Running electoral registration - Scotland

How should an application from an overseas elector be processed? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

How should an application from an overseas elector be processed? (Pre commencement of Elections Act measures)

Acknowledging applications

There is no legal requirement for an application to be acknowledged, although you do have discretion to send an acknowledgement if you wish. In all cases, you are required to send a confirmation if the application is successful, as set out below.

Verifying applications

All applications and declarations should be processed and the applicant’s identity verified as soon as possible after receipt.

If you receive an application where the qualifying address falls outside your area you should forward it to the relevant ERO without delay.

Potential overseas electors who fail the DWP match must provide an attestation as to their identity. You must write to the applicant informing them that it has not been possible to verify their identity and ask them to supply an attestation.

You may wish to create a form which contains the necessary legal statements and requirements for the attestation. Alternatively, you may wish to set this detail out in the letter to the applicant. In all cases, you must communicate the legislative requirements for an attestation.1

The attestation must:

  • be in writing
  • confirm that the applicant is the person stated on the overseas elector application
  • be signed by a registered elector who is a British citizen living overseas and who is not the spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the applicant
  • state the full name, address and occupation of the person signing the attestation
  • state the attestor’s British passport number together with its date and place of issue
  • state the date on which the attestation is made

Persons attesting overseas applications should be registered electors who are a British citizens living overseas and may attest an unlimited number of applications.

You may wish to set a deadline date for the applicant to respond; this will be helpful when deciding to reject an application because no response has been received. The time given to applicants to respond is at the discretion of the ERO; however, it should allow the applicant reasonable time to source and return their attestation. You should consider whether to allow additional time for overseas electors, bearing in mind the distance the elector lives from the UK.

Confirming applications and declarations

If you have determined that an applicant is entitled to be registered, you must confirm to them in writing that their registration application has been successful.2
You should also include, alongside the confirmation letter, information on any absent voting arrangements that are in place. If no arrangements are in place you should make clear what their absent voting options are. 

If you have rejected a registration application, you must return the declaration, notify the applicant and inform them of the reasons why.3
Where an existing overseas elector has successfully renewed their declaration, there is no requirement to send them a confirmation notice. You may, however, still decide to send them further information confirming that their renewal has been successful, which you could do by e-mail. This communication could also include information on when their declaration will expire, how and when they will next be reminded to renew it, what absent voting arrangements they have in place and, if they have none, information on absent voting options.

You should make the elector aware of the general timings for dispatching postal votes ahead of an election and could advise the elector to appoint a proxy as an alternative if it is not realistic for their postal ballot pack to be dispatched, completed and returned before the close of poll. It is, of course, the elector’s choice as to which method of voting they prefer, but it is important that they can make an informed decision. Further information can be found in our guidance on absent voting

Last updated: 14 December 2023