The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Guidance on registering and maintaining a party

On 10 April 2019 an order came into force that the European Parliamentary elections will take place in the UK on 23 May 2019. The close of nominations will be 4pm on Wednesday 24 April 2019 in the South West electoral region and 4pm on Thursday 25 April 2019 in all other regions.

We must assess all registration applications against legal tests. Due to the very short time until close of nominations, we will not decide applications made now in time for the poll. If you have a current application with us, we will provide you with a decision as soon as possible. However, we cannot guarantee that it will be prior to close of nominations.

If a party is not registered with us then candidates may not use that party’s name or identity marks on ballot papers. However, individual candidates do not need to stand on behalf of a political party in order to contest the election – those candidates can use the word “Independent” to identify themselves on ballot papers. You can find guidance for candidates here.

If you don’t stand candidates at the EPEs but you still campaign, you may be considered a “non-party campaigner”, or “third party”. You can find more information about non-party campaigner registration and spending rules for the EPEs here.

Registration applications ahead of the May 2019 polls in England and Northern Ireland

Applications to register a new political party, amend a party name, amend or add an emblem, or add a description

In order to have been likely to receive a decision from the Commission on registration applications for use on ballot papers at the May 2019 polls, you needed to have submitted your application to us by 12pm on Monday 4 February 2019. That deadline has now passed. Any registration application now lodged is unlikely to receive a decision in time for inclusion on a ballot paper for the May 2019 polls.

Not being registered as a political party does not prevent a party from campaigning ahead of the May 2019 polls. Nor does it prevent an individual nominating to stand as a candidate. However, any candidate that may stand will not be able to use the unregistered party’s name or identity marks on ballot papers, instead they can nominate to use the word ‘Independent’ to identify themselves on ballot papers.

We endeavour to process all registration applications received as soon as possible, however, we must carefully assess applications against the criteria set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Undertaking this necessary process can take some time in order to ensure we reach a fair conclusion within the legislative requirements.

Please note that the registration application fee is not refundable.

Applications to substitute or remove a description

Specific rules apply to applications to substitute or remove a description.  Because of the tight timescales involved, any application now lodged is unlikely to receive a decision in time for inclusion a ballot paper for the May 2019 polls.

If an application to substitute or remove a description is granted at any time between

  • the date of publication of the notice of election (including the date of publication) at an election in which there are one or more candidates standing in the name of the party, and
  • polling day

the change does not take effect until the day following the poll.

This means that where a decision is granted on an application to substitute or remove a description on the day of publication of the notice of election or after, it will not take effect with regard to what can appear on the ballot paper for that election.

Please note that the notice of election for the local elections in England on 2 May 2019 must be published no later than 26 March 2019. However, local authorities may individually choose to publish the notice sooner than that.

We endeavour to process all applications received as soon as possible, however, we must carefully assess applications against the criteria set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Undertaking this necessary process can take some time in order to ensure we reach a fair conclusion within the legislative requirements.

Please note that the registration application fee is not refundable.

We regulate the finances of political parties and maintain the registers of political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This page contains all the guidance and forms you need to maintain a party.

What type of party do you want to register?

We register two types of party: a registered political party and a minor party.

Registering a political party

A registered political party can apply to be registered on the Great Britain (GB) register, the Northern Ireland (NI) register, or both registers. Parties on the GB register also select which parts of GB they want to be registered in. Parties can choose a combination of England, Scotland and Wales.

Registering a minor party

A minor party is registered on the Great Britain register, but it can only contest parish council elections in England and community council elections in Wales. If you set up a minor party you will not have to submit as much information to us when applying to register, or be subject to the same degree of financial controls, compared to a registered political party.

Applying to register online?

You can use our PEF Online services to do everything from registering your party, submitting your statutory returns to telling us you want to de-register your party. You will need to register as an online user and you can do this by emailing pef@electoralcommission.org.uk, calling our new number 0333 103 1928 or our old number 020 7271 0616 or by following this link:
PEF Online - Getting Started

Introduction

Registering a political party

This part covers:

Introduction_registering-a-party
  • An introduction to your responsibilities
  • Maintaining your party's details
  • Donations and loans responsibilities
  • Annual accounting responsibilities
  • Campaign spending responsibilities

Introduction to registering a political party (PDF)

Overview

Maintaining party details

This part covers:

Overview_Accounts_part_Treas

  • A summary of your responsibilities
  • Keeping clear and accurate records
  • Preparing your statement of accounts

 

Overview of maintaining party details (PDF)

Party or campaigner