Guidance and resources

Candidates and their agents must follow certain rules set out in legislation. We provide guidance to help candidates and agents comply with the rules. You do not have to follow this guidance, but if you do, you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. On this page you will find links to all the different elections that we produce guidance for.

We have produced a document for people who want to know the basics about elections, the roles of different organisations and where to find more information.

Read our introduction to elections (PDF)

Our guidance for elections covers:

  • standing for election
  • campaigning
  • accepting donations
  • spending money
  • your rights as a candidate, including access to election proceedings
  • reporting after the election

Changes to the law

The UK government has changed the law on who can donate money to candidates.

From the date of the UK’s departure from the EU, donations can no longer be accepted from companies incorporated in another EU member state.

It remains possible for the UK government to defer, revoke or change these new laws. Candidates and agents must make sure that they know the up to date position before accepting donations that might be affected. We will update our website as soon as we know more.

Guidance about harassment and intimidation

Robust political debate is part of a healthy democracy, but sometimes things can go too far.

The National Police Chiefs Council, working with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Electoral Commission, have produced two guidance documents for candidates and campaigners, to help you understand when behaviour goes beyond political debate and may be unlawful.

There is a short guide called ‘When things go too far’ which provides general advice, and a longer ‘Joint guidance for candidates in elections’ which provides more detail as to the nature of possible offences.

If you feel that behaviour towards you may be unlawful or are concerned for your safety or that of others, you should always contact the police.

Download joint guidance for candidates in elections (PDF)

Download guidance for candidates in Scotland (PDF)

Download the short guide "When things go too far" (PDF)

How we can help

As well as our guidance, we are happy to answer questions and give advice. We are here to help, so please get in touch.

If you have a question about standing for election, please call or email your local Commission team in England, or your local office in Wales or Scotland. For information on standing for election in Northern Ireland, contact The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.

If you have a question about campaigning, accepting donations, spending money or reporting after the election, please call 020 7271 0616 or email pef@electoralcommission.org.uk

Between elections, there are rules on donations to certain individuals for political purposes. If you are a prospective candidate and you belong to a registered party please also see our page for regulated individuals.