the address attestation process or reject the application.

Where documentary evidence does not appear to be genuine, you should advise the applicant of the penalties for supplying false information and inform your police Single Point of Contact (SPOC) where you suspect that false information may have been supplied.

For more information, see our ERO guidance on document authenticity checks.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Acceptable evidence for applications made under the previously registered or previously resident condition

If you decide that additional evidence is needed for you to be satisfied that an overseas applicant was previously registered or resident in respect of the relevant address given in their application, you may request the applicant provides a document which meets the evidential requirements.1 The evidential requirements are that the document must show the full current or previous name of the applicant2 and the relevant address.3  

You may choose to accept any document that meets the evidential requirements if you are satisfied that it demonstrates that the applicant was previously registered or resident. Where the document provided is a copy (or original, if requested) of any of the documents listed here, and meets the evidential requirements, you must accept them.4 These documents are:

  • a driving licence granted in the UK (including an expired licence)
  • an instrument of a court appointment, such as a grant of probate or letters of administration
  • a letter from the Office of the Public Guardian confirming the registration of a lasting power of attorney
  • a letter from His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  • a council tax demand letter or statement
  • a rent book issued by a local authority
  • a statement of benefits or entitlement to benefits, such as a statement of child benefit, within the meaning of section 141 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, or a letter confirming that the applicant is entitled to housing benefit, within the meaning of section 130 of that Act
  • a letter from the DWP confirming the applicant’s entitlement to a state pension
  • a letter from a school, college, university or other educational institution which confirms the attendance of, or the offer of a place for, the applicant at that institution
  • a letter from the Student Loans Company
  • an official copy of the land register entry for the relevant address or other proof of title for the relevant address
  • a solicitor’s letter confirming the purchase of, or confirmation of the land registry registration of, the relevant address
  • a Form P45, Form P60, reference or payslip issued to the applicant by their employer or former employer
  • a bank or building society passbook or statement, or a letter from a bank or building society confirming that the applicant has opened an account with that bank or building society
  • a credit card statement
  • a utility or mobile telephone bill
  • a letter from an insurance provider

There are some categories of applicants who can provide alternative documents that meet the evidential requirement. These are:

  • applicants who were previously registered or resident (or could have been) through a declaration of local connection
  • applicants who were previously registered as a service voter or merchant seaman
  • applicants who were previously registered as the spouse or civil partner of a service voter
  • applicants who were previously registered as an overseas elector and, prior to leaving the UK, were registered through a declaration of local connection, as a service voter or as a merchant seaman

Applicants who left the UK before turning 18 are required to provide different evidence to demonstrate that they qualify to register as an overseas elector. For more information see our guidance on using information or documentary evidence to check qualifying condition of applicants who left the UK before turning 18. 
 

Last updated: 29 January 2024

How to use the address attestation process for an overseas elector application


You may require an applicant to provide an address attestation where you consider that additional evidence is necessary to be satisfied that an applicant has a previous connection to the relevant address.1

An address attestation must:2

  • confirm that the applicant was resident at the relevant address3
  • give an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant was resident at that address4
  • be in writing and signed by the qualified attestor5  
  • state the qualifying attestor’s full name, date of birth, occupation, residential address and (if different) the address at which they are registered as an elector6  
  • state7
    • where the qualifying attestor is registered as an overseas elector, the attestor’s British passport number together with its date and place of issue or
    • where the qualifying attestor is registered as a domestic or service voter, the attestor’s electoral number [or, if the qualifying attestor is registered in Northern Ireland, the applicant’s Digital Registration Number (DRN)]
  • include an explanation that the qualifying attestor is able to confirm the applicant met the relevant requirement, including (but not limited to) the qualifying attestor’s connection to the applicant and the length of time that that connection has existed8
  • include an indication that the qualifying attestor is aware that it is an offence to provide false information to the registration officer9  
  • include a declaration by the qualifying attestor that all information provided in the attestation is true10
  • state the date on which it is made11

Where you require an applicant to provide an address attestation, you should write to them to communicate the legislative requirements for an address attestation. You could either design a form containing the necessary legal statements and requirements for an attestation or set out the detail of the requirements in a letter to the applicant. The AEA have developed a template that you could use. 

You could set a deadline date for the applicant to respond. This will help you if you decide to reject an application because no response has been received. The period of time given to applicants to respond is at your discretion. However, you should allow a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to source and return their attestation.

An attestation may be delivered to your office by hand, by post or by electronic means, such as email. If the attestation is sent electronically, the signature of an attestor must be a photograph or scanned image of a handwritten wet signature attached to an email.

You can also require an address attestation for particular categories of elector where you consider that additional evidence is needed. Specific information needs to be included in the address attestations for these categories of elector:

  • those who were treated as resident at a particular address as a merchant seaman12
  • those previously registered as a service voter or overseas elector
  • those previously registered via a declaration of local connection, or those who would have been entitled to register via a declaration of local connection, on the last day on which they were resident in the UK

For more information on the requirements of address attestations for these particular categories of electors, see our guidance on:

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Is the address attestation for an overseas applicant valid and complete?

Is the address attestation for an overseas applicant valid?  

When you receive an address attestation, you must assess whether it is valid.

You should do this by checking whether the attestation is complete and that the attestor meets the requirements to be a qualifying attestor.

Is an address attestation complete?

Does the address attestation meet the following requirements?1  Notes Answer
Confirm that the applicant met the relevant address connection requirementThis would be confirmed by written statement and the attestor signing the attestationYes/No
Give an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement
This should be written on the attestation
Yes/No
Must be in writing and signed by a qualifying attestorThis should be written on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s full nameThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s date of birthThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s occupationThis should be written or printed on the attestation Yes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s residential address and, if different, the address in respect of which the qualifying attestor is registered as an electorThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
If the attestor is an overseas elector, state the qualifying attestor's British or Irish passport number together with its date and place of issueThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
If the attestor is a domestic elector or service voter, state the qualifying attestor’s electoral number [or, if the qualifying attestor is registered in Northern Ireland, the applicant’s Digital Registration Number (DRN)]This should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
Include an explanation as to the attestor's ability to confirm that the applicant met the relevant requirement including (but not limited to) the attestor's connection to the applicant and the length of time that that connection has existedThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
Include confirmation that the qualifying attestor is aware of the offence of providing false information to a registration officerThis would be confirmed by written statement and attestor signing the attestationYes/No
Include a declaration by the qualifying attestor that all of the information provided in the attestation is trueThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the date on which it is madeThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No

If the answer to all these questions is yes, then the applicant has provided a complete attestation. If one or more of the questions are answered with a no, then the attestation is not complete and the applicant must be directed to ask the attestor to supply the missing information.

If an attestor cannot supply the missing information, the applicant should be told that they must seek an attestation from another source, or their application will be rejected. You could set a deadline date for this. This will help you if you decide to reject an application because no response has been received. The period of time given to applicants to respond is at your discretion. However, you should allow a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to source and return their attestation.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Does the attestor meet the requirements to be a qualifying attestor?

For address attestations, qualifying attestors must:1

  • be aged 18 or over2
  • confirm they are not the spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the applicant3
  • be registered as an elector4
  • not have already signed address attestations for two other applicants since either the last publication of the revised register or when the attestor was first added to the register, whichever is the most recent5  

Where an attestor is a domestic elector they must be:

  • a person of good standing in the community6

You should advise the applicant that an attestor is not permitted to charge for providing an attestation.

Good standing

There is no precise definition of good standing; however, for the purposes of an attestation, you should consider it to mean someone who has credentials that can be checked and would suffer professional or reputational damage if they were to provide a false attestation. The list in the table below is not definitive but is intended to illustrate which professions could be described as of good standing:

Examples of professions which could be described as of good standing
  • accountant
  • airline pilot
  • articled clerk of a limited company
  • assurance agent of recognised company
  • bank/building society official
  • barrister
  • chairman/director of limited company
  • chiropodist
  • commissioner of oaths
  • civil servant (permanent)
  • dentist
  • director/manager of a VAT-registered charity
  • director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  • engineer (with professional qualifications)
  • financial services intermediary (e.g. a stockbroker or insurance broker)
  • fire service official
  • funeral director
  • insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  • journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • legal secretary (fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs)
  • licensee of public house
  • local government officer
  • manager/personnel officer (of a limited company)
  • medical professional member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  • Merchant Navy officer
  • minister of a recognised religion (including Christian Science)
  • nurse (RGN and RMN)
  • officer of the armed services
  • optician
  • paralegal (certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals)
  • person with honours (an OBE or MBE, for example)
  • pharmacist
  • photographer (professional)
  • police officer
  • Post Office official
  • publicly elected representative (MP, Councillor etc)
  • president/secretary of a recognised organisation
  • Salvation Army officer
  • social worker
  • solicitor
  • surveyor
  • teacher, lecturer
  • trade union officer
  • travel agent (qualified)
  • valuer or auctioneer (fellows and associate members of the incorporated society)
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

It is important to note that an unemployed/retired person who is of good standing in the community is not precluded from attesting an application.

You must judge each attestation on its individual merits rather than apply a blanket policy.

Is the qualifying attestor registered to vote?

Attestors of an elector’s address must be registered to vote.7 If the attestor’s qualifying or registration address is in the same local authority area as the applicant, you should check your electoral register to confirm whether the attestor satisfies this condition.

If the attestor’s qualifying or registration address is not in the same local authority area as the applicant, you should contact the attestor’s ERO to check if the attestor fulfils the conditions.

Has the attestor already provided address attestations for two individuals within a prescribed period?

Attestors are limited to signing address attestations for no more than two individuals in any one electoral year (normally from 1 December to 30 November), or since their entry was added to the register in that local authority area, whichever is the shortest period.8 You must be satisfied that an attestor has not exceeded the limit. 

Where the limit has been reached, you should reject the attestation for this reason. This does not prevent the applicant from seeking another attestation from a different elector. You should process attestations in the order they are received.

If the attestor fulfils all the conditions, the attestation should be accepted, and you should record this against the elector’s record. This will then count towards this elector’s total allowable address attestations.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Using information or documentary evidence to check qualifying condition of applicants who left the UK before turning 18

An applicant may choose to provide documentary evidence of their own previous residence at a qualifying address. Our guidance on Acceptable evidence for applications made under the previously registered or previously resident condition has more information about the type of documentary evidence that can be provided.

If you are unable to be satisfied by documentary evidence, you may require the applicant to provide an attestation. Our guidance on How to use the address attestation process for an overseas elector application has more information.

In addition to this, applicants who were younger than 18 when they left the UK may make an application under the previously resident condition by demonstrating their connection to their parent or guardian who must have been previously resident at their qualifying address on the last day. 

The applicant may include in their application:

  • the full name of a parent or guardian of the applicant who was resident at the relevant address on the last day
    • if the full name of a parent is provided, the applicant must also provide a copy (or original, if appropriate) of their own birth certificate which includes their date of birth and their parent’s name
    • if the full name of a guardian is provided, you must request that they provide a copy (or original, if appropriate) of evidence that confirms that the person named was their guardian when they left the UK
  • in respect of each parent or guardian, an indication that their parent or guardian was registered at the applicant’s qualifying address

Where an applicant provides a birth certificate or other documentary evidence demonstrating their connection to a parent or guardian and their name on that evidence differs from their current name (or their name at the point they were last registered, which will be supplied under a separate declaration requirement), you should require the applicant to provide an explanation as to the difference in name (if known). 

Where an applicant provides documentary evidence and the name of any nominated parent or guardian differs from the parent or guardian’s name at the point the applicant was last resident, you should require an explanation as to the difference in name (if known). 

You should use the information provided to carry out an electoral register check at the qualifying address to verify if the parent or guardian was registered there.

If you can locate the parent/guardian’s entry on the electoral register at the qualifying address and you are satisfied that the documentary evidence demonstrates the applicant’s connection to the named parent/guardian you can process the application.

If you are not able to find an applicant’s parent or guardian’s entry on an electoral register at the relevant address it doesn’t necessarily mean that the applicant was not resident. 

You may request further documentary evidence of applicant’s own previous residence at the qualifying address. Or if you are unable to be satisfied that the applicant’s previous residence at the qualifying address can be demonstrated via a register check for the parent/guardian or by documentary evidence, you may require the applicant to provide an attestation. 
 


