Registering to vote
The electoral register
You can only vote at elections if you are on the electoral register for the area you wish to vote in. The electoral register is a list, put together and held by the council’s Electoral Registration Office, of everyone who has formally registered to vote. You must be on the register to vote at elections. You are not automatically registered, even if you pay Council Tax.
Entitlement to register
You are entitled to register as a parliamentary and local government elector if on the relevant date you satisfy the following conditions:
- You are a resident in the particular electoral area, or part of it; and
- You are not subject to a legal incapacity to vote, apart from age; and
- You are a qualifying British citizen, Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland (or the EU in the case of the European Parliamentary and local government elections, provided also that for EU citizens they are not legally disbarred from voting in their home country); and
- You are a person of voting age (18 years and over) or approaching voting age (over 16 years of age)
- View a list of Commonwealth countries and British Dependent Territories
- A list of EU countries appears on the voting rights of European nationals page
British nationals overseas
They are entitled to register for parliamentary election but not local government elections. British nationals living abroad can be registered for up to 15 years after leaving the UK. Complete an application form below and post it back to us or your local Embassy or Consulate.
- Electoral registration form for British nationals overseas - new applicants (PDF 120KB)
- Electoral registration form for British nationals overseas - renewal (PFD 98KB)
People living away from home due to attendance on a course can register at their home address. A person may also register at a temporary address if they are resident for more than six months. In practice, students may be registered at two addresses but can only vote at one.
16-18 year olds
From 16 years of age, you can apply to be on the electoral register, provided you also meet the rest of the conditions as shown above, although you cannot vote unless you are 18 years of age on or before polling day.
European Union citizens
Citizens of EU countries other than Britain, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus or Malta (who are already eligible to vote at all elections) please view voting rights of European nationals.
Service voters, Crown Servants, British council employees, and their spouses
Special registration arrangements apply to certain categories of people. Contact the Electoral Registration Office and let the staff know your circumstances and we will send you an appropriate registration form.
Homeless people who were unable to register because they had no fixed address, can now make a declaration of local connection - giving an address of, or nearest to, a place where the person spends a substantial amount of their time, for example a local day centre.
Patients in mental hospitals
Other than those who are held there because of criminal behaviour, patients in mental hospitals can now register to vote without the need to pass the additional test of making a patient's declaration.
Unconvicted or remand prisoners
They can now register in the establishment where they are held, if they are likely to be spending a long period remanded in custody. Convicted prisoners are still unable to vote.
How to register
To make registration easier, a new system of registration and rolling registration was introduced across the country in February 2001. You can now register to vote at any time. Changing address no longer means leaving your vote behind.
Rolling registration process suspended during annual canvass
Voters should be aware that the rolling registration process is suspended during the annual canvass, which is held each year from mid August until the end of November. During the canvass, each household in the borough is sent a registration form, which should be completed and returned to council’s Electoral Registration Office, to ensure that all eligible voters do not lose their right to vote.
A new register is then published on 1 December each year and this list remains in force until the end of November the following year. However, this list is then updated each month because people can now register at any time.
Two versions of the register
There are two versions of the electoral register - the full version and the edited version. Your details will appear on the full version of the register, but you can choose whether or not your details appear on the edited register.
The full register is used for elections, preventing and detecting crime, and checking applications for credit. The edited register is available for general sale and can be used for commercial activities such as marketing.
Although you now have the option of withholding your name from the edited register, you may find that your name is still included on mail marketing lists and you continue to receive unsolicited mail.
If you don't want to receive advertising mailings you should write to
The Mailing Preference Service
To check if your name is on the current register you can contact the staff at council’s Electoral Registration Office who will be able to check the current register or you can inspect the register yourself at the Electoral Registration Office.
The Electoral Services Office
Telephone 01922 652030 (from outside the UK +44 1922 652030)
Fax 01922 652040
This page was last updated on 22 October 2013