Register to vote

Individual electoral registration - FAQs

What is individual electoral registration?

Every individual is responsible for their own voter registration.

Individual electoral registration (IER) gives you the right and responsibility to register yourself, instead of giving the responsibility to a head of household. As such, it encourages people to take individual responsibility for their own vote.

IER allows for more convenient methods of registration, for example by internet. You must provide your National Insurance number and date of birth. This means the electoral register is more secure and more resistant to threats of electoral fraud.

Must I register and what happens if I do not register?

If the ERO has invited you to register to vote it is important that you respond. If you do not register, he will send you reminders through the post and someone will visit your home. At the end of this process he may send you a requirement to register; if you fail to do so without providing adequate reason why you have not, you may be fined £80.

Not being registered can also impact on applications for mortgages or mobile phones, since credit reference agencies use the register to validate applications.

How do I change my name on the register?

If your name has changed please contact the Electoral Registration Officer on 01835 825100.

I live overseas, can I register?

British citizens living abroad can vote in UK Parliamentary elections, but not in local elections or elections to the Scottish Parliament. British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years are not eligible to register to vote in UK elections. You can register as an overseas elector online with the local authority for the address where you were last registered in the UK.

I am a service voter, how do I register?

Members of HM Forces and their spouse or civil partner can register as an ordinary elector or they have the option to register as a service voter, you can do this online. A service declaration must be completed, which is valid for five years. Each unit of the services has designated one member of staff to be a Unit Registration Officer who will be able to provide further advice.

How do I find my National Insurance number?

A National Insurance number is a reference number used by government. The easiest place to find your National Insurance number is on official paperwork, such as your National Insurance card, payslips or letters from the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Students may be able to find it in their university registration details or application for student loan. If you still can’t find it you can use the HMRC enquiry service.

If you do not have access to the internet you can call National Insurance Registrations Helpline on 0300 200 3502. Please be aware that HMRC will not tell you your National Insurance number over the phone, they will post it to you.

I do not know my date of birth

If you do not know your actual date of birth, you may have been given an official one in the past and this can be used to register to vote. This can be found on paperwork, including a passport, adoption certificate, driving licence or naturalisation certificate. If you do not have one, you will need to explain why you are unable to provide it in your registration application.

Can you provide information in another format?

If you want to register to vote, you can register online, where you will find assistive technologies such as screen readers, or the ERO can send you an application to register form in another format.

How will I know if my online registration was successful?

You will be sent a letter by the ERO confirming that your registration was successful, or asking for more information if that is required. If you have provided your email address you may be contacted that way instead.

What is the open, edited, register?

Using information received from the public, electoral registration officers keep two registers the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications.

The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.

Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

Change your open register choice

Contact us online, the ERO will write to you once we have changed your open register status. The letter will confirm the change we have made and will tell you when a new version of the register reflecting your request will be published.