 

Last updated: 15 May 2024

Requiring additional documentary evidence as to declaration of local connection

This section applies where an applicant was:

  • previously registered via a declaration of local connection
  • on the last day on which the person was resident in the UK, they were not resident at an address but could have made a declaration of local connection in respect of such an address1

If after requiring the applicant to provide documentary evidence, you remain unsatisfied that an applicant was or could have been previously entered in an electoral register via a declaration of local connection  in respect of the relevant address, because either:

  • the applicant has been unable to provide a document from the list of acceptable evidence2 that must be accepted
  • you have received alternative documents that meet the evidential requirement but you remain unsatisfied

you can require the applicant provides either:

  • additional documentary evidence
  • an attestation of local connection made by a qualifying attestor

Additional documentary evidence

This evidence must be either a copy (or original) of any documents which:

  • show the full name of the applicant3
  • confirms that the applicant met the local connection requirement4  

Attestation of local connection

Alternatively, the applicant may supply an attestation of local connection from a qualifying attestor which must:5

  • confirm the basis on which the applicant met the local connection requirement6
  • give an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement7  

The local connection requirement is that the applicant was registered via a declaration of local connection because they were:

  • a person of no fixed abode
  • a patient in a mental health hospital whose stay at the hospital was sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there
  • a remand prisoner whose stay at a penal institution was sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there
  • a looked after child or kept in secure accommodation8  

Attestation of relevant address connection

If you remain unsatisfied after requesting additional evidence or an attestation of local connection from a qualifying attestor, you may require the applicant to make an attestation of relevant address connection.9  

The attestation of relevant address connection must include:

  • confirmation that the applicant met the relevant address connection requirement
  • an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement

The relevant address connection requirement is:10  

  • that the applicant would have been residing at the relevant address if the applicant had not been a patient or detained
  • that the relevant address was, or was nearest to, a place in the UK where the applicant commonly spent a substantial part of their time (whether during the day or at night)

Our guidance on Address attestations has more information on the requirements of an attestation
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Requiring additional documentary evidence from applicants who were previously service voters or non resident merchant seamen

This section applies where an applicant was previously registered via a service declaration1 or was registered on the basis that they were treated as resident at a relevant address (non resident merchant seamen).2

If after requiring the applicant to provide documentary evidence, you remain unsatisfied that an applicant was previously entered in an electoral register in respect of the relevant address, because either:

  • the applicant has been unable to provide a document from the list of acceptable evidence3 that must be accepted
  • you have received alternative documents that meet the evidential requirement but you remain unsatisfied

you can require the applicant provides either:

  • additional documentary evidence
  • an attestation of registration status made by a qualifying attestor 

Additional documentary evidence

This evidence must be either a copy (or original) of any documents which:

  • show the full name of the applicant4
  • can be used to confirm that the applicant met the registration status requirement5

Attestation of registration status

Alternatively the applicant may supply an attestation of registration status from a qualifying elector6 which must include:

  • confirmation of which of the registration status requirements7 the applicant met
  • an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement8  

The registration status requirement is that the applicant had a service qualification because they were:

  • a member of HM forces
  • employed as a Crown servant or a British Council employee

or that the applicant was registered via a declaration of local connection as a merchant seaman. 

Attestation of relevant address connection

If you remain unsatisfied after requesting additional evidence or an attestation of registration status from a qualifying attestor, you may require the applicant to make an attestation of relevant address connection.

The attestation of relevant address connection must include:

  • confirmation that the applicant met the address connection requirement
  • an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement.

The relevant address connection requirement is:

  • they would have been residing in the UK if they had not been serving as a member of the armed forces
  • they would have been residing at the relevant address but for their occupation as a merchant seaman or they commonly stayed at the relevant address which was a hotel or club for merchant seamen during the course of their occupation as a merchant seaman 
Last updated: 13 December 2023

Requiring additional documentary evidence from an applicant who was previously registered as the spouse or civil partner of a service voter

This section applies where an applicant was previously registered via a service declaration as the spouse or civil partner of a service voter.

If after requiring the applicant to provide documentary evidence, you remain unsatisfied that an applicant was previously entered in an electoral register in respect of the relevant address, because either:

  • the applicant has been unable to provide a document from the list of acceptable evidence1 that must be accepted
  • you have received alternative documents that meet the evidential requirement but you remain unsatisfied

you can require the applicant provides either:

  • additional documentary evidence
  • an attestation of registration status made by a qualifying attestor

Additional documentary evidence

This evidence must be either a copy (or original, if appropriate) of any document which:2

  • shows the full name of the applicant3
  • can be used to confirm that the applicant met the registration status requirement4

You may also, in addition to or instead of the documentary evidence or attestation of registration status, require5 the applicant to provide a copy (or original, if appropriate) of a document which confirms:

  • the full current or former name of the service voter and their qualification as a service voter6
  • that the service voter is or was (as the case may be) the spouse, civil partner, parent or guardian of the applicant7  

Attestation of registration status

Alternatively the applicant may supply an attestation of registration status from a qualifying elector8 which must include:

  • which of the registration status requirements9 the applicant met
  • an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement10  

The registration status requirement is that the applicant had a relevant service qualification because their spouse, civil partner, parent or guardian was a member of HM forces.

Attestation of relevant address connection

If you remain unsatisfied after requesting additional evidence or an attestation of registration status from a qualifying attestor, you may require the applicant to make an attestation of relevant address connection which must include:

  • confirmation that the applicant met the relevant address connection requirement
  • an indication of the dates between which, to the best of the qualifying attestor’s knowledge, the applicant met the requirement

The relevant address connection requirement is that they would have been residing in the UK had their spouse, civil partner, parent or guardian not been serving as a member of the armed forces.11   

Last updated: 13 December 2023

What information is required where there is a difference of name provided on an application or documentary evidence?

Where an applicant’s declaration states that their name has changed since they were they previously registered or previously resident, you may require that they provide:

  • appropriate evidence that confirms the difference of name1
  • where an applicant has provided a document as evidence that they meet the previously registered or previously resident condition2 and the name on the evidence is different from the name they provided on their declaration, an explanation as to the difference in name3
  • appropriate evidence that confirms the name change4  

Where an applicant was too young to be registered before they left the UK and have provided a document as evidence5 and their parent or guardian’s name on the document is different from the one stated in the application or declaration, you may require they provide either:

  • an explanation as to the difference in name6
  • a statement that the reason for the difference is not known
     
Last updated: 13 December 2023

Verification of an applicant's identity for an overseas elector application

Any person making a new application to be registered must provide personal identifiers which are used to verify the applicant’s identity against DWP records. 

The verification of identity process is in addition to the verification required as to whether an applicant meets the eligibility conditions as an overseas elector to have been either previously registered or resident at an address in the UK.

The following information contained in the application will be checked against DWP records:

  • Name
  • Previous name (where relevant)
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Postcode of the applicant’s qualifying address

Applicants who are not able to provide their National Insurance number but have provided a reason why they are not able to do so should be contacted and asked to provide documentary evidence1 which verifies their identity. 

Regardless of when an application for registration as an overseas elector is received, you must send the relevant information for verification matching against DWP data and take the results into account when deciding whether to allow the application.2  

If the applicant’s identity cannot be verified using DWP records, their identifiers may also be checked against local data sources.

If you are still unable to verify the applicant’s identity using local data sources, you may choose to:

  • use any documentary evidence provided by the applicant at the time of application to verify their identity
  • request the applicant provides documentary evidence which verifies that they are who they say they are

If you remain unable to verify the applicant’s identity after using the documentary evidence provided, you may require the applicant to provide an identity attestation or, in some rare cases, more than one attestation, or an attestation combined with documentary evidence. For more information see our guidance on the identity attestations process

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Evidence to verify the identity of an applicant for registration as an overseas elector

Documentary evidence can be provided by an applicant at the point of their application or in response to a request from you when you are processing their application.

You may use documentary evidence to verify the identity of an applicant when:

  • their personal identifiers cannot be matched against DWP records or local data sources
  • they cannot supply some or all of the required personal identifiers

Documentary evidence may be uploaded alongside an online application or delivered to your office by hand, by post or as an attachment to an email. Any copies of documents provided by applicants should be stored securely in the same way as application forms. For more information see our guidance on the retention of information submitted with applications.

You should be satisfied that copies provided to you appear to be genuine. Where you have doubt as to whether a document is genuine, you may ask the applicant to provide original documents or alternative documentary evidence. 

Where original documents or alternative documentary evidence is not available, you should direct the applicant to the attestation process or reject the application.

Where documentary evidence does not appear to be genuine, you should advise the applicant of the penalties for supplying false information and inform your police Single Point of Contact (SPOC) where you suspect that false information may have been supplied.

For more information, see our ERO guidance on document authenticity checks.

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Acceptable document types for establishing an applicant’s identity

Evidence required to successfully establish an applicant’s identity should refer to the applicant by name.

The types of documents that can be provided to establish an applicant’s identity for an application as an overseas elector are as follows:

  • any one document from table 1
  • one document from table 2 and two additional documents from either table 2 or table 3
  • four documents from table 3 – all documents in table 3 must have been issued in the UK or a Crown Dependency, and must bear the applicant’s full name1

Table 1: Primary identification documents

DocumentNotes
PassportAny current passport
Biometric residence permit UK issued only
EEA Identity cardMust still be valid
Photo card part of a current driving licenceUK/Isle of Man/Channel Islands (full or provisional)
Northern Ireland Electoral ID card 

         
Table 2: Trusted Government Documents 

DocumentNotes
Old style paper version of a current driving licenceUK only
Photo driving licenceGranted other than UK and Crown Dependencies
Birth certificateUK and Crown Dependencies only
Marriage/Civil Partnership certificateUK and Crown Dependencies only
Adoption certificateUK and Crown Dependencies only
Firearms licenceUK and Crown Dependencies only
Police bail sheetUK and Crown Dependencies only

         
Table 3: Financial and social history documents

Document  Notes
Mortgage statement  Issued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Bank or Building Society statementIssued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Bank or Building Society account opening confirmation letter Issued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Credit card statementIssued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Financial statement, e.g. pension or endowmentIssued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Council tax statementIssued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Utility Bill – not mobile phone billIssued in UK or Crown Dependencies
P45 or P60 statement Issued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Benefit statement, e.g. Child Benefit, Pension Issued in UK or Crown Dependencies
Central or local government, government agency or local council document giving entitlement, e.g. from DWP, Job Centre Plus, HMRCIssued in UK or Crown Dependencies

        
For information on the retention period for documents received as part of an application, including under the exceptions process, and for what should be reflected in your document retention policy, see our guidance on document retention.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Requesting further documentary evidence or an identity attestation where you remain unsatisfied

If you request further documentary evidence from an applicant, you should list the types and quantity of evidence that must be provided. You may also set a deadline date for the applicant to respond. A deadline will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to respond is at your discretion; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to locate and provide the required documents.

If an applicant cannot provide the quantity and types of documentary evidence set out in this guidance to verify their identity, they should be asked to provide an identity attestation.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

How to use the identity attestation process for an overseas electors application

Where an applicant (excluding those previously registered as service voter, merchant seaman or overseas elector) cannot provide documentary evidence of the type and quantity required by the exceptions process to prove: 

  • their connection to an address under the previously registered condition
  • their connection to an address under the previously resident condition
  • their identity1  

you should write to them to communicate the legislative requirements for the appropriate attestation. See our guidance for more information on address attestations

You could either design a form containing the necessary legal statements and requirements for an attestation or set out the detail of the requirements in a letter to the applicant. The AEA have developed a template that you could use. 

If an applicant submits an attestation which contains all the required information for that type of attestation, you should accept it as valid.

You could set a deadline date for the applicant to respond. This will help you if you decide to reject an application because no response has been received. The period of time given to applicants to respond is at your discretion. However, you should allow a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to source and return their attestation.

An attestation may be delivered to your office by hand, by post or by electronic means, such as by email. If the attestation is sent electronically, the signature of the attestor must be a photograph or scanned image of a handwritten wet signature. 
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

The requirements of the identity attestation process for an overseas elector application

Attestation is the final option in the verification of identity process. Applicants can only use attestation to establish their identity once all the other verification stages of DWP matching, local data matching (where appropriate) and the exceptions process have been undertaken and it has not been possible to verify their identity.1   

An identity attestation for an application to register as an overseas elector must:

  • confirm that the applicant is the person named in the application2
  • be in writing and signed by the qualified attestor3
  • state the qualifying attestor’s full name, date of birth, occupation, residential address and (if different) the address at which the qualifying attestor is registered as an elector4   
  • state– 
    • where the qualifying attestor is registered as an overseas elector, the attestor’s British passport number together with its date and place of issue5 or
    • where the qualifying attestor is registered as a domestic or service voter, the attestor’s electoral number6 [or, if the qualifying attestor is registered in Northern Ireland, the applicant’s Digital Registration Number (DRN)]
  • include an explanation that the qualifying attestor is able to confirm the applicant is the person names in the application, including (but not limited to) the qualifying attestor’s connection to the applicant and the length of time that that connection has existed7   
  • include an indication that the qualifying attestor is aware that it is an offence to provide false information to the registration officer8   
  • include a declaration by the qualifying attestor that all information provided in the attestation is true9  
  • state the date on which it is made10   
Last updated: 13 December 2023

Is the identity attestation for an overseas applicant valid and complete?

