Running electoral registration - Scotland

Photograph requirements

An application for a Voter Authority Certificate or an Anonymous Elector’s Document must also include a photograph which meets the following requirements.1

The photograph must be:

  • a close-up photograph of the head and shoulders of the applicant
    • without any other person visible
    • without any covering of the head unless worn for religious beliefs or medical reasons
  • in sharp focus and clear 
  • in colour and taken against a plain, light background
  • free from redeye, shadows which obscure the face, or reflections
  • undamaged 
  • a true likeness of the applicant, without amendment or manipulation 

The photo must show the applicant:

  • facing forward
  • with nothing covering the face – this includes any covering worn for religious reasons
  • looking straight at the camera
  • with a plain facial expression 
  • with eyes open and clearly visible (e.g., without sunglasses and not obscured with hair, etc.) 

Where the applicant indicates in their application that they are unable due to any disability to provide a photograph which complies with the requirements for the applicant to have a plain facial expression and for their eyes to be open and clearly visible, those requirements can be disregarded.2
Where the application is made on paper, in person or via telephone, the photograph supplied must be: 

  • at least 45 millimetres in height and 35 millimetres in width, and 
  • no larger than 297 millimetres in height or 210 millimetres in width

Where the application is made via the digital service, the photograph must be:

  • at least 750 pixels in height and 600 pixels in width, and 
  • contained in an electronic file in a standard format image such as JPEG, PNG or GIF which is no more than 20MB in size

How can photos be submitted?

Photos can be uploaded to GOV.UK when the application is made online. Guidance and an example photo will be available to support applicants in providing an acceptable photo.
Photos supplied with applications submitted on paper or by email will need to be scanned or downloaded and saved in a standard format image such as JPEG, PNG or GIF and then be uploaded to the EROP so that they can be added to the application. These photos must also meet the minimum pixel requirements and be of the right size and file type.
You will be able to crop or rotate photos in the EROP when you upload them using a fixed ratio to ensure the image is the correct size to be printed on the certificate.
Each photo in the EROP will need to be reviewed to check that the face is clearly visible, and it meets the photograph requirements.

How will photos be checked to ensure that they meet the requirements?

Photos provided as part of an online application that:

  • do not meet the minimum pixel requirements
  • are in an incorrect file type
  • are in a file that is too big or too small

will be rejected and applicants will be asked to upload an alternative photo.
If you receive a hard copy photo with a paper application that is not of a sufficient quality to be scanned, or a photo provided as an email attachment that: 

  • does not meet the minimum pixel requirements
  • is in an incorrect file type
  • is in a file that is too big or too small

you should contact the elector and ask them to provide a different photo of better quality and/or a photo which complies with the requirements above.

Managing submitted photos

There are steps you can take to ensure that photos are managed consistently and processed to maximise their usability:

  • before making a decision on the usability of a photo, you can test how the photo would appear on the Voter Authority Certificate or Anonymous Elector's Document by printing out an example copy
  • making use of the editing tool within the EROP to crop photos to remove objects that may appear in the background
  • use a panel of staff to make any challenging decisions by involving staff from the wider team or colleagues from your local authority, utilising expertise from other areas
  • establish a document which sets out how photos will be assessed and processed, which can be updated to include examples of decisions as they arise
Last updated: 23 March 2023