Registering and maintaining a party

Party registration applications ahead of the 2022 May Polls

Because of the short time until the deadline for delivering nominations, we are unlikely to grant applications submitted now to register a new political party, amend a name for an existing party, amend or add an emblem, or to add a description for use on ballot papers at the elections taking place on 5 May 2022.

We advised parties to make sure that applications were with us by 5pm, Friday 21 January 2022. 

When must we take final decisions by?

New parties must be registered with us by a certain date in order to contest each type of election. Similarly, we must take decisions on applications made by existing parties that want to make changes to their names, descriptions, or emblems by a certain date. These dates are outlined in the table below.

Type of election New parties must be registered by... Changes to existing party details (names, emblems, descriptions) must be granted by…
  • Combined authority and Local authority mayoral elections in England
  • Local elections in England and Wales
  • Parish and community council elections in England and Wales
Friday 1 April 2022 4pm, Tuesday 5 April 2022
  • Northern Ireland Assembly elections
Wednesday 6 April 2022 1pm, Friday 8 April 2022
  • Council elections in Scotland
Monday 28 March 2022 4pm, Wednesday 30 March 2022

Separate provisions apply for applications to substitute or remove descriptions – this is explained in more detail below. 

Where a party has submitted an application containing all of the information required by law, we aim to reach a decision within 7 weeks of submission. However, it may take longer than this, particularly where we the application is complex or we are already handling a large number of other applications. Undertaking our necessary assessment process means that a decision will not be granted immediately.

This is why we asked parties to submit any applications before 21 January. 

If you have submitted an application already, and did so before 21 January, then we will aim to take a decision on your application by the relevant deadline.

Standing as an independent candidate

You may choose to stand as an independent candidate at the 2022 May Polls. You can find out more information about how to do this for each type of election here.

Independent candidates have the option to use the word ‘Independent’, or ‘Annibynnol’ in Wales, as a description on ballot papers. No other descriptions are allowed for candidates who are not standing for registered political parties.

Application to substitute or remove a description

If we decide to grant an application to substitute or remove a description, and that decision is taken between:

  • the date of publication of the notice of election (including that date); and
  • polling day

then the change will not take effect until the day following the poll.

Please note that the notice of election must be published before:

  • Monday 14 March 2022 for the Council elections in Scotland
  • Monday 28 March 2022 for the other elections taking place on 5 May 2022

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 using the PEF online guide.

Overview

Party names, descriptions and emblems

This part covers:

  • introduction to identity marks
  • how identity marks are used
  • where identity marks are recorded
Introduction

Registering a political party

This part covers:

  • an introduction to your responsibilities
  • maintaining your party's details
  • donations and loans responsibilities
  • annual accounting responsibilities
  • campaign spending responsibilities
Situations and procedures

Process for registering a political party

This part covers:

  • registering a party
  • responsibilities and obligations
  • application process
Situation and procedures

PEF Online: getting started

This part covers:

  • benefits of using PEF Online
  • registering to use PEF online
  • managing your PEF Online account

Registering and maintaining a party

We regulate the finances of political parties and maintain the registers of political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.