Is the identity attestation for an overseas applicant valid?

When you receive an identity attestation, you must assess whether it is valid.

You should do this by checking whether it is complete and that the attestor meets the relevant requirements to be a qualified attestor.

Is an identity attestation complete?

Question – does the identity attestation meet the following requirements:1 NotesAnswer
Confirm that the applicant is the person named in the applicationThis would be confirmed by written statement and attestor signing the attestationYes/No
Be in writing and signed by a qualifying attestorThis should be written on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s full nameThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s date of birthThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s occupationThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the qualifying attestor’s residential address and, if different, the address in respect of which the qualifying attestor is registered as an electorThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
If the attestor is an overseas elector, state the qualifying attestor's British or Irish passport number together with its date and place of issueThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
If the attestor is a domestic elector, state the qualifying attestor’s electoral number [or if the qualifying attestor is registered in Northern Ireland, the applicant’s Digital Registration Number (DRN)]This should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
Include an explanation as to the qualifying attestor’s ability to confirm that the applicant is the person named in the application, including (but not limited to) the qualifying attestor’s connection to the applicant and the length of time that that connection has existedThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
Include confirmation that the qualifying attestor is aware of the offence of providing false information to a registration officerThis would be confirmed by written statement and attestor signing the attestationYes/No
Include a declaration by the qualifying attestor that all of the information provided in the attestation is trueThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No
State the date on which it is madeThis should be written or printed on the attestationYes/No

                                   
If the answer to all these questions is yes then the applicant has provided a complete attestation. If one or more of the questions are answered with a no, the attestation is not complete and the applicant must be directed to ask the attestor to supply the missing information.

If an attestor cannot supply the missing information, the applicant should be told that they must seek an attestation from another source, or their application will be rejected. You could set a deadline date for this. This will help you if you decide to reject an application because no response has been received. The period of time given to applicants to respond is at your discretion. However, you should allow a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to source and return their attestation.

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Does the attestor meet the requirements to be a qualifying attestor?

For identity attestations, qualifying attestors must: 

  • confirm they are not the spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the applicant1  
  • not have already signed identity attestations for two other applicants since either the last publication of the revised register or when the attestor was first added to the register, whichever is the most recent2  
  • be aged 18 or over3   
  • be registered as an elector4   

Where an attestor is a domestic elector they must be:

  • a person of good standing in the community5    

You should advise the applicant that an attestor is not permitted to charge for providing an attestation.  

Good standing

There is no precise definition of good standing; however, for the purposes of an attestation, you should consider it to mean someone who has credentials that can be checked and would suffer professional or reputational damage if they were to provide a false attestation. 

The list in the table below is not definitive but is intended to illustrate which professions could be described as of good standing:

Examples of professions which could be described as of good standing
  • accountant
  • airline pilot
  • articled clerk of a limited company
  • assurance agent of recognised company
  • bank/building society official
  • barrister
  • chairman/director of limited company
  • chiropodist
  • commissioner of oaths
  • civil servant (permanent)
  • dentist
  • director/manager of a VAT-registered charity
  • director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  • engineer (with professional qualifications)
  • financial services intermediary (e.g. a stockbroker or insurance broker)
  • fire service official
  • funeral director
  • insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  • journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • legal secretary (fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs)
  • licensee of public house
  • local government officer
  • manager/personnel officer (of a limited company)
  • medical professional member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  • Merchant Navy officer
  • minister of a recognised religion (including Christian Science)
  • nurse (RGN and RMN)
  • officer of the armed services
  • optician
  • paralegal (certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals)
  • person with honours (an OBE or MBE, for example)
  • pharmacist
  • photographer (professional)
  • police officer
  • Post Office official
  • publicly elected representative (MP, Councillor etc)
  • president/secretary of a recognised organisation
  • Salvation Army officer
  • social worker
  • solicitor
  • surveyor
  • teacher, lecturer
  • trade union officer
  • travel agent (qualified)
  • valuer or auctioneer (fellows and associate members of the incorporated society)
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

It is important to note that an unemployed/retired person who is of good standing in the community is not precluded from attesting an application.

You must judge each attestation on its individual merits rather than apply a blanket policy.

Is the attestor registered to vote?

Attestors of an elector’s identity must be registered to vote. If the attestor’s qualifying or registration address is in the same local authority area as the applicant, you should check your electoral register to check that the attestor satisfies this condition.

If the attestor’s qualifying or registration address is not in the same local authority area as the applicant, you should contact the attestor’s ERO to check if the attestor fulfils these conditions.    

Has the attestor already provided identity attestations for two individuals within a prescribed period?

Attestors are limited to signing identity attestations for no more than two individuals, in any one electoral year (normally from 1 December to 30 November), or since their entry was added to the register in that local authority area, whichever is the shortest period.6 You must be satisfied that an attestor has not exceeded the limit.7  

Where the limit has been reached, you should reject the attestation for this reason. This does not prevent the applicant from seeking another attestation from a different elector. You should process attestations in the order they are received.  

If an attestor fulfils all the conditions, the attestation should be accepted, and the attestor’s ERO should record this against the elector’s record. This will then count towards this elector’s total allowable attestations.  

Last updated: 13 December 2023

How long are overseas declarations valid for?

If an individual successfully applies to register as an overseas elector their declaration is valid for up to 3 years. Each declaration will expire on the third 1 November following the date the individual’s entry on the register first takes effect, unless the elector has successfully renewed their declaration. Our guidance on the renewal of overseas declarations has more information on this. 

Registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:

  • cancellation of the declaration by the elector1
  • you determine the person is no longer entitled to be registered2
  • you determine the person was registered, or that their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e., not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)3
  • if another entry is made in respect of the elector in any register of electors4

An overseas voter may cancel their declaration at any time.5 The cancellation of an overseas declaration will also cancel any absent voting arrangement made in connection with that declaration, even if the elector then registers as an ordinary elector at the same qualifying address.

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions.
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Renewal of overseas declarations

A renewal declaration will confirm that the details held on the electoral register are accurate and will also provide an opportunity for overseas electors to provide updated correspondence details.

You are not required to check the identity of an elector making a renewal declaration.

Once an overseas elector is registered, they are unable to make a fresh application, unless their entitlement to register as an overseas elector has expired. If a registered overseas elector makes a fresh application before their registration has expired, you should ask them to instead complete a renewal declaration.

A renewal declaration must be in writing and include:

  • the applicant’s full name
  • the applicant’s date of birth
  • a statement that the applicant is a British citizen
  • a statement that the applicant is not resident in the UK at the date of the declaration
  • a declaration of truth
  • their qualifying (registered) address
  • their current (overseas) address
  • a statement confirming that since they were registered in respect of their qualifying address, no other entry has been made in any electoral register at any address
  • a statement confirming that they are aware that it is an offence to provide false information1
  • the date of the declaration

A declaration received later than three months after it is dated must be rejected.2 The applicant should be informed and invited to submit a fresh declaration.

A renewal may also contain the applicant’s email address and telephone number, but they are not a requirement. A signature is not required.

Electors cannot use the online application service to renew their declaration.

A renewal made by letter, email or paper application form is acceptable. Renewal declaration forms are not prescribed, however they must contain all the required information. Electors are not required to provide a signature for a declaration renewal.

We produce printable renewal declaration forms which you can use. These printable renewal declaration forms are published on our website.

If you receive a written renewal declaration that is not on a renewal declaration form, you should check that it contains all the required information. If it is incomplete, you should contact the elector and request the missing information.

The renewal information can also be provided to you by the applicant over the telephone or in person. In these circumstances you must transfer the information provided to you by the applicant into a renewal declaration in writing.3

The renewal period will begin at the start of the last 6 months of an overseas elector’s existing entitlement.4

As long as a renewal declaration is made within the last 6 months of their existing declaration, an overseas elector’s entitlement can be renewed for another three years.

Existing overseas electors who make an application outside of the renewal period

If an existing overseas elector submits a new application outside of their renewal period, the application must be rejected. However, you should consider the reason why the application has been made - for example has the elector moved or changed their contact information, or do they need to change their absent vote arrangement, and contact them about what they can do to renew their registration. 

The three-year renewal cycle

Overseas electors declarations will expire on the third 1 November following the date when the person's entry on the register first takes effect.5 You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent.

By way of example, if a person is first included on the register on 1 March 2024, their declaration will expire on 1 November 2026. If they renewed within the last 6 months of their declaration expiring on 1 November 2026, it would next expire on 1 November 2029. If, however, they are first included on the register on 1 December 2024, their declaration would expire on 1 November 2027. If they renewed it within the last 6 months of it expiring, their entitlement would next expire on 1 November 2030. This table provides some worked examples:

First included on the registerDeclaration expires Renewal determined  Declaration expires
1 March 20241 November 20261 September 20261 November 2029
1 December 20241 November 20271 September 20271 November 2030
1 January 2025 1 November 20271 September 20271 November 2030

Any renewal declaration must be received by the ERO within 3 months of it being made for it to be valid.6

Overseas electors cannot update or change their name as part of the renewal process. They must use the separate name change process
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Sending renewal reminders to overseas electors

To remain registered, an overseas elector must complete a renewal declaration before their existing registration expires.

You must remind overseas electors of the need to make a renewal declaration1 by sending a notice during the relevant period. The relevant period begins with the 1 July immediately before the third 1 November on which their registration will end, and ends with that 1 November.2 The reminder should explain the requirements of a renewal declaration and include a paper renewal declaration for the overseas elector to complete.

You are required to send a second reminder if they have not responded to the first after a reasonable period of time.3 While a reasonable period of time is not defined in legislation, in our view this should be no longer than 28 days and may in some circumstances be shorter (for example, if an election is due to take place). The full renewal period is 6 months long and will overlap with annual canvass processes, so you should plan when you intend to send your renewal reminders alongside your canvass activity. More information can be found in our guidance on planning for the annual canvass.

You have discretion around how you issue renewal reminders. You could use post, email or other e-communications. 

You are not required to send a reminder where you have already received a renewal declaration4 or you have received information that the person is no longer entitled to make a renewal declaration.5  You are not required to inform an overseas elector that they have been removed from the register if they fail to renew their declaration. 

Sending reminders to anonymous electors who are based overseas 

The registration of an anonymous elector who is based overseas will end on the date which their entitlement to remain registered as an anonymous elector ends.6

If an anonymous elector who is based overseas wishes to remain registered this way, they must complete a fresh application for an anonymous entry on the register7 i.e., their entire registration will come to an end if they have not successfully re-applied to be registered. 

You must send a reminder to anonymous electors based overseas during the reminder period which begins 3 months before and ends 2 months before the date their entitlement to remain registered as an anonymous elector ends.

For example, if entitlement to be registered as an anonymous elector ends on 31 August, the reminder period begins on 31 May and ends on 30 June.

The reminder must explain that:

  • if they wish to remain registered as an anonymous elector based overseas, they must make a fresh application to register8
  • if they wish to remain registered as an overseas elector without an anonymous entry, they must make a fresh registration application and a fresh overseas elector declaration9

You are not required to send a reminder where you have already received a fresh application for an anonymous entry on the register.10

A reminder may be sent to the elector’s address by post, email or other e-communications.11  
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Absent vote arrangements for overseas electors

An overseas elector’s postal voting arrangement is directly linked to their registration and will cease on the third 1 November, calculated from the original date of their addition to the register.

This table provides some worked examples:

Date of addition to the electoral registerDate of expiry of postal vote arrangement
Addition 1 March 20241 November 2026
Addition date before 1 October 20241 November 2026
Addition date before 1 October 20251 November 2027

There may be instances where an overseas elector renews their declaration and postal vote earlier in their renewal period than the 1 November deadline. 

Any postal vote arrangement for an overseas elector will expire when their electoral registration expires, regardless of the date the postal vote application was made. In these cases, the postal vote arrangement may be in effect for longer than the three-year maximum period because the postal vote arrangement is linked to the renewed declaration and will be in place until the expiry of the renewed declaration. This table provides some worked examples:

Date of renewal of overseas declarationDate of expiry of postal vote arrangement
1 September 2024 1 November 2027
1 October 20251 November 2028
31 October 20261 November 2029

For more information, see our guidance on managing the renewal of overseas elector registration.

