How to vote

Find out how to vote on polling day and what the new voter ID rules mean.

Voter ID requirements

To vote in person at a polling station, you will need to bring photo ID

Find out about the voter ID requirement on the Electoral Commission website.

Make sure you have an accepted form of identification.  

If you do not have a suitable photo ID, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate on the government website. The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate for this election is 5pm on Wednesday, 24 April. 

You can find more detailed information on this page.

Register to vote

The first step you must take is to register to vote.

You can only vote if you are:

  • on the electoral register
  • eighteen years or older on polling day
  • a British, Commonwealth, Irish or European Union citizen
  • not subject to any legal incapacity to vote, such as being in prison

Voting for EU citizens

If you are a European Union citizen - other than British or Irish citizens - you can only vote at local elections. You cannot vote at general UK parliamentary elections.

Voting when you live overseas

Read more information about registering to vote and voting if you are a British citizen resident overseas, a crown servant or are serving in the armed forces.

Voting at the polling station

Just before an election, you will be sent a polling card that tells you where and when to vote.  On election day, you go to the polling station to vote - usually a local hall or other public building such as a school in the area where you live.  Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on polling day.

When you arrive at the polling station, tell the election staff your name and address. You can take your polling card with you. The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper, which is a list of the people or parties you can vote for. The ballot paper will tell you how many votes you have. You can ask a member of staff at the polling station for help.

 

Filling in your ballot paper

No-one is allowed to see who you vote for, so make sure you vote in a polling booth, with a screen around it, so that you can vote in privacy. Put an X by the person or party you want to vote for. Fold your ballot paper, preferably in half, and put it in the ballot box.

If you make a mistake while marking your ballot paper, you should ask for a replacement paper. Your spoilt ballot paper will be taken from you and will not be placed in the ballot box.

Read more information about the voting process on the Electoral Commission website.

Voting if you have a disability

If you have a disability, your local electoral registration office can tell you about:

  • physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces
  • low-level polling booths
  • equipment for voters with a visual impairment

Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper and a special tactile voting device to help people with sight loss.

Other ways to vote

For more information on voting when you cannot vote in person, see our postal voting and proxy voting pages.

There are laws and security measures to prevent people illegally interfering with the elections. It is an offence to:

  • falsely apply for a postal or proxy vote
  • supply false information or fail to supply information to the electoral registration officer at any time
  • unduly influence someone, even if it does not affect the way they vote

Photo identification

From 4 May 2023 you will need to show photo ID when voting in person in some UK elections or referendums.

You will need it to vote in:

  • UK parliament by-elections
  • local elections in England, including councils, mayors, the Greater London Authority and parishes
  • recall of MP petitions in England, Scotland and Wales
  • police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales
  • neighbourhood planning referendums and business improvement district referendums in England
  • local authority referendums in England, including council tax increase referendums

Check if you have accepted photo ID

You will need one of the following types of photo ID to vote:

  • a UK or Northern Ireland photocard driving licence, full or provisional
  • a driving licence issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands
  • a UK passport
  • a passport issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or a Commonwealth country
  • a national proof of age standards scheme card
  • a blue badge
  • a biometric residence permit
  • a defence identity card – ministry of defence form 90
  • a national identity card issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • a Northern Ireland electoral identity card
  • a voter authority certificate
  • an anonymous elector’s document

You can also use one of the following travel passes as photo ID when you vote:

The photo on your ID must look like you. You can still use your ID even if it has expired.

If you are voting as someone’s proxy

You will need to take your own ID when you go to vote on someone else’s behalf. You do not need to take theirs.

If you have changed your name

The name on your ID must match your name on the electoral register. If it does not, you will need to either:

  • register to vote again with your new details
  • take a document with you to vote that proves you have changed your name, for example, a marriage certificate

Small differences do not matter. For example, if your ID says Jim Smith instead of James Smith.

If you do not have accepted photo ID

If you do not have a type of photo ID that allows you to vote, you can apply for a voter authority certificate.

It is free to apply. You will need:

  • a recent, digital photo of yourself
  • your National Insurance number

You can still apply if you do not have a National Insurance number. You will need to provide other documents to prove your identity, for example a birth certificate, bank statement and utility bill.

You can also complete and post a paper form to our electoral services team. If you need help to complete the form, you can discuss this over the phone or make an appointment to come and speak to us in person.