Voting in the UK

Information on voting in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This page tells you how...

EU, Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK can register to vote in European and local council elections. They may not vote in UK parliamentary general elections. To be eligible to vote a person must be at least 18, however, they may register to vote from the age of 16.

Registering to Vote

Registration on the electoral register is done annually. A person can register to vote at any time of the year. Local councils send out registration forms each year between August and November. If a person receives a request for registration information they are legally obliged to respond. Not registering on the electoral register may affect a person's credit rating.

The registration form for the electoral register is also available online. Once the form has been filled in, print and sign it and send back to the local electoral registration office.

Once a person has registered to vote they receive a poll card by post before the elections. The poll card informs the person of where and when they can vote. On election day, it is not necessary to take the poll card to the polling station.

Note: Photographic identification is required in order to vote in Northern Ireland.

A person can check if they are registered to vote at their local electoral registration office. Contact details for local offices can be found by entering the postcode of the place of residence on the Your Vote Matters website.

How to Vote

There are three different ways to vote in the UK:

  • In person at a polling station
  • By post
  • By proxy

In person at a polling station

Polling stations are open from 07:00-22:00. Upon arrival, the person's name is confirmed on a list, and the voter receives a ballot paper. Voting takes place in a polling booth and the voter then places the completed ballot paper in the ballot box. The candidates' supporters, known as tellers, may ask for the voter's name and address outside the polling station. This is to find out who has or hasn't voted. The voter is not obliged to give them this information.

By post

All registered voters may choose to apply to vote by post. A reason to vote by post is not required (this does not apply to Northern Ireland).

By proxy

Voting by proxy is used by people who cannot physically be present at the polling station. It allows them to send someone to vote on their behalf. To vote by proxy, the person needs to fill in and sign an application form at least six days before the election date. In order to vote by proxy, the person must provide a reason, for example medical or employment reasons.