Absent vote renewals made alongside an overseas elector’s declaration

Overseas electors will be able to reapply or refresh their absent vote arrangements at the same time as renewing their declaration.

You may choose to combine absent vote renewals with declaration renewals, though this is not mandatory as not all overseas electors will have an absent vote arrangement.

If, during the renewal period, a new postal vote application is received separately from a renewal declaration from an overseas elector and a poll is not imminent, you should check to see if the elector has made a renewal declaration. If they have not, you should contact the overseas elector to confirm whether they want to renew their declaration and to prompt them to complete their renewal if they do. If they confirm that they do intend to renew their declaration, you should wait to receive the renewal and process it in advance of the postal vote application, as otherwise their absent vote arrangement would only be valid until their existing overseas elector’s declaration expires.

If you cannot get confirmation from the elector, you should process the postal vote application without the renewal and clarify to the elector that it will only be applicable until the end of the declaration period (i.e., up to the 1 November). If a renewal declaration is subsequently received, the overseas elector would be required to reapply for their postal vote if they wish their arrangement to continue to be in place after that date.

If a poll is called whilst you are waiting for the elector to respond or an election is already imminent, you should process any postal vote application you have received without delay. When you confirm the postal vote application has been processed, you should explain why you have done so and that they will need to complete a fresh application if they wish their postal vote arrangement to continue after their existing declaration expires.

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Absent vote applications made outside of the overseas elector renewal cycle

Where an overseas elector applies for a postal vote after the 31 October 2023 but before the changes to overseas electors are implemented, then the postal vote may only be granted for the remaining length of time of their original 12-month overseas elector registration, calculated from the date they were added to the register. This table provides some worked examples:

Date of addition to the electoral registerPostal vote application dateOverseas declaration expiryPostal vote arrangement expiry
1 June 2023 15 November 2023  1 June 20241 June 2024
1 July 2023 12 February 20241 July 20241 July 2024
1 March 20241 August 20241 November 20261 November 2026

Where an overseas elector’s existing declaration does not expire until after the 31 October 2023, but they have a proxy vote arrangement in place prior to this date their proxy arrangement will expire on 31 January 2024, not with their existing overseas elector declaration. At this point the signature requires refreshing, and both their overseas elector declaration renewal and the renewal of their proxy arrangement will be in line on a three-year cycle.

However, where an overseas elector on the existing 12-month declaration cycle submits a new proxy application within three months of the expiry of their declaration (and subsequently renews their declaration as an overseas elector), the proxy arrangement would not expire alongside their existing declaration but would instead be carried forward until the expiry of their new declaration i.e., the third 1 November after the date of the overseas declaration. 

Any overseas elector who applies for a proxy vote after 31 January 2024 will be required to refresh their signature refresh at the same time as the expiry of their overseas declaration, regardless of whether their declaration is under the 12-month or three-year cycles. This table provides some worked examples:

Date of addition to the electoral registerProxy application dateOverseas declaration expiryProxy declaration expiry
1 July 2023  10 July 2023 1 July 2024Signature refresh required before 31 January 2024; if the signature refresh is completed, the proxy arrangement would continue until 1 July 2024
1 July 20231 February 20241 July 2024 1 July 2024
1 February 202320 December 20231 February 20241 November 2026

You can find more information in our guidance on the absent vote renewal process
 

Last updated: 13 December 2023

Confirming applications and declarations

Application confirmations

If you have determined that an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them that their registration application has been successful.1 You can deliver the confirmation to the applicant by post or by email.2  

You should also include, alongside the confirmation, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place, you should make clear what their absent voting options are and how to make an application. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.3

Renewal confirmations 

You must inform the elector of the outcome of a submitted renewal declaration.4 You may decide to communicate this by sending a confirmation letter, but this is not mandatory. You could also confirm that renewal has been successful by email.  

This communication could also include information on when their declaration will expire, how and when they will next be reminded to renew it, what absent voting arrangements they have in place and, if they have none, information on absent voting options.

You should make the elector aware of the general timings for dispatching postal votes ahead of an election and could advise the elector to appoint a proxy as an alternative if it is not realistic for their postal ballot pack to be dispatched, completed, and returned before the close of poll. It is, of course, the elector’s choice as to which method of voting they prefer, but it is important that they can make an informed decision.

The form and format of the confirmation will be at the discretion of the ERO. 
 

Last updated: 14 May 2024

Annual check-ins with overseas electors

You may choose to conduct an annual check-in during year one and year two of the overseas electors’ registration period to ensure that their contact details remain correct.

Providing them with such an opportunity to update their contact details, can help to mitigate against the risk that you may not be able to contact the electors if an election is called.

If as part of this check in process, an overseas elector indicates to you that their correspondence address has changed you may update the overseas electors list to reflect the change. You are not required to publish a notice of alteration if you update the overseas electors list based on a change to an elector’s correspondence address.

If as part of this check in process, an overseas elector indicates to you that their name has changed, you should advise them to complete a change of name request form and provide documentary evidence if required.  Our guidance on Processing a change to an elector’s name | Electoral Commission has more information.

If the elector has an absent vote arrangement, you should make them aware that they will also need to update the details on their absent vote record and advise them on how they can do this.
 

Last updated: 26 February 2024

How should overseas electors be listed in the register?

Overseas electors should be listed as other electors at the end of each relevant part of the register and entries must be shown without an address. They must be grouped in alphabetical order together with any service voters and persons registered by a declaration of local connection. All overseas electors must have the letter F prefixed before their name. 

You must prepare and maintain a separate list of the names of overseas electors. The names must be listed in alphabetical order.1

The list must include the elector’s qualifying address and their present address.2

For anonymous overseas electors the list must only contain their elector number3 and the date on which their entitlement to remain registered anonymously ends.4  The elector numbers of anonymous overseas electors must be printed after the alphabetical list of names of ordinary overseas electors. 

The list of overseas electors must be made available for inspection (under supervision) at the same time as a revised version of the register is published.5
 

Last updated: 19 April 2024

HM forces service voters

HM forces service voters

A member of HM forces and their spouse or civil partner may register as a service voter, although they may choose in certain circumstances to make a registration application as an ordinary elector instead.1
 
A member of HM forces is a person serving on full pay the naval, military or air forces of the Crown raised in the UK. 

A person who is under 18 years old and living with a parent or guardian who is a service voter is also eligible to register as a service voter at local government and Senedd elections.2  They must be living in Wales or would be living in Wales if their parent or guardian were not based overseas.

The following do not qualify as an HM forces service voter:3  

  • persons serving only as a member of a reserve or auxiliary force (except those serving during a period of emergency)
  • members of the regular army required, by the terms of their service, to serve in Northern Ireland only

When a person is not qualified to be a service voter for one of the reasons listed above, and is away from a UK address at which they have been residing, they can still be deemed to be resident there. They may therefore be registered as an ordinary elector if outside the UK on duty.4

Service Unit Registration Officers

Each unit has designated one member of staff to be a Unit Registration Officer (URO) and each base commander has been asked to give assistance to the URO and other personnel in their unit to promote participation in the electoral process. A Unit could be a base, ship, depot, barracks etc. 

The responsibilities of the URO include providing information to service personnel and their families and acting as a liaison between the unit and local EROs.

Where you have any military establishments in your area you should make contact with the UROs. If any problems occur with the registration of service personnel you should raise these issues with the URO of the unit in the first instance. It should now be possible for you to contact a URO in any location, including overseas. To ascertain who the URO is for any particular unit, the Ministry of Defence recommends contacting the unit directly, initially through directory enquiries, and then asking for information about the URO from:

  • Royal Navy – First Lieutenant’s office
  • Army – Adjutant’s office
  • RAF – OC PSF (Officer Commanding Personnel Services Flight)

Registration of HM forces service voters who are qualifying Commonwealth citizens

A service declaration must state the address where the applicant is living in the UK or, if they are living abroad because of their service, where they would have been living in the UK but for their service abroad. If they cannot give such an address, they must give an address at which they have lived in the UK.5  

Qualifying Commonwealth citizens, who have been recruited to the services in their country of origin or outside the UK without previously being resident in the UK, but who receive their training in the UK and are then immediately posted overseas may register at: 

  • the address of the barracks where they were enlisted and/or did their training
  • a barracks where they were or would be resident if they were not posted abroad
  • their regimental headquarters where they may have been resident
  • an address in the UK where they would be resident were they no longer in the forces or not required to be resident in barracks, such as a relative’s address
     
Last updated: 26 May 2021

How to make a new application to register as a HM forces service voter

Individuals can make a new application to register as a HM forces service voter: 

  • online via the central government website - www.gov.uk/register-to-vote 
  • by providing the necessary information in writing (e.g. on a paper form)
  • by telephone (if you offer the service)

Online applications

The online application portal is hosted on GOV.UK. If you have an email address for a potential elector you could, in the first instance, use it to encourage them to submit an online application or issue an application by electronic means.

Existing HM forces service voters who are renewing their registration can only do so using a paper renewal form which may be sent by post or by email. Our guidance on the renewals process has more information on this.

Paper applications

We produce printable HM forces service voter application forms which you can use. They are published on our website and GOV.UK. We also provide versions of the forms in a range of accessible formats such as large print and easy read. 

Telephone applications

For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer this service wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act 2010, as people who may have difficulties completing the paper or online form will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone registration for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist applicants with disabilities in order to meet equalities obligations.

Last updated: 12 December 2023

What must be included in an application from a member of HM forces?

What must be included in an application from a member of HM forces?

An application to register as an HM forces service voter must contain all of the following:1

  • the applicant’s full name
  • their correspondence address or British Forces Post Office (BFPO) number
  • any address where the applicant has ceased to reside in the 12 months prior to the date of the application and, where that address is not in the UK, an indication of whether registered as an overseas elector during this period
  • an indication of whether the applicant is resident at any other address, including any address where the applicant is currently registered and claims to be entitled to remain registered
  • the applicant’s date of birth or, if unable to provide this information, the reason why they are unable to do so and a statement as to whether as to whether the applicant is under the age of 16, aged 16 or 17 or aged 18 or older, or aged 76 or over2
  • the applicant’s National Insurance number or, if they are not able to provide this, the reason they are not able to do so. This does not apply where the applicant is under 16 years old
  • the applicant’s nationality or nationalities or, if they are not able to provide this information, the reason they are not able to do so
  • an indication of whether their name should be omitted from the edited register. The details of any person under 16 years old must not be included in any version of the published register, including the edited register
  • a declaration that the contents of the application are true
  • the date of the application
  • the appropriate declaration  

The application form must also provide space for their most recent previous name3 (if they have one) and an explanation that providing this information is not mandatory but may help in verifying their identity and that if it is not provided, additional personal information may be required.

An HM forces service declaration must state:4  

  • the date of declaration 
  • the applicant’s full name and address
  • that on that date the applicant is, or but for the circumstances entitling that person to make the declaration would have been, residing in the UK. In relation to an application from a person under 18 years old who is living with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM forces, the address the person is or would have been residing in, or at which they have resided, must be an address in Wales
  • the address where the applicant is, or would have been residing in the UK, or if they cannot give any such address, an address at which they have resided in the UK. In relation to an application from a person under 18 years old who is living with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM forces, the address the person is or would have been residing in, or at which they have resided, must be an address in Wales
  • that on the date of the declaration the applicant is a qualifying foreign citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of a member state of the European Union
  • whether the applicant had on the date of the declaration attained the age of 18 years and, if they had not, their date of birth
  • the grounds on which a service qualification is claimed
  • information relating to the service in which they or the person entitling them to make the application serve (whether naval, military or air forces), their rank and service number  
Last updated: 5 July 2022

How should an application from a member of HM forces be processed?

How should an application from a member of HM forces be processed?

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement if you wish. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

All applications and declarations should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt.

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area you should forward it to the relevant ERO without delay.

Members of the armed forces whose personal identifiers fail the DWP match must provide an attestation as to their identity

You must write to the applicant informing them that it has not been possible to verify their identity and ask them to supply an attestation.
 
You may wish to create a form which contains the necessary legal statements and requirements for the attestation. Alternatively, you may wish to set this detail out in the letter to the applicant. In all cases, you must communicate the legislative requirements for an attestation.1
 
The attestation must:

  • be in writing
  • confirm that the applicant is the person stated in the service voter’s application
  • be signed by an officer of the armed forces who is not the spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the applicant
  • state the full name, address and rank of the person signing the attestation and the service (whether naval, military or air forces) in which the attestor serves
  • state the date on which it is made

Persons attesting armed forces applications do not have to be registered to vote and may attest an unlimited number of applications.

