Telephone and in-person applications

Legislation enables applications by phone and in person. For the benefit and convenience of electors, you should offer these services wherever possible. This will also help you meet your duties under the Equalities Act, as people who may have difficulties completing the paper or online form will have the opportunity to apply without the need to provide the information in writing.

If you are unable to provide telephone and/or in-person registration for all, you may allow these at your discretion in certain circumstances, and you should do so to assist applicants with disabilities in order to meet equalities obligations.

If you decide to allow telephone applications, you may use a central contact centre. This gives staff the opportunity to promote registration to residents who are contacting the authority for another purpose and take an application to register by phone. This could help to maximise the accuracy and completeness of the register and avoid you having to formally invite them to register.

Because of the requirement for an application to be made in writing, where a person applies by telephone or in-person, you must transfer the information into an application in writing. In practice this can be achieved by inputting the information into a paper application form or the register to vote website. 

If you decide to accept applications by telephone and/or in-person it is important that you keep accurate records of the applications or information provided. Before collecting the information required for the application, you should inform the applicant:

  • that the information they provide will be processed in accordance with data protection legislation (reflecting the wording used in the prescribed voter registration form)  
  • what information will appear on the register
  • that it is an offence to knowingly provide false information, and that the maximum penalty is up to six months in prison and/or a fine not exceeding £5,000

Before asking whether the applicant wishes their name and address to be included in the open register you must provide the applicant with an explanation of what the open register is, using the prescribed short form of words.

For applicants that are 14 or 15 years old, you do not need to provide an explanation of the open register as the details of such individuals must not be included in any version of the published register, including the edited register.

When taking information on the applicant’s nationality, you should consider highlighting to the applicant that checks may be carried out in relation to their immigration status against Home Office records. 

Further guidance on this process and contact details are available by contacting the Home Office:

You will be asked to complete a template which will be provided – please complete and return the section below the heading ‘Subject 1’ to the same email address. The Home Office have requested one template per subject per email, and that ‘ER’ be added to the subject header for each email to ensure that it goes into the correct folder for a response. The Home Office will respond within five working days unless a file is required, in which case it will respond within ten working days. The fact that you may request checks of a person’s immigration status against Government records is included on the registration application form approved by the Minister and made available to you by the Commission.

You may ask for an e-mail address and telephone numbers to use for future contact, as well as an indication of whether the applicant wishes to be able to vote by post or by proxy. However, you must make it clear that the applicant is not required to provide this information. 

Under data protection legislation, an elector can object to the processing of their email or telephone contact details. To demonstrate that you are processing personal data lawfully and transparently you should maintain records to detail any request made under the right to object to processing. Your EMS provider may have the facility to record consent against elector records. 

Our data protection guidance for EROs and ROs provides further information on lawful processing and the rights of the data subject.

You should review all of your existing email templates and ensure that where you communicate by email, you include an unsubscribe option. The email ITR that you must use has been updated to include an unsubscribe option.

Applicants must make a declaration of truth.1 Once you have taken the required information you should read it back to the applicant, giving them an opportunity to review the information provided and satisfy themselves that it is true and accurate. 

If an applicant does not have all of the information to hand they can call back at a later time. When you collect the missing information, you should go through the same process of giving the elector general information about how their data will be used and alert them to the offence of making a false statement. A declaration of truth must also be made to cover the missing information and you should give the applicant an opportunity to review the information supplied and correct any errors.

Last updated: 23 June 2023