Individual Electoral Registration - Frequently Asked Questions
The electoral registration system in Great Britain has changed. The new system is called Individual Electoral Registration or IER. This began on 10 June 2014 in England and Wales.
Previously, the head of household was responsible for registering everyone who lived at the address, but now every individual is responsible for their own voter registration. This is called Individual Electoral Registration (IER). The new system also means that people are now able to register online. Anyone newly registering under the new system will need to register themselves individually by filling out a paper or online form.
Most people who are currently registered to vote have been registered automatically under the new system. They do not need to do anything and will continue to be registered to vote as usual. We sent a letter in July 2014 to let these people know that they were registered under the new system.
A minority of people on the electoral register were not automatically registered under the new system. These electors were required to re-register under the new system, either with a registration form or online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
If you are not registered to vote, you can register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
If you received a letter saying you've automatically been registered you do not need to do anything, but if you move home in the future you should register again.
If you received a letter saying you need to re-register, its straightforward to re-register. You can go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and fill in the online form.
It is possible to check whether you're registered under the new system by contacting Electoral Services on 01283 508376 or email email@example.com.
Individual electoral registration 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.
The change has also allowed more convenient methods of registration, for example, by internet (or by telephone or in person if offered by your local authority). Because the new system asks you for a few more details before you are added to the register your National Insurance number and date of birth the electoral register will be more secure and more resistant to threats of electoral fraud.
The system was introduced by the UK government through the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 which became law on 31 January 2013. Electoral Registration Officers are implementing the change.
Most people already registered to vote were automatically registered under the new system so were not removed from the register. Some people were not automatically re-registered, but we wrote to them to let them know and included a registration form and envelope with the letter. Reminders and personal visits were also undertaken as appropriate. Even if they didn't respond, special arrangements have been put in place so they can still vote at all elections until December 2015. Eventually, all those who were not automatically transferred will need to re-register.
Voting processes haven't changed. However, if you want to vote by post or proxy you will need to ensure that you are registered under the new system. If you havent already applied to vote by post, you will need to do so by 5pm, 11 working days before an election.
If you haven't already applied to vote by proxy, the deadline is normally six working days before an election, apart from in the case of a medical emergency or if you are called away unexpectedly for work reasons, when you may be able to apply up to 5pm on polling day.
Most people were registered automatically under the new system. This happened because local electoral registration staff compared the names on their electoral registers to government records to confirm who people are. This has been done carefully through a secure system that has been tested thoroughly.
Some people could not be matched against government records and therefore could not be transferred automatically to the new register. For example, they may have moved home or changed their personal details since the record was last updated.
Some people have not been matched against government records and therefore cannot be transferred automatically to the new register. For example, they may have moved home or changed their personal details since the record was last updated. Your details have not been matched, but its straightforward to re-register. Visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
Online registration can take a few days to process, so its possible that the letter was prepared before your online registration was processed. You do not need to return the paper form if you have received confirmation that your online application has been received. We will contact you to confirm your registration.
If you have received a letter to say that you need to re-register to vote, it is important that you respond. You can register by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or by returning the form included with the letter. It is important that you re-register as soon as possible as you will lose your vote.
You will need to register under the new system to retain your postal / proxy vote. You can return the paper form included with your letter or you can register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
Everybody needs to register themselves. Its straightforward and quick and you can register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
If you are unable to register yourself, it's ok to get help filling in the details, but you must make the declaration yourself.
Instead of your old annual canvass form, you will receive a new type of form called a household enquiry form. You should use this form to confirm who lives in your home. If new adults aged 16 or over have moved in you should add them to the form, and if they have not registered we will send them an invitation to register.
You don't need to register again unless you change address. You should however return the form that you will receive every year that confirms who is living in your household. You should also inform us if any of your details (such as your name) change.
When you move home you need to register at your new address. You can do this at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
Normally people are registered at their permanent home address. Students may register at both their term-time and non-term-time address. If you are living somewhere temporarily but have a permanent address elsewhere, you should register at the permanent address.
If we have invited you to register to vote it is important that you respond. If you don't, we will send you reminders through the post and someone will visit your home. At the end of this process we 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.
If your name has changed you can complete a change of name form with your previous and new name and the date of the change. You will need to provide evidence to support the change of name, such as a marriage certificate or deed poll certificate (although there is a process if you can't provide this. Please contact Electoral Services on 01283 508376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
British citizens living abroad can vote in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections, but not in local elections or elections to devolved bodies such as the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Greater London Authority. 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 at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote with the local authority for the address where you were
Members of Armed Forces and their spouses or civil partners can register as an ordinary elector or they have the option to register as a service voter. You can register as a service voter by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. 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.
You can register to vote if you are: 16 years old or over and a British citizen or an Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK (except for service voters or overseas voters).
Seventeen-year-olds and some 16-year olds are entitled to be included on the register as attainers. They can vote once they are 18. For the referendum on independence in Scotland you need to be 16 or over vote.
To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to enter or remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a 'Commonwealth citizen' includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.
Citizens of the European Union (who are not Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Republic of Ireland) can vote in local elections in the UK, elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies (if they live in those areas) and some referendums (based on the rules for the particular referendum), but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections.
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.
If you don't have a National Insurance number, you will be required to provide proof of your identity and proof of your address, with your application. Please contact Electoral Services on 01283 508376 or email email@example.com for further information.
If you want to register to vote, you can can do so at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, which works with assistive technologies such as screen readers, or we can send you a application to register form in another format.
You’ll be sent a letter from local electoral registration staff confirming that your registration was successful, or asking for more information if that is required. If you have provided your email address or phone numbers, you may be contacted that way instead.
If anyone listed on the HEF is not living at your address, their name/s should be clearly crossed through.
You need to include the name and nationality of everyone aged 16 or over who is resident and eligible to register to vote. If there are no eligible residents, you should state why this is the case.
By law, you need to provide the information requested on the HEF. There is a criminal penalty for failing to provide the information required by the HEF to the Electoral Registration Officer of a maximum of £1,000. The penalty for providing false information to an Electoral Registration Officer is imprisonment of up to six months or a fine (on summary conviction) of a maximum of £5,000.
You are invited to include your email address and phone number on the HEF, but you do not have to. We will use this information only in connection with your registration, and it helps us to contact you if there is a problem.
You should complete and return the registration form or register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. The HEF is not a registration form, but instead provides us with information on who lives in your household. This means we can invite other residents to register to vote if we need to.
Using information received from the public, 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 (e.g. 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.