Guidance for campaign spending, donations and reporting in the run up to a referendum.

There are rules campaigners must follow on campaign spending, donations and reporting in the run up to a referendum. We regulate those rules.

We register campaigners in a referendum and provide advice and guidance on the rules on spending and donations that campaigners must follow.

Our guidance is here to help campaigners 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.

The Referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union was held on 23 June 2016.

Our guidance for this event is set out below. For further information on that referendum, please see:

Guidance for campaigners for the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union

Designated lead campaigners

The Electoral Commission has the statutory duty to appoint designated lead campaign groups for each side of the referendum campaign or for one side only. The designated campaigner will act as the lead campaign group on behalf of those campaigning for that outcome.

We have designated 'The In Campaign Ltd' as the lead campaigner for the 'Remain' outcome and 'Vote Leave Ltd' as the lead campaigner for the 'Leave' outcome at the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

You can find more information on designation here:

Commencement of referendum period

Before a referendum is held, there is a formal campaigning period called the ‘referendum period’. During this period, certain rules on campaigning and spending apply.

The referendum period starts on 15 April 2016 and ends on 23 June 2016. The spending limits apply during this period.

If you want to spend more than £10,000 during the referendum period you must register with us:

Pre-poll reporting

In the run up to the referendum, registered campaigners (other than registered political parties, but including minor parties) must report certain donations and loans to us. This is called pre-poll reporting.

The first pre-poll reporting period for registered campaigners is 1 February – 21 April 2016. The deadline for the first pre-poll report is 28 April 2016.

Contact us

If you have any queries about our guidance please contact us on 0333 103 1928 or by email on pef@electoralcommission.org.uk.

For press and media queries please contact our press office: 020 7271 0704 or by email on press@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Introduction

Introduction to a referendum

This part covers:

  • What is a referendum
  • What happens when a referendum is held
  • Who does what
Overview

Campaigning and registering for EU referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • Campaigners at a referendum
  • Registering as a campaigner
  • Lead campaigners
  • The referendum period
  • The referendum timetable

Overview:

Situations and procedures:

Situations and procedures:

Situations and procedures

Working together for EU referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • Working together with other campaigners
  • Spending rules when you are working together
  • Recording referendum spending
  • Reporting after the referendum
Situations and procedures

Pre-poll reporting for referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • Pre-poll reporting timetable
  • What are donations and loans
  • What you need to report
Overview

Donations and loans for EU referendum campaigners

This part covers:

  • What counts as a donation
  • Accepting and valuing donations
  • What we mean by loans
  • Who can be a lender
  • Checking permissibility
  • Recording and reporting donations and loans

Overview:

Overview:

Situations and procedures:

Permissibility:

Factsheet

Public bodies and EU referendum material

This part covers:

  • The rules on what information certain public bodies can publish in the run-up to the referendum