You may wish to set a deadline date for the applicant to respond; this will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to applicants to respond is at the discretion of the ERO; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to source and return their attestation, bearing in mind that armed forces electors may be deployed to overseas locations.

Spouses or civil partners of members of the armed forces whose personal identifiers fail the DWP match must provide documentary evidence in support of their application

You must write to the applicant informing them that it has not been possible to verify their identity and asking them to supply documentary evidence. This must be a copy of the information / photograph page of their passport or both sides of their EEA identity card, certified by an officer of the armed forces who is not the applicant’s spouse or civil partner.
 
You may wish to set a deadline date for the applicant to respond; this will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to applicants to respond is at the discretion of the ERO; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to source and return their attestation, bearing in mind that armed forces electors may be deployed to overseas locations.  

Children of members of the armed forces whose personal identifiers fail the DWP match must provide documentary evidence in support of their application

Where an application as a service voter is made by a person under 18 years old for the purpose of registering in the local government register, and that person's identity cannot be verified by education records or other local data, you should ask them to supply a copy of the information / photograph page or both sides of their EEA identity card, certified by an officer of HM Forces who is not the applicant's parent, guardian, spouse or civil partner.

Confirming applications and declarations

If you have determined an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them in writing that their registration application has been successful.2
 
You should also include alongside the confirmation letter, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place you should make clear what the absent voting options are. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.3  

Where an existing HM forces elector has successfully renewed their declaration, there is no requirement to send them a confirmation notice. You may, however, still decide to confirm their renewal has been successful, which you could do by e-mail. This communication could also include information on when their declaration will expire, how and when they will next be reminded to renew it, what absent voting arrangements they have in place and, if they have none, information on absent voting options.

You should make the elector aware of the general timings for dispatching postal votes ahead of an election and could advise the elector to appoint a proxy as an alternative if it is not realistic for their postal ballot pack to be dispatched, completed and returned before the close of poll. It is, of course, the elector’s choice as to which method of voting they prefer, but it is important that they can make an informed decision. Further information can be found in our guidance on absent voting
 

Last updated: 28 November 2023

How should HM forces service voters be listed in the register? 

How should HM forces service voters be listed in the register?

Service voters either living at their qualifying address, or who would be living there were it not for the fact that they were stationed elsewhere because of their employment in the services, must be shown in the main body of the register, in the same way as ordinary electors.
 
HM forces service voters should only be listed as other electors when they no longer have a connection to their qualifying address other than the fact that they once lived there.1  

Their names are to be listed in alphabetical order at the end of the relevant polling district beneath the other electors heading. The entry will show their name and elector number but not their address.2  

As set out in eligibility to register, the parliamentary and local government registers are combined. The combined register will need to make clear the date on which those who are included on it that are under 18 years of age will become 18 years old in order to clearly show their eligibility to vote in different elections.

No information on those who are under 16 must be included on any version of the register published or otherwise made available, except in very limited circumstances. For further information see our guidance on access and supply.

The entry in the combined registers of any person who is registered only as a local government elector by virtue of being a qualifying foreign citizen must give an indication of that fact.3

Last updated: 5 July 2022

How long are service declarations valid for?

How long are service declarations valid for?

A service declaration for members of HM forces or their spouse or civil partner is valid for five years.1 Registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:2  

  • cancellation by the elector 
  • you determine the person is not entitled to be registered
  • you determine the person was registered, or their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e. not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)
  • if another entry is made in respect of the elector in any register of electors 

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions.
 
A service declaration received later than three months after it is dated must be rejected.3 The applicant should be informed and invited to submit a fresh declaration.

A service voter may cancel their declaration at any time.4 The cancellation of a service declaration will cancel any absent voting arrangement made in connection with that declaration even if the elector registers as an ordinary elector at the same qualifying address.

Service voters under 18

A person who is under 18 years old who is registered as a service voter because they live with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM forces must renew their registration every year.5

They will cease to be registered as a service voter when they are 18 years old. Our guidance on renewal of service declarations covers the renewal process for those under 18.

Last updated: 26 May 2021

Renewal of service declarations

Renewal of service declarations

A person registered as an HM forces service voter is entitled to remain registered, provided the elector continues to satisfy the other conditions for registration, until the end of the five year period beginning with the date when the entry first takes effect. You should make contact with the HM forces service voter during this five year period to ensure that their registration and voting arrangements remain current.

You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent. 

You must remind every service voter of the need to make a fresh declaration if they wish to remain registered.1 The reminder must be sent between 57 and 58 months after the date when the service entry first takes effect2 and should include a new declaration for the service voter to complete. If you do not receive a fresh declaration, you are required to send a second reminder not less than 21 days and not more than 28 days after sending the first reminder.3  

Reminders must not be sent where you have received information that the person is no longer entitled to make the relevant declaration or no longer wishes to be registered as a service voter.4
 
Where a declaration is not renewed within the five year period and the person is removed from the register, they will also lose any absent voting arrangement they had in place.  

Further information about notifying electors of loss of entitlement to absent voting arrangements can be found in our guidance on absent voting.

Service voters aged under 18

A person who is under 18 years old who is registered as a service voter because they live with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM forces must renew their registration every year.5 

You should send a reminder of the need to make a fresh declaration if they wish to remain registered as a service voter, and include a declaration for them to complete. The reminder should be sent between 9 and 10 months after the date when the entry first takes effect. You should send a second reminder to let them know that their declaration is about to expire if they have not responded to the first reminder. The second reminder should be sent not less than 21 days and not more than 28 days after sending the first reminder. You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent.

Furthermore, they will cease to be registered as a service voter when they are 18 years old. You must issue a reminder to the elector stating that their registration will cease when they are 18 years old, and this reminder must be issued within the period of three months ending when the person attains the age of 18. They will need to make a new application to register reflecting their circumstances at that time.

Last updated: 28 November 2023

Crown servants and British Council employee service voters

Crown servants and British Council employee service voters

Crown servants and British Council employees abroad and their spouse or civil partner accompanying them can be registered at any time as service voters1 – although they may choose in certain circumstances to make a registration application as an ordinary elector instead. 

A Crown Servant is a person employed in the service of the Crown in a post outside the UK. They are required to devote the whole of their working time to the duties of that post, and their remuneration is paid wholly out of money provided by Parliament.2

However, spouses and civil partners who are themselves in the UK do not qualify for this type of registration.3  

A person who is under 18 years old and living with a parent or guardian who is a Crown servant or British Council employee serving abroad is also eligible to register as service voter provided they would be living in Wales if their parent or guardian were not based overseas.4

Last updated: 9 May 2023

How to make a new application to register as a Crown Servant or British Council employee service voter

Individuals can make a new application to register as a Crown Servant or British Council employee: 

  • online via the central government website - www.gov.uk/register-to-vote 
  • by providing the necessary information in writing (e.g. on a paper form)
  • by telephone (if you offer the service)

Online applications

The online application portal is hosted on GOV.UK. If you have an email address for a potential elector you could, in the first instance, use it to encourage them to submit an online application or issue an application by electronic means.

Existing Crown Servant or British Council employee service voters who are renewing their registration can only do so using a paper renewal form which may be sent by post or by email. Our guidance on the renewals process has more information on this.

Paper applications

We produce printable Crown Servant and British Council employee service voter application forms which you can use. They are published on our website and GOV.UK. We also provide versions of the forms in a range of accessible formats such as large print and easy read. 

Telephone applications

For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer this service wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act 2010, as people who may have difficulties completing the paper or online form will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone registration for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist applicants with disabilities in order to meet equalities obligations.

Last updated: 12 December 2023

What must be included in an application from a Crown servant or British Council employee? 

What must be included in an application from a Crown servant or British Council employee?

An application to register as a service voter must contain all of the following:1  

  • the applicant’s full name
  • their correspondence address
  • any address where the applicant has ceased to reside in the 12 months prior to the date of the application and, where that is not in the UK, an indication of whether that person was registered as an overseas elector during this period
  • an indication of whether the applicant is resident at any other address, including any address where the applicant is currently registered and claims to be entitled to remain registered
  • the applicant’s date of birth or, or where the applicant is not able to provide their date of birth, they must give the reason why they are unable to do so and give a statement as to whether the applicant is under the age of 16, 16 or 17 or aged 18 or older2 or aged 76 or over
  • the applicant’s National Insurance number or, if they are not able to provide this, the reason they are not able to do so. This does not apply where the applicant is under 16 years old
  • the applicant’s nationality or nationalities or, if they are not able to provide this information, the reason they are not able to do so 
  • an indication of whether their name should be omitted from the edited register. A person under 16 years old is automatically opted out of the edited register. The details of any person under 16 years old must not be included in any version of the published register, including the edited register
  • a declaration that the contents of the application are true
  • the date of the application
  • the appropriate declaration

The application form must also provide space for their most recent previous name3 (if they have one) and an explanation that providing this information is not mandatory but may help in verifying their identity and that if it is not provided, additional personal information may be required.

Their service declaration must state:4  

  • the date of declaration 
  • the applicant’s full name and address
  • that on that date the applicant is, or but for the circumstances entitling that person to make the declaration would have been, residing in the UK. In relation to an application from a person under 18 years old who is living with a parent or guardian who is a Crown Servant or British Council employee serving abroad, the address the person would have been residing in, must be an address in Wales
  • the address where the applicant is, or, would have been residing in the UK, or if they cannot give such an address, an address at which they have resided in the UK. In relation to an application from a person under 18 years old who is living with a parent or guardian who is a Crown Servant or British Council employee serving abroad, the address the person would have been residing in, must be an address in Wales
  • that on the date of the declaration the applicant is a qualifying foreign citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of a member state of the European Union
  • whether the applicant had on the date of the declaration attained the age of 18 years and, if they had not, their date of birth
  • the grounds on which a service qualification is claimed
  • information relating to their job (or the person’s job who entitles them to make the application)must be declared as shown in the table below:
Crown Servant British Council employee
  • the name of the government department they work for
  • their post / position
  • their position / post
  • their staff, payroll or other identifying number
  • their staff, payroll or other identifying number
  • n/a

The declaration made by Crown servants and British Council employees does not need to be sent via their employer, which means that Crown servant and British Council employees can complete the registration process online.5

Last updated: 9 May 2023

How should an application and declaration from a Crown servant or British Council employee be processed?

How should an application and declaration from a Crown servant or British Council employee be processed?

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

All applications and declarations should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt. 

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area it should be forwarded to the relevant ERO without delay.

Potential Crown servants, British Council employees or their spouses or civil partners who fail the DWP match must provide documentary evidence in support of their application.  

You must write to the applicant informing them that it has not been possible to verify their identity and asking them to supply documentary evidence. This must be a copy of the information / photograph page of their passport or both sides of their EEA identity card, certified by a Crown servant or British Council employee who is not the applicant’s spouse or civil partner. 

Where an application as a service voter is made by a person under 18 years old for the purpose of registering in the local government register, and that person's identity cannot be verified by education records or other local data, you should ask them to supply a copy of the information / photograph page of their passport or both sides of their EEA identity card, certified by a Crown servant or British Council employee who is not the applicant's parent, guardian, spouse or civil partner.

You may wish to set a deadline date for the applicant to respond; this will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to applicants to respond is at the discretion of the ERO; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to source and return their attestation, bearing in mind that some electors may be deployed to overseas locations.

Declaration requirements

The declaration must contain all the required information for it to be considered duly made.1

If the declaration does not meet with the requirement, you shall return the declaration to the applicant and explain what information is missing.2

Confirming applications and declarations

If you have determined that an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them in writing that their registration application has been successful.3   

You should also include, alongside the confirmation letter, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place you should make clear what the options are. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.

Where an existing service voter has successfully renewed their declaration, there is no requirement to send a confirmation notice. You may, however, still decide to send them further information confirming that their renewal has been successful, which you could do by e-mail. This communication could also include information on when their declaration will expire, how and when they will next be reminded to renew it, what absent voting arrangements they have in place and, if they have none, information on absent voting options.

You should also make the elector aware of the general timings for dispatching postal votes ahead of an election and could advise the elector to appoint a proxy as an alternative if it is not realistic for their postal ballot pack to be dispatched, completed and returned before the close of poll. It is, of course, the elector’s choice as to which method of voting they prefer, but it is important that electors can make an informed decision. Further information can be found in our guidance on absent voting.

Last updated: 28 November 2023

How should Crown servants and British Council employee service voters be listed in the register?

How should Crown servants and British Council employee service voters be listed in the register?

Service voters either living at their qualifying address, or who would be living there were it not for the fact that they were stationed elsewhere because of their employment, must be shown in the main body of the register, in the same way as ordinary electors. 

