Registering to vote

If you are not already on the electoral register, you can register to vote in local, national and European elections as well as referendums if you are:

  • 16 or older (although you can not vote until you are 18 years old);
  • a British citizen;
  • an Irish, eligible commonwealth or European Union citizen living in the UK.

Please see the guidance below for different types of registration.

Changes to Postal and Proxy voting

The way you apply for a Postal and Proxy vote has now changed – 31 October 2023

Identity checking requirements

  • All absent vote applications (except for emergency proxy applications) made on or after 31 October 2023 must contain a National Insurance Number (NINo) or a reason why one cannot be provided.
  • The personal identifiers contained on the application (name, address, date of birth and NINo) must initially be verified against Department of Works and Pension (DWP) data.
  • Where an application fails to match with DWP data – electors will be required to provide documentary evidence to verify their identity. Where this is not possible, electors must submit an attestation to confirm their identity.

Online absent vote applications

From 31 October 2023 electors (except for anonymous electors) will be able to apply for most types of absent vote online via gov.uk.

Electors can apply for the following absent votes both online and through a paper application:

  • Postal vote
  • Proxy vote for a particular election or referendum
  • Proxy application for definite or indefinite period for overseas and service electors

Electors will not be able to apply for the following absent votes online but can continue to be applied for through a paper application :

  • Proxy postal application
  • Postal waiver application
  • Proxy application for definite or indefinite period due to disability
  • Proxy application for definite or indefinite period due to employment, service etc.
  • Emergency proxy application

Maximum period for absent vote applications

From 31 October 2023, a postal vote can be in place for:

  • a particular poll (poll held on specific date)
  • a definite period of not more than 3 years
  • a maximum period of up to 3 years

Electors applying for a postal vote from 31 October 2023 onwards will only be able to hold their postal vote until the third 31 January following the date on which their application was granted. Different rules will apply to overseas electors – for further information on how these changes impact overseas electors please contact the elections team on 01843 577500.

For electors with a long-term postal vote (in place before 31 October 2023) there will be transitional arrangements. Existing domestic electors will be able to vote by post for relevant polls until 31 January 2026.

Proxy voters can continue to put in place a proxy arrangement for an indefinite period (subject to a three yearly eligibility check and five yearly signature refresh). However, all existing proxy voters who have an arrangement in place before 31 October 2023 must reapply and make a fresh application by 31 January 2024.

You may be able to register anonymously if you are concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register because you think that it could affect your personal security.

You will need to:

  • explain why your safety (or the safety of someone in the same household as you) would be at risk if your name and address appeared on the electoral register, and
  • provide documentary evidence of a court order or an attestation from an authorised person to support your application.

How it works

If you’re registered anonymously, your name and address will not appear on the electoral register, and you won’t be included on any registration forms sent to your address.

A code will be added to the end of the section of the register for your polling district and the Electoral Registration Officer will contact you separately and in such a way as to not reveal that you are registered anonymously.

An anonymous registration application is valid for one year (from the date you are added to the electoral register as an anonymous elector). A renewal registration form will be sent to you by, and can be renewed for another 12 month period. Renewals must contain the same level of evidence as the original application.


You can register to vote as an overseas elector if you live permanently (more than six months a year) abroad. You should register with the local authority where you were last registered as an elector in the UK, within the last 15 years.

You may apply for a postal vote to be sent to your address abroad or appoint a proxy. Postal votes are sent out a week to 10 days before election, so please take this into account. The alternative is to appoint a family member or friend to be your proxy, and vote on your behalf. The overseas declarations must be renewed each year.

Crown servant

If you’re working outside the UK as a crown servant or an employee of the British Council, you can still register to vote. You can also register if you’re married to a crown servant or British Council employee, and are accompanying them during their employment abroad.

You may also vote by post or proxy.



If you or your spouse is a member of the forces you can register as a service voter. These declarations are valid for five years, and we’ll write to you at your service address to remind you to renew your application. Alternatively, you can register on the household form which is sent to every property in the district yearly.

The advantage of registering as a service voter is that you can appoint a proxy without having to get your application signed by your employer.



If you’re unable to register at a particular address because you’re either a patient in a mental hospital, a person remanded in custody, or homeless with no fixed residence, then you are entitled to register as an elector by making a declaration of local connection.

Declarations of local connection can be made at any time throughout the year, and must include details of where you would be living if you were not detained or a patient, or a place where you have resided in the past.  If you’re homeless, you must give details of where you commonly spend a substantial part of your time.

If you’re residing in a mental hospital or are in custody, you can only vote by post or proxy.


Help & support

Did you find this page useful?

  • This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.