Guidance for (Acting) Returning Officers administering a UK Parliamentary election in Great Britain

Carrying out informal checks

The purpose of an informal check is to check that a nomination paper appears to be complete in respect of all the legal requirements.

When conducting an informal check you should make it clear that the nomination papers are being looked at informally only. 

This process allows you to highlight any errors which would invalidate the paper or which may give reason for a challenge following the election, allowing the opportunity for these to be corrected before being formally submitted. 

For elections taking place on or after 2 May 2024, as part of your informal checks you may wish to highlight to candidates the updated rules regarding commonly used names and home addresses.  

Once informal checks are complete, the papers will either be handed back, or if there are no amendments to be made, they may be formally submitted.  

The person delivering the nomination paper may choose not to wait for an informal check or may choose not to make any changes following advice given at the informal checking stage. If that is the case the paper should be considered as formally submitted and you should accept it at face value. 

All candidates and agents should be given an equal opportunity to access an informal check.

You should consider how you are going to manage this process, for example by putting in place an appointment system.

Last updated: 19 December 2023