Crown servant and British Council employee service voters should only be listed as other electors when they no longer have a connection to their qualifying address other than the fact that they once lived there.1   

If this is the case then their names are to be listed in alphabetical order at the end of the relevant polling district of the register beneath the other electors heading. The entry will show their name and elector number but not their address.2

As set out in eligibility to register, the parliamentary and local government registers are combined. The combined register will need to make clear the date on which those included on it that are under 18 years of age will become 18 years old in order to clearly show their eligibility to vote in different elections.

No information on those aged under 16 must be included on any version of the register published or otherwise made available, except in very limited circumstances. For further information, see our guidance on access and supply.

The entry in the combined registers of any person who is registered only as a local government elector by virtue of being a qualifying foreign citizen must give an indication of that fact.

Last updated: 26 May 2021

How long are service declarations for Crown servants and British Council employees valid for?

How long are service declarations for Crown servants and British Council employees valid for?

A service declaration for Crown servants, British Council employees, or their spouse or civil partner is valid for 12 months.1 Registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:2  

  • cancellation by the elector 
  • you determine the person is not entitled to be registered
  • you determine the person was registered, or that their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e. not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)
  • if another entry is made in respect of the elector in any register of electors 

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions.

A declaration received later than three months after it is dated must be rejected.3 The applicant should be informed and invited to submit a fresh declaration.

A service voter may cancel their declaration at any time.4 The cancellation of a service declaration will cancel any absent voting arrangement made in connection with that declaration even if the elector registers as an ordinary elector at the same qualifying address. 

Service voters aged under 18

A person who is under 18 years old who is registered as a service voter because they live with a parent or guardian who is a Crown servant or British Council employee serving abroad must renew their registration every year.5
 
They will cease to be registered as a service voter when they are 18 years old. Our guidance on renewal of service declarations covers the renewal process for those aged under 18.

Last updated: 26 May 2021

Renewal of Crown servant and British Council employee service declarations

Renewal of Crown servant and British Council employee service declarations

A Crown servant or British Council employee is entitled to remain registered provided the elector continues to satisfy the other conditions for registration during this period until the end of the 12 month period beginning with the date when their entry first takes effect. 

You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent.
 
You must remind every service voter of the need to make a fresh declaration to remain registered as a service voter.1 The reminder must be sent between 9 and 10 months after the date when the service entry first takes effect2 and should include a declaration for the service voter to complete.

If you do not receive a fresh declaration, you are required to send a second reminder not less than 21 days and not more than 28 days after sending the first reminder.3  

Reminders must not be sent where you have received information that the person is no longer entitled to make the relevant declaration or no longer wishes to be registered as a service voter.4
 
Where a declaration is not renewed within the 12 month period and the person is removed from the register, they will also lose any voting arrangement they had in place.

Further information about notifying electors of loss of entitlement to absent voting arrangements can be found in our guidance on absent voting.

Service voters aged under 18

A person who is under 18 years old who is registered as a service voter because they live with a parent or guardian who is a Crown servant or British Council employee serving abroad, must renew their registration every year.5

You should send a reminder of the need to make a fresh declaration if they wish to remain registered as a service voter, and include a declaration for them to complete. The reminder should be sent between 9 and 10 months after the date when the entry first takes effect. You are should send a second reminder to let them know that their declaration is about to expire if they have not responded to the first reminder. This second reminder should be sent not less than 21 days and not more than 28 days after sending the first reminder. You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent.

Furthermore, they will cease to be registered as a service voter when they are 18 years old. You must issue a reminder to the elector stating that their registration will cease when they are 18 years old, and this reminder must be issued within the period of three months ending when the person attains the age of 18. They will need to make a new application to register reflecting their circumstances at that time.

Last updated: 28 November 2023

Declarations of local connection

Declarations of local connection

A person who does not have a fixed or permanent address may register at the place where they spend most of their time, or to which they have a local connection,1 by making a declaration of local connection.

Our guidance on eligibility to register sets out in detail who can make a declaration of local connection.

There is an additional ground to make a declaration of local connection for those under 16 years old if they are, or have been, looked after children or are currently being kept in secure accommodation.2 Local authorities in Wales will have a duty to promote awareness of how to register as local government electors for children that are “looked after” and to provide assistance to help such young people to register.3 For further information about this duty, see can someone register to vote without a fixed address?

Last updated: 26 May 2021

How to make a new application to register with a Declaration of local connection

Individuals can make a new application to register with a declaration of local connection either: 

  •  by providing the necessary information in writing (e.g. on a paper form)
  •  by telephone (if you offer the service)

Paper applications

We produce printable declaration of local connection application forms which you can use. They are published on our website and GOV.UK. We also provide versions of the forms in a range of accessible formats such as large print and easy read. 

Telephone applications

For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer this service wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act 2010, as people who may have difficulties completing the paper or online form will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone registration for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist applicants with disabilities in order to meet equalities obligations.
 

Last updated: 12 December 2023

What must be included in an application made by a declaration of local connection? 

What must be included in an application made by a declaration of local connection? 

An application to register by making a declaration of local connection must include all of the following:1  

  • the applicant’s full name
  • the address in respect of which the applicant applies to be registered
  • any address where the applicant has ceased to reside in the 12 months prior to the date of the application and, where that address is not in the UK, an indication of whether that person was registered as an overseas elector during this period.
  • an indication of whether the applicant is resident at any other address, including any address where the applicant is currently registered and claims to be entitled to remain registered
  • the applicant’s date of birth or, if unable to provide this information, the reason why they are not able to do so and a statement as to whether the applicant is under the age of 16, aged 16 or 17 or aged 18 or older2 or aged 76 or over
  • the applicant’s National Insurance number or, if they are they are not able to provide this, the reason they are not able to do so. This does not apply where the applicant is under 16 years old
  • the applicant’s nationality or nationalities or, if they are not able to provide this information, the reason they are not able to do so
  • an indication of whether the applicant requests their name to be omitted from the edited register. A person under 16 years old is automatically opted out of the edited register. The details of any person under 16 years old must not be included in any version of the published register, including the edited register
  • a declaration that the contents of the application are true
  • the date of the application
  • the appropriate declaration

The application form must also provide space for their most recent previous name3 (if they have one) and an explanation that providing this information is not mandatory but may help in verifying their identity and that if it is not provided, additional personal information may be required.

A declaration of local connection must be signed and dated by the applicant and state:4  

  • the applicant’s full name
  • the address to which correspondence can be delivered or a statement confirming that they are willing to collect correspondence from the ERO
  • the category in which their declaration falls, e.g. mental health patient, remand prisoner or person of no fixed address
  • in the case of a person of no fixed address, the address of, or near, a place where they commonly spend a substantial part of their time
  • in the case of a prisoner on remand, the name and address of the place where they are detained, as well as the address at which they would be residing if they were not detained. If they are unable to give such an address, an address at which they have previously resided
  • in the case of a mental health patient, the name and address of the mental health hospital, as well as the address at which they would be residing if they were not a patient. If they are unable to give such an address, an address at which they have previously resided
  • in the case of a person under 16 years old who is or has been a child looked after by a local authority or is being kept in secure accommodation, an address in Wales at which they have previously resided5
  • that they have attained 18 years of age or, if not, their date of birth.
  • that they are a qualifying foreign citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of a European Union member state

Where a declaration of connection is made by a person under 18 years old for the purposes of registering in the local government register, the address given where they would be living if it were not for their current situation, or where they have lived in the past or spend a substantial amount of time, must be an address in Wales.6

At a by-election to the UK Parliament or Senedd, any declaration of local connection made by a homeless person received during the period from the date of the vacancy to the close of nominations must include a statement that the applicant has spent a substantial part of time during the past three months at or near to the address at which they claim to be entitled to be registered.7  

If a person makes a declaration of local connection stating more than one address, or makes more than one declaration on the same date and stating different addresses, the declaration or declarations will be void.8  

Last updated: 5 July 2022

How should applications made by a declaration of local connection be processed? 

How should applications made by a declaration of local connection be processed?

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

All applications and declarations should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt.
 
If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area it should be forwarded to the relevant ERO without delay.

Any applicant who fails the DWP match must provide documentary evidence, or if they cannot provide documentary evidence, an attestation in the same way as people applying to register as an ordinary elector. See our guidance on verification, exceptions and attestations.

All correspondence between you and applicants may be sent electronically. In addition, it is permissible for applicants to provide attestations or documentary evidence by electronic means such as a fax or scanned image.

Where an application through a declaration of local connection is made by a person under 18 years old for the purpose of registering in the local government register, and that person’s identity cannot be verified by education records or other local data, you should ask them provide documentary evidence, or if they cannot do so an attestation in the same way as people applying to register as an ordinary elector.

Confirming applications and declarations 

If you have determined that an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them in writing that their registration application has been successful.1
 
You should also include, alongside the confirmation letter, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place you should make clear what the absent voting options are. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.

Where a person who is registered through a declaration of local connection has successfully renewed their declaration, there is no requirement to send them a confirmation notice. You may, however, still decide to send them further information confirming that their renewal has been successful, which you could do by e-mail. This communication could also include information on when their declaration will expire, how and when they will next be reminded to renew it, what absent voting arrangements they have in place and, if they have none, information on absent voting options.

Last updated: 13 December 2023

How should electors registered by making a declaration of local connection be listed in the register?

How should electors registered by making a declaration of local connection be listed in the register?

All persons registered through a declaration of local connection must be included at the end of each relevant part of the register under the heading ‘other electors’ without an address. Their names are to be included in alphabetical order, grouped together with any service voters and overseas electors, but before any anonymously registered electors.1  

As set out in our guidance on eligibility to register, the parliamentary and local government registers are combined. The combined register will need to make clear the date on which those included on it that are under 18 years of age will become 18 years old in order to clearly show their eligibility to vote in different elections. 

No information on those aged under 16 must be included on any version of the register published or otherwise made available, except in very limited circumstances. For further information, see our guidance on access and supply.

The entry in the combined registers of any person who is registered only as a local government elector by virtue of being a qualifying foreign citizen must give an indication of that fact.

Last updated: 5 July 2022

How long are declarations of local connection valid for?

How long are declarations of local connection valid for?

A declaration of local connection is valid for 12 months from the date when the entry on the register first takes effect.1 Registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:2  

  • cancellation by the elector 
  • you determine the person is not entitled to be registered
  • you determine the person was registered, or that their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e. not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)
  • if another entry is made in respect of the elector in any register of electors 

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions.

A declaration received later than three months after it is dated must be rejected.3 The applicant should be informed and invited to submit a fresh declaration.

Last updated: 15 October 2020

Renewal of declarations of local connection

Renewal of declarations of local connection

A person registered through a declaration of local connection is entitled to remain registered until the end of the 12 month period beginning with the date when the entry first takes effect, provided the other conditions for registration remain satisfied.

You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent. You must remind the elector of the need to make a fresh declaration if they wish to remain registered.1 The reminder must be sent between 9 and 10 months after the date when the entry first takes effect2 and should include a declaration for the elector to complete. If you do not receive a fresh declaration, you are required to send a second reminder not less than 21 days and not more than 28 days after sending the first reminder.3  

Reminders must not be sent where you have received information that the person is no longer entitled to make the relevant declaration.4
 
Where a declaration is not renewed within the 12 month period and the person is removed from the register, they will also lose any absent voting arrangement they had in place.

Further information about notifying electors of loss of entitlement to absent voting arrangements can be found in our guidance on absent voting.

You should consider the most appropriate method of obtaining a renewal from those who have registered through a declaration of local connection. It may be appropriate, in addition to simply sending a renewal notice by post, to make a personal visit to ensure the reminder and declaration reaches the elector.
 

Last updated: 28 November 2023

Prisoners and detained mental health patients

Prisoners and detained mental health patients

Some remand prisoners or detained mental health patients may remain registered as ordinary electors if their absence from their home address is limited.

Longer term remand prisoners or mental health patients may register through a declaration of local connection, at an address where they would be living, if it were not for their circumstances, or where they used to live before becoming a remand prisoner or mental health patient.1
 
Some remand prisoners or mental health patients will qualify to register at a place of custody or hospital address, if their length of stay is sufficient.2

Our guidance on eligibility to register sets out the options that prisoners and patients in mental health hospitals have for registering.
 

Last updated: 27 July 2020

Who may apply and how should applications be processed?

Who may apply and how should applications be processed?

Prisoners on remand and patients in mental health hospitals who are registered at their place of custody or hospital must supply the same information as for an ordinary application.1  

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

All applications and declarations should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt. 

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area it should be forwarded to the relevant ERO without delay.

Any applicant who fails the DWP match must provide documentary evidence, or if they cannot provide documentary evidence, an attestation in the same way as people applying to register as an ordinary elector.

