Guidance for Candidates and Agents at UK Parliamentary general elections in Great Britain

Disqualifications

Apart from meeting the qualifications for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified.

The full range of disqualifications is complex and if you are in any doubt about whether you are disqualified, you must do everything you can to check that you are not disqualified before submitting your nomination papers. 

The Elections Act 2022 introduced a disqualification conviction of an intimidatory criminal offence motivated by hostility towards a candidate, future candidate or campaigner or holder of a relevant elective office. This new legislation will be in force for polls held on or after 2 May 2024.

You must be sure that you are not disqualified as you will be asked to sign one of the required nomination papers to confirm that you are not disqualified.1   

It is a criminal offence to make a false statement on your nomination papers2  as to your qualification for being elected, so if you are in any doubt you should contact your employer, consult the legislation or, if necessary, take your own independent legal advice.

The (Acting) Returning Officer will not be able to confirm whether or not you are disqualified.

There are certain people who are disqualified from becoming a Member of Parliament in Great Britain. You cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on polling day:

  • You hold a post that is disqualified from becoming a Member of Parliament.3 More information is set out in our guidance Disqualifying offices.
  • You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions.4 More information is set out in our guidance on Bankruptcy
  • You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment or detained for a year or more and are detained anywhere in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or are unlawfully at large.5 The nomination of a person disqualified on this basis is void, and the (Acting) Returning Officer is entitled to reject their nomination paper.6
  • You have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations). The disqualification for an illegal practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for three years.7  The disqualification for a corrupt practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years.8
  • For polls on or after 2 May 2024 - You have been convicted of an intimidatory criminal offence motivated by hostility towards a candidate, future candidate or campaigner or holder of a relevant elective office.9 The effect of a disqualification order is that the person will be disqualified from standing for, being elected to, and holding any relevant elective office for five years.
Last updated: 4 December 2023