Anyone planning to vote in the local elections on 5 May must register to do so by midnight tonight.

Nobody is automatically registered to vote and it has been estimated by the Electoral Commission that up to 7.5 million eligible voters are not registered, although the process couldn't be easier.

Doing so online takes about five minutes and by registering you are able to have your say on the elections for regional and local governments and police and crime commissioners, while four cities are also electing a mayor the same day.

Other than the obvious benefits that stem from being able to exercise your democratic right to vote, registering on the electoral roll can also improve your chances of being given credit by lenders. Read our Credit Scores guide for other tips on how to boost your credit rating.

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How do I register?

If you're aged 18 or over and live in England or Wales – or 16 and over and live in Scotland – you can register online on the Government website

If you live in Northern Ireland and have not registered yet, but would like to do so, your process is a little bit more complicated.

To register to vote in Northern Ireland, you need to download a voter registration form and send it to your local area electoral office. However, this will need to reach its destination today. More information is available on the Electoral Commission's website.

What information will I need to provide when I register?

You will need to provide your full name, date of birth, address and nationality. The only piece of information that might prove difficult to track down at short notice is your national insurance number – if you're not sure what your NI number is then you will be asked to provide proof of your identity and proof of your address.

Who is eligible to vote on 5 May?

If you're a British, Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen living in the UK and are over 18 (16 in Scotland) then you can vote in the local government and police and crime commissioner elections on 5 May.

But British citizens living abroad who are registered as overseas electors are not eligible to vote on 5 May.

To vote in the elections for the Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland or Welsh assemblies, you must be registered to vote in the appropriate country. You must also be a British, Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen and be aged over 18 (16 in Scotland).

Last chance to register to vote in the May local elections
People have until midnight tonight to register to vote in the May local elections

Is there anything else to consider?

Individual registration was made compulsory in 2014 after the introduction of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act and it has led to more young people dropping off electoral rolls.

Under the previous system, the 'head of the household' was required to register all residents of the property who were eligible, yet under the new system individuals are required to register themselves.

Meanwhile, students must now sign themselves up individually rather than being included in a hall of residence mass registration.

If I've registered to vote on 5 May will I be automatically registered to vote in the EU referendum?

If you've registered to vote in the local elections on 5 May, then you should be registered to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June.

The deadline for registering to vote in the EU referendum is 7 June.

One thing to consider for those looking to vote in the EU referendum is that if you move home – or return home from university – after registering to vote in the local elections on 5 May, you may wish to register again at your permanent address ahead of the EU membership vote.

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