Confirming applications and declarations 

If you have determined that an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them in writing that their registration application has been successful.2   

You should also include, alongside the confirmation letter, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place you should make clear what the absent voting options are. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.

Last updated: 25 May 2021

How long are registrations valid for?

How long are registrations valid for?

Registration of remand prisoners and mental health patients lasts for 12 months from the day the entry is made on the register.1 Registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:2  

  • cancellation by the elector 
  • you determine the person is not entitled to be registered
  • you determine the person was registered, or that their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e. not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)
  • if another entry is made in respect of the elector in any register of electors 

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions.
 

Last updated: 15 October 2020

Anonymous registration

Anonymous registration

Anonymous registration is available to electors whose safety would be at risk if their name or address were listed on the electoral register. Other persons in the same household also qualify to register as anonymous electors and may also apply for anonymous registration if they wish.1  

You should consider which establishments or properties, such as refuges, should receive anonymous registration forms and additional information as part of your duty to maintain the register. Registration application forms could be sent with a note explaining what anonymous registration is and how people can apply.

In partnership with Women’s Aid we have produced a guide to anonymous registration for professionals working with survivors of domestic violence.

 

 

The guide, which may also be useful to you and your staff, explains what anonymous registration is and that an applicant’s name and address details will be kept securely and will not be searchable on the electoral register. The guide also outlines how to apply for anonymous registration.

There may be circumstances where a returned canvass communication may include a note from a potential elector with a reason that may satisfy the requirements for anonymous registration. An anonymous registration application should then be sent and the person told that others in the household may also be entitled to register anonymously. 

 

Combining anonymous registration with other special category elector entitlement

Anonymous registration does not affect any other special category elector entitlement and can be combined. For example, a person may be an anonymous elector with a local connection or an anonymous service voter, or an anonymous overseas voter if they meet the qualification for both registrations. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: 16 January 2023

How to make a new application to register as an anonymous elector

Individuals can make a new application to register as an anonymous elector either: 

  •  by providing the necessary information in writing (e.g. on a paper form)
  •  by telephone (if you offer the service)

Paper applications

We produce printable anonymous elector application form which you can use. They are published on our website and GOV.UK. We also provide versions of the forms in a range of accessible formats such as large print and easy read. 

Telephone applications

For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer this service wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act 2010, as people who may have difficulties completing the paper or online form will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone registration for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist applicants with disabilities in order to meet equalities obligations.

Last updated: 12 December 2023

What must be included in an application for anonymous registration?

What must be included in an application for anonymous registration?

Applicants for anonymous registration must include the following as part of their application for registration:1  

  • the applicant’s full name
  • the address where the applicant is resident on the date of the application and in respect of which they are applying to be registered 
  • where an anonymous application is made by a person under 18 years old for the purposes of registering in the local government register, the address given where the applicant is resident on the date of the application and in respect of which they are applying to be registered, must be an address in Wales
  • any address where the applicant has ceased to reside in the 12 months prior to the date of the application and, where that address is not in the UK, an indication of whether that person was registered as an overseas elector during this period
  • an indication of whether the applicant is resident at any other address, including any address where the applicant is currently registered and claims to be entitled to remain registered
  • the applicant’s date of birth or, if unable to provide this information, the reason why they are unable to do so and a statement as to whether the applicant is under the age of 16, age 16 or 17 or aged 18 or older2 or aged 76 or over  
  • the applicant’s National Insurance number or, if they are not able to provide this , the reason they are not able to do so. This does not apply where the applicant is under 16 years old
  • the applicant’s nationality or nationalities or, if they are not able to provide this information, the reason they are not able to do so
  • a declaration that the contents of the application are true
  • the date of the application
  • the fact that the application is accompanied by an application for anonymous registration

An application for anonymous registration must be in writing. It must be signed and dated by the applicant and must contain:3  

  • the applicant’s full name and address
  • the reason for their application
  • evidence to support their application (a court document or an attestation as described below)
  • if the applicant is someone who lives in the same household as someone whose safety would be at risk, evidence that the applicant lives in the same household as that person. Evidence could be a utility bill, bank statement, photocard driving licence, etc.
  • if the applicant is someone who lives in the same household as someone whose safety would be at risk, evidence that that person’s safety would be at risk
  • a declaration that: 
    • the evidence to support their application is genuine so far as the applicant is aware
    • if it is someone who lives in the same household, the person to whom the evidence relates lives in the same household and that, as far as they are aware, the evidence is genuine   
    • the other information given is true 

The application form must also provide space for their most recent previous name (if they have one)4 and an explanation that providing this information is not mandatory but may help in verifying their identity and that if it is not provided, additional personal information may be required.

Applicants must be able to satisfy you that their safety or that of any other person in the same household would be at risk if their details were made public.5 Documentary evidence or an attestation must be provided in support of the application.6  

You should not involve yourself in the personal circumstances of applicants and your decisions should only rely on the accompanying documents. You should be satisfied that documents provided in support of an application are genuine.

Anonymously registered electors are entitled to submit a correspondence address which must be used for future registration correspondence if given.7  

Last updated: 26 May 2021

What documents or attestations must be included with an application for anonymous registration?

What documents or attestations must be included with an application for anonymous registration?

The application must be accompanied by either a court order or an attestation.1  

Any court order or injunction must be for the protection or the benefit of the applicant or another person of the same household.2 The order must be in force on the day of the application,3 but need not be for the whole 12 month period of registration. An order ceasing to be in force during the 12 month period of registration does not reduce or otherwise affect the length of registration. A copy of any relevant court document is acceptable.4  

The eligible court documents are:5  

Eligible court documents
An injunction for the purpose of restraining a person from pursuing any conduct which amounts to harassment granted in proceedings under Section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 or under article 5 of the Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997
An injunction granted under Section 3A(2) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
A restraining order made under Section 5(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, or under article 7 of the Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997
A restraining order on acquittal made under Section 5A(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, or under article 7A(1) of the Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997
A non-harassment order, interdict or interim interdict made under Section 8 or 8A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
A non-harassment order made under Section 234A(2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
A non-molestation order made under Section 42(2) of the Family Law Act 1996, or under article 20(2) of the Family Homes and Domestic Violence (Northern Ireland) Order 1998
A matrimonial interdict within the meaning of Section 14 of the Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981
A domestic interdict within the meaning of Section 18A of the Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981
A relevant interdict within the meaning of Section 113 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004
An interdict that has been determined to be a domestic abuse interdict within the meaning of Section 3 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2011
Any interdict with an attached power of arrest made under Section 1 of the Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001
A forced marriage protection order or interim forced marriage protection order made under Part 4A of the Family Law Act 1996, or under Section 2 of, and paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to, the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, or under Section 1 or Section 5 of the Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011
A domestic violence protection order made under Section 28 of the Crime and Security Act 2010 or section 97 of, and paragraph 5 of Schedule 7 to, the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.
A template of a domestic violence protection order is available on our website, though you should be aware that each order will be tailored to the circumstances of the case
A female genital mutilation protection order made under Section 5A of, and paragraphs 1 or 18 of Schedule 2 to, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
A template of a female genital mutilation protection order is available on our website, though you should be aware that an Order may vary in appearance
A domestic abuse protection order within the meaning of Section 27 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 may only be used for an application for anonymous registration for the register of parliamentary electors

No documents other than these can be used as eligible court documents in support of an application for anonymous registration.

If an attestation is used it must certify that if the name or address were on the register the applicant’s or another member of the same household’s ‘safety would be at risk’.6 Attestations must be in writing and must be signed and dated by a qualifying officer. The period of the attestation begins on the date stated and lasts for a period of between one and five years. The actual length must be stated within the attestation.7
 
The anonymous registration application form approved by the Lord President of the Council and made available by the Electoral Commission contains a template attestation that applicants may use.

The qualifying officers who may attest are:8  

  • a police officer of or above the rank of inspector of any police force in the UK 
  • the Director General of the Security Service or the National Crime Agency
  • a director of adult social services or children’s services in England or a director of social services in Wales
  • any chief social work officer in Scotland
  • a director of social services in Wales may authorise any person to attest an anonymous registration application for a person aged under 16. The written authorisation from the director of social services must accompany the attestation9
  • any director of social services of a Health and Social Services Board or executive director of social work of a Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland
  • any medical practitioner who is registered with the General Medical Council
  • any nurse or midwife who is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • any person who manages a refuge. A ‘refuge’ means accommodation together with a planned programme of therapeutic and practical support for victims of, or those at risk of, domestic abuse or violence10  

No person other than those listed may attest an application for anonymous registration. It is not possible for a qualifying officer to delegate their power to attest an application to a different person.

The attestation can come from one of the qualifying officers from a different area from which the elector now lives and is registering. This may often be the case where the applicant has moved to a new area to set up home away from the cause of the risk to their safety. For example, an attestation from one English local authority director of children’s services is valid in every local authority area in Great Britain.

You should consider contacting any qualifying officers to alert them to their powers under the anonymous registration process. They may wish to be aware of their attestation powers and any guidance that their representative groups have given on dealing with requests for attestation. In particular, you should proactively contact any refuges, GP surgeries and other medical establishments in your registration area who may not be aware that the types of court order and the attestation requirements have been expanded. For example, you could contact social services, Women’s Aid, or other organisations who work with survivors of domestic abuse, and – explaining what are you doing – ask for details of refuges in your registration area.

In partnership with Women’s Aid we have produced a guide to anonymous registration for professionals working with survivors of domestic violence.

The guide explains what anonymous registration is and that an applicant’s name and address details will be kept securely and will not be searchable on the electoral register. The guide also outlines how to apply for anonymous registration and how refuge managers may provide an attestation if they wish to do so.

If you consider it necessary, you are able to undertake online checks of certain categories of attestor:

  • The General Medical Council maintains a list of registered medical practitioners available on their website: www.gmc-uk.org
  • The Nursing & Midwifery Council maintains a list of registered nurses and midwives on their website: www.nmc.org.uk

If you have concerns about an application for anonymous registration, it should be treated like any other application for registration. As set out in identifying suspicious registration applications, your local police single point of contact (SPOC) will help you ensure that any possible instances of registration fraud are quickly identified and dealt with. If you have reason to believe that an attestation provided as part of an application for anonymous registration is not genuine, you should contact your SPOC as soon as possible.

Last updated: 8 February 2023

How should an application for anonymous registration be processed?

How should an application for anonymous registration be processed?

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement if you wish. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

Applications should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt. 

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area it should be forwarded to the relevant ERO without delay.

Any applicant who fails the DWP match must provide documentary evidence, or if they cannot provide documentary evidence, an attestation in the same way as people applying to register as an ordinary elector. See our guidance on verification, exceptions and attestations.

All correspondence between you and applicants may be sent electronically. In addition, it is permissible for applicants to provide attestations or documentary evidence by electronic means such as a fax or scanned image.

Where an application to register anonymously is made by a person under 18 years old for the purpose of registering in the local government register, and that person’s identity cannot be verified by education records or other local data, you should ask them to provide documentary evidence, or if they cannot do so, an attestation, in the same way as people applying to register as an ordinary elector.

Anonymous registration application details such as name and address are not added to the lists of applications. Anonymous applications are not available for public inspection at any time.1
 
This means that these applications do not have the same type of public scrutiny as other electoral registration applications. You should therefore be particularly proactive in being satisfied that all the requirements for registration are met.

When an anonymous application is received, all previous ‘ordinary’ applications either awaiting determination or determined but not added to the register for that individual are suspended until the anonymous application is determined. If the anonymous application is rejected, then all pending applications for registration must be disregarded. If the anonymous registration application is rejected, they cannot be added as an ordinary elector.

Confirming applications and declarations

If you determine that an applicant is entitled to be registered anonymously, you must issue a certificate of anonymous registration.2  You must also send them a notice by post, as soon as is reasonably practicable, to inform them that they must have an Anonymous Elector's Document if they want to vote in person at UK parliamentary and Police and Crime Commission elections, or sign a signing sheet in person at a recall petition.3 You should also consider confirming any absent voting arrangements that are in place, or if no arrangements are in place you should make clear what their absent voting options are. If a person already has an entry on the register and an anonymous application is accepted, the ordinary register entry must be removed and the anonymous registration added. However, the existing entry must not be removed until the anonymous application is accepted. 

If you have rejected an application, you should notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.

The details of a person who has made an application to register anonymously must not be added to the register if the anonymous part of the application fails.4  However, you should encourage them to submit an ordinary registration application and invite them to register. If they do not submit an application in response to an invitation, you may require them to submit an application to register, but you should consider the individual’s particular circumstances before issuing a requirement to register notice.

