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

Providing information to political parties, candidates and agents


You should ensure that you offer all potential candidates and agents a briefing session before or at the start of the nomination period. You should also hold an additional briefing session after the list of candidates standing for election has been confirmed after the close of nominations.

As a minimum, your briefing should cover:

You will also need to decide how information about local arrangements will be provided. This will include information on the dates, times and venues for the  key election processes including:

  • postal vote issues and openings
  • polling day
  • the verification and count 

The briefings should allow for the fact that there may be people who have little or no knowledge of election rules and procedures or who have not involved themselves in elections for some time. 

All briefing sessions should highlight the importance of following the election rules. You should also provide information on the standards of behaviour you expect from supporters in the area of the polling place on polling day.

We have produced a template presentation for candidates and agents, which you may want to use as a basis for briefing candidates and agents in your area.

Providing written information 

You should ensure that candidates and election agents are also issued with written guidance on the election process and that the information is provided in good time to enable candidates and agents to act on it. 

The purpose of providing written guidance is so that parties, candidates and agents have access to authoritative and comprehensive guidance for reference at any time to ensure that they have all the information they need to take part in an election. 

Where appropriate, you can provide candidates and agents with a link to where they can find the relevant information online and it will be for you to ensure that candidates can easily access the information they need and to do whatever is necessary to facilitate this.


You should ensure that candidates and agents can easily access all the information they need in order to be able to participate in the election.

You should bear in mind that candidates and agents may have specific access needs, and so may need any information or guidance produced in a large-print or other format, such as Braille or audio, or in a language other than English (or, in Wales, in a language other than English or Welsh). 

You should also consider that candidates and agents may have special requirements to support their attendance at briefings and you should make briefings available online or via video conference wherever possible. 

You can record your briefing and make this available online for candidates and agents to watch on demand at their convenience, with details of how they can ask any follow up questions afterwards included.

However, you will also need to consider how you will offer briefings to those who are unable to, or uncomfortable with, accessing such information online, which may require you to provide some in-person briefings. You should inform candidates and agents of your proposed approach early to assist with your planning and preparation. Those interested in receiving a briefing should be asked to register in advance so that you can track numbers as well as accessibility requirements, which will enable you to tailor your approach and put the appropriate arrangements in place.

Last updated: 19 December 2023