Register by 26 November to vote in December's general election – here's what you need to know
Anyone planning to vote in December's general election has until Tuesday 26 November to register to do so if they haven't already.
The election will take place on Thursday 12 December, but you only have until Tuesday 26 November to register to vote in the general election if:
- You're a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen aged 18 or over who is currently living in the UK.
- You're a British citizen aged 18 or over who's living abroad and has been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years.
Simply being eligible to vote doesn't mean you're actually able to. Nobody is automatically registered to vote, though if you've registered previously and haven't changed your address, name or nationality, you should still be on the electoral roll.
If you do need to register, the process is simple – you can do it in five minutes online, but you must do it by 11.59pm on Tuesday 26 November, otherwise you won't be able to vote in the general election.
In addition to giving you a vote, registering boosts your chances of getting credit, as lenders can use the electoral roll to check out potential borrowers. See our Credit Scores guide for more info.
How do I register to vote?
To register, use the official Government website. You may need the following, if you have them:
- Your national insurance number.
- Your passport if you're a British citizen living abroad.
If you prefer to register by post and you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can download a registration form. You'll then need to post the form to your local electoral registration office. The form needs to be received by 5pm on Tuesday 26 November.
If you live in Northern Ireland and want to register by post, you'll need to fill in this registration form and return it to: The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, St Anne's House, 15 Church Street, Belfast, BT1 1ER. The form needs to be received by 5pm on Thursday 21 November.
To avoid spam, opt out of the 'open register'
There are actually two versions of the electoral roll:
- The full electoral register, which is used when you vote.
- The so-called open (or edited) register, which is available for companies to buy.
The open register is simply a public version of the electoral register. Anyone can buy it – even you could, if you wanted – but it's mostly used by companies. This is because firms are able to buy all the details on the open register – critically, the names and addresses – to use for marketing purposes.
However, to vote you only have to be on the full electoral register – there's no requirement for you to be on the open register. So to avoid spam, make it clear when signing up that you only want to be listed on the full electoral register (there'll usually be a tick box within the registration form, but if unsure, check with your local electoral office). That way your details won't be shared with company marketing departments.
Registering to vote can boost your chances of getting credit
This isn't just about your right to vote – being on the electoral roll can have a positive impact on your credit file too.
Lenders use the full electoral register to check your personal details when you apply for credit – this is part of the credit check that they do when seeking to score you, and that you give them permission to do when you agree to their terms and conditions. If you're not on the electoral roll, it's much harder to get accepted for credit.
It's worth noting, you only need to be on the full electoral register for this, not the open register. See our Credit Scores guide for more info.
I'm not sure if I am registered – how can I check?
To find out if you are registered to vote, contact your local electoral registration office. Unfortunately, you can't check this online.
However, if you're not sure and not able to contact the electoral registration office to check, you can register again as a last resort – though the Electoral Commission says you should always check beforehand where possible. The electoral roll is 'deduped' by councils after the registration deadline, so you won't be registered to vote twice.
Where do I vote?
If you're registered to vote you should receive a polling card in the post in the next few weeks, which will tell you when and where you can vote. Unless you've registered for a postal vote, you'll be voting at a polling station.
Polling stations are usually in a hall or school, but if you're unsure where to go to vote, visit: Where is my local polling station?
Polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday 12 December.
If voting in England, Scotland or Wales, as long as you're registered on the electoral roll and go into the polling station and give your name and address, you'll be able to vote. But there's no harm in taking ID and/or proof of address.
Only voters in Northern Ireland have to take photo ID with them to a polling station. Accepted forms of ID include:
- Your passport.
- A driving licence from any European Union country or Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.
- An 'electoral identity card'.
- Certain Translink passes (full details here).
How do I change to vote by post or proxy?
If you're already registered to vote you can change the way you vote, for example by postal or proxy:
- Postal voting. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales and want to vote by post, a completed application form needs to be received by your local electoral registration office by 5pm on Tuesday 26 November. You won't need to give a reason for wanting a postal vote.
If you're a voter in Northern Ireland and you want to register for a postal vote, you'll need to submit a form explaining your reason for your decision to vote by post. The information you give may need to be confirmed by another person. The details and the relevant form to download can be found on this webpage.
The form needs to be sent to: The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, St Anne's House, 15 Church Street, Belfast, BT1 1ER. It'll need to receive your application form by 5pm on Thursday 21 November.
- Proxy voting. If you'll be unable to go to the polling station yourself (eg, if you'll be abroad) on Thursday 12 December but still want your vote counted, you can get a proxy vote. This means that you can get somebody else to vote on your behalf, as long as they're registered to vote and it's for a type of election they're allowed to vote in.
To get a proxy vote you'll need to apply by filling in a proxy voting application form by 5pm on Wednesday 4 December in England, Scotland or Wales. The form you'll need to fill in will depend on your reason for requesting a proxy vote. The form needs to be sent to your local electoral registration office.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you'll need to send the form to: The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, St Anne's House, 15 Church Street, Belfast, BT1 1ER. Applications for proxy voting need to be received by the relevant office by 5pm on Thursday 21 November.
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