Where a requirement to register is issued to a person under 16 years old, it must not include reference to the civil penalty as a civil penalty cannot be imposed on a person under 16 years old.

Last updated: 13 December 2023

What are the deadlines for adding anonymously registered electors to the register?

What are the deadlines for adding anonymously registered electors to the register?

The deadlines for anonymous applications are different from ordinary registration applications as there is no five day objections period for anonymous applicants. This is because their applications cannot be objected to.

The deadlines for receiving and determining anonymous registration applications are as follows:1

Action Deadline
For being added to a monthly notice of alteration 14 calendar days before the publication of the notice
For being added to the final election notice of alteration 6 working days before polling day
For being added to the revised register following the canvass The last working day of the month prior to the month when the revised register is published
For being added to a revised register published at any other time 14 calendar days before the end of the month preceding the month when the revised register is due to be published
Last updated: 11 August 2021

How should anonymous electors be listed in the register?

How should anonymous electors be listed in the register?

Persons registered anonymously must be included at the end of each relevant part of the register under the heading other electors without a name or address. The entry for each anonymously registered elector must consist of their elector number and the letter ‘N’.1
 
Anonymous entries must not be included in the edited register and all anonymous electors are automatically opted out.2  

You must keep a separate list – the record of anonymous entries. This will contain the elector number, full name, qualifying address, correspondence address (if any) and the date that the registration first took effect. If the person has a postal vote, the delivery address must also be kept on the record.3  You should ensure that the list is kept secure and prevent any unauthorised access.

Only the following persons and organisations are entitled to have access to the record of anonymous entries:4

  • Returning Officers and referendum Counting Officers
  • the Jury Service
  • the security services, including Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
  • the police, including the National Crime Agency (at the request of a senior officer, this means an officer a rank senior to that of superintendent, or, in the case of the National Crime Agency, the Director General of that Agency)

When a person is entered in the record, you will need to issue a signed ‘certificate of anonymous registration’. This must state the local authority area, the elector’s name, qualifying address, electoral number and the date on which the registration took effect. It must also state that the registration will end no later than 12 months from that date if a fresh application for anonymous registration is not made.5  

We have produced a template certificate of anonymous registration which you may wish to use.

Absent voting lists 

The absent voting lists for anonymous electors and their proxies, must contain only the elector’s electoral number and the period for which the absent vote is in effect, but not any name or address.6  At an election, the copy of the absent voting lists to enable postal vote issuing and marking the return of postal votes contains only the electoral number.7  The address to which the ballot pack will be sent must not be on that list and all correspondence must be sent in an unidentifiable envelope.8  

Last updated: 25 May 2021

How long is an anonymous registration valid for?

How long is an anonymous registration valid for?

Registration lasts for 12 months from the day the anonymous entry is first made on the register.1 Anonymous registrations can be removed earlier in the following circumstances:2  

  • cancellation by the elector 
  • you determine the person is not entitled to be registered
  • you determine the person was registered, or that their entry was altered, as a result of an application made by another person (i.e. not the individual whose details are provided on the application and who has declared that the information provided is true)

For guidance on removing an elector from the register, see our guidance on deletions.
 

Last updated: 15 October 2020

Renewal process for an anonymous registration

Renewal process for an anonymous registration

An anonymous elector is entitled to remain registered, provided the elector continues to satisfy the other conditions for registration during this period, until the end of the 12 month period beginning with the date when their entry first takes effect. 

You will need to maintain a record showing when reminders are due to be sent. 

You must send a reminder between 9 and 10 months after the date of the first registration (and each anniversary). The reminder must explain that a fresh application for anonymous registration must be made if the elector wants to remain registered anonymously.1  

Any renewal application must contain the same level of evidence as the original application. Applicants should therefore be advised to keep a copy of attestations or copies of court documents for subsequent applications. You should offer to copy any originals so that they can be returned and the copy kept for reference. If the elector loses their supporting documents, provided you have the appropriate safeguards in place, you could supply a copy of any document or attestation which is still in force to assist with any renewal.

Anonymous entries can be subject to the review procedures. Further consideration of the review process is contained in reviews, objections and deletions. The name and address of the person is not entered on the list of persons under review. 
 

Last updated: 15 October 2020

Donations to registered political parties by anonymously registered electors

Donations to registered political parties by anonymously registered electors

Anonymously registered individuals can donate to registered political parties but they must provide the party with a copy of their certificate of anonymous registration as proof of eligibility. A registered political party may ask you to confirm the validity of any certificate. The elector details cannot be confirmed but you may wish to confirm the format of their certificate and that the electoral number on that certificate matches the register entry for an anonymous elector. 

Guidance for Returning Officers on sending poll cards and postal votes to electors registered anonymously is contained in Part C and D of our guidance for Returning Officers.
 

Last updated: 27 July 2020

Resources for Electoral Registration Officers - Special Category Electors

Last updated: 5 June 2023

Inviting individuals to register to vote

This section contains guidance on who should be invited to register to vote and how the invitation should be made.

It also covers the follow up processes to undertake if someone does not respond to an invitation to register, what you can do to require them to register and information on issuing a civil penalty notice.

Last updated: 24 June 2020

Who should be invited to register to vote?

Any potential electors identified, for example by a successful response to a canvass communication, direct contact from individuals or by other local data matching, should be invited to make an application to register to vote. You should do this by sending an invitation to register (ITR) and an application form. 

The ITR must invite potential electors to make an application to register as soon as reasonably practicable and within 28 calendar days of the date that you identified that they may be entitled to be registered.  

Where the 28 day period ends on a weekend or bank holiday, the period is extended to the next working day.1

Your EMS should have a mechanism for keeping a record of the date on which you conclude that an individual may be entitled to be registered, which then starts the 28-day period. 

You should have a process in place to identify whether an application to register has been made before you give an invitation. You should not issue an ITR to an individual who has made an application to register, or if you identify that they are not eligible to register to vote. 

Your EMS may be able to automate a process to check for applications received through any allowed channels before you issue an ITR. 

Some manual checking of applications received against invitations issued may also be required, as the name on an application may not exactly match the name of the individual to whom you have given an invitation.

A manual check could be done by cross-checking the details on an application against your list of potential new electors to whom you have sent an ITR. On paper applications, this process could be facilitated by adding a barcode to the paper application form you are including alongside your ITR.

Sharing good practice

Swale Borough Council have successfully used a postcard-style colour-coded household notification card to encourage people who are not already registered to make an application. Further information on this can be found here.

Last updated: 5 October 2020

Content of the invitation to register

The content of the ITR is prescribed.1   

Whenever you issue an ITR you must include a paper application form with it.

You must use the application form approved by the Minister for the The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and made available to you by the Commission and must, if practicable, pre-print on the application form the full name and address of the individual being invited.2  This does not apply if you give the ITR by electronic means.3  In that case the prescribed email ITR includes a link to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

The ITR and application form that you must use are available on our website. The prescribed form includes a data protection statement and the prescribed description of the electoral and open registers.  The data protection statement also includes wording covering what happens to data relating to 14 and 15 year olds.

The prescribed email invitation is included in the letters folder, also available on our website. You should always ensure that you are using the latest versions.

Our forms and letters guidance sets out how the application form and letter must be used.  

The forms and letters guidance is available on our website.

 
Last updated: 22 May 2024

How should an invitation to register be issued?

An ITR must be given either by delivering it to the individual (including by post) or by leaving it at the individual’s address.1  

The ITR may also be given by electronic means, including by email.2

An ITR cannot be given verbally, such as by telephone, although you can informally prompt applications to register by any suitable means before or after you have given an invitation.

When you have decided how to give an ITR, you should ensure that you have processes in place to create an audit trail of the deliveries. Before you can require an individual to make an application to register, you will need to establish that they have received at least one ITR. 

You may want to ensure that at least one of the ITRs is hand-delivered. This will provide you with assurance that an ITR was delivered. 

Your public engagement strategy and registration plan should reflect your considerations of the delivery method for ITRs. 

Envelopes

If you are delivering a paper ITR you should address the covering envelope to the named individual at the address you have identified. You must print the following information on the envelope.3

  • a direction requesting that the envelope is not re-directed if it is incorrectly addressed
  • a direction requesting that any other individual who receives the envelope and who is resident at the address inform you if the addressee is not resident there
  • your contact details

You must also include with the ITR – except for any sent electronically – a pre-addressed, pre-paid reply envelope in which the form can be returned.4  

Suggested content for envelopes, which includes all required information, and accompanying guidance can be found here.
 

Last updated: 24 June 2020

Encouraging applications before giving an invitation to register

You can prompt an individual to make an application after you have given a formal ITR. There may be circumstances, such as immediately before an election, where you should encourage people to register informally and not wait to formally invite them to register.

Prompting and encouraging an application to be made, in particular an online application, has the potential to improve efficiency and reduce your costs because you will not have to start the formal ITR process, which would involve follow up activity if no response is received.

You can use contact information provided to you by individuals on canvass communications for any appropriate purpose in connection with that individual’s entitlement to be registered, or for the purpose of carrying out your duty to encourage electoral registration.1

If you do decide to informally prompt applications you should do so as soon as possible after you identify an individual, to allow time for them to make an application before a formal invitation is given.

You could prompt applications by:

  • emailing a link to the online application form and providing information about the other available channels for registration if you have an e-mail address
  • encouraging an application to register when following up a canvass communication using telephone canvassing, if you have identified potential new electors 
  • providing information about how to register by phone or email to individuals who get in touch with the local authority contact centre about a change of address  

Any methods used to prompt applications should also enable you to identify and invite to register other potential new electors who may be resident at the same address. 

You should consider how you will evaluate your approach to prompting applications to understand how effective they are in encouraging registration and reducing the number of electors you formally invite to register. The outcome of any evaluation carried out may identify which approaches are most effective allowing you to tailor your approach to prompting applications across your local area.

You do not have to issue an invitation to an individual who, when informally prompted, makes an application before the end of the 28-day period in which an ITR must have been given.

If a prompt encouraging an individual to make an application to register does not lead to an application being made, you are still required send an ITR within 28 days of becoming aware of the potential elector. 

Sharing good practice

Information on and examples of how some EROs are utilising their registration stationary and materials to encourages responses, can be found in our resource ‘Encouraging responses’.

Last updated: 9 August 2023

How should I follow up with non-responders to an invitation to register?

After an individual has been given an ITR, you are required to take certain steps to encourage them to make an application to register if they have not yet done so. You should have processes in place to identify whether an application has been made by any available channel before you send a reminder invitation. 

You may visit the address at which you delivered the first invitation at any time to encourage the individual to make an application.

You are not required to carry out the follow up steps if, since sending the first ITR, you are now satisfied that the individual in question is not entitled to be registered at the address where the invitation was given, or that the individual is registered at a different address.1  

Last updated: 24 June 2020

Sending reminder invitations

If you have given an ITR and the individual does not make an application to register within a reasonable period of time, you must give them a second invitation.1  

If no application is made within a reasonable period of time following the second invitation you must give a third invitation.2  

There is no difference in the requirements for the content and delivery of ITRs at the second and third reminder stages. 

In practice, the second and third invitations are reminders to the individual to make an application to register. You should consider whether the use of a different delivery method for the second or third invitation could be more effective. For example if you have not received a response to an email ITR, you should consider giving the reminder invitations by post or by hand.

You are not required to send reminder invitations to special category electors. 

Last updated: 24 June 2020

Making at least one personal visit

If you have given a third invitation and no application to register has been made, you are required by law to make at least one visit to the address for the purpose of encouraging an application to be made.1

You can choose to make a visit at any time in the process, for example, at the same time as delivering any of the invitations. You may, therefore, have met this requirement before the end of the ITR chasing cycle. You must, however, have made a visit specifically for the purpose of encouraging an individual to make an application to register. In our view, this means a visit where you have attempted to make contact personally with the individual you are inviting. 

What constitutes a personal visit?  

A visit made only for the purpose of leaving an ITR and application form at the address with no attempt made to contact the individual being invited would not, in our view, satisfy the requirement. 

The requirement would be fulfilled if the individual making the visit speaks to the individual being invited and encourages them to make an application. 

As with all stages of this process, you should ensure that you keep records for the purpose of having a clear audit trail of the steps that you have taken as part of the ITR process. This will help to ensure that, if you consider requiring an individual to make an application, you are able to establish that the prerequisites for making such a requirement have been met. 

You should, in any case, consider making a further visit if this is likely to result in an application being made.

If no application is made in response to the third invitation and you have made at least one visit to the address, you can move to the next stage of requiring the individual to make an application to register by giving them notice in writing of the requirement.2  

A personal visit to 14 or 15 year olds who have