Registering to vote and new voter ID requirements

Your vote matters

Your vote matters, make sure it counts. If you don’t register to vote you won’t get the chance to have a say on who represents you. Some people also register to vote because they want to apply for credit. This is because credit reference agencies use the register to check where someone lives when they apply for credit in order to prevent fraud.

Not only will you not be able to have a say at future elections and some referendums, but if you don’t respond to requests for information from us you could be at risk of getting fined £80.

Voter ID required for voting at elections

The Elections Act 2022 introduced the requirement for voters in Great Britain to show photo identification to vote in polling stations at elections.

Voters who do not produce valid photo identification or a Voter Authority Certificate will not be allowed to vote in person on the day.

Find out which forms of photo identification will be accepted.

How to register to vote

Registering to vote has never been easier. The form is simple to complete – just fill in your name, address, date of birth, nationality, your national insurance number if you have one and a few other details.

The quickest way to apply is online at Register to vote - GOV.UK

If you don’t have access to the internet you can use computers in local libraries, internet cafes, the Customer Service Centre at the Town Hall or we can send you a paper registration form to fill in and post back. If you need assistance, we can also complete an over-the-phone registration.

Who can register to vote?

Nationality - To qualify you must be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of another European Union Member State. 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.

Nationality is regarded as passport(s) held (or the right to hold a passport). Indefinite leave to remain does not alter nationality.

If you are not sure if this includes you please see our list of eligible nationalities.

Age - Only those aged 18 or over can vote but you can register if you are 16 or 17.

Residence - You must be resident in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for at least 6 months of the year and live at the address when you apply to register. You cannot register before moving to an address. British citizens living overseas can register to vote for UK Parliamentary elections only.

Voter registration for the Armed forces (Service voters)

Members of the armed forces and their partners may register as service voters, or they can register as ordinary electors. If you register as a Service Voter, you will only have to re-register every five years and the Electoral Services team will write to remind you when re-registration is required.

To apply please visit Register to vote - GOV.UK.

Voter registration for Crown Servants

Crown servants working abroad and their partners, can register by completing the Crown servant online application form.

Voter registration for British Citizens living overseas

British Citizens living abroad can vote in a UK Parliamentary Elections only and can register by completing the Overseas Electors online application form. They can remain registered for up to 15 years after they last appeared on the register of electors in the United Kingdom.

To apply please visit Register to vote - GOV.UK.

Voter registration for students

If you're a student, you may be able to register to vote at both your home address and your term-time address. However, this does not necessarily mean that you can vote more than once in elections taking place on the same day.

Being registered at both your home address and your term-time addresses doesn't necessarily mean you get two votes.

You will need to choose one address and vote in only that area when you're voting in:

  • UK Parliament elections
  • UK referendums
  • London Assembly and London Mayoral elections.

You can't vote at both your term-time address and your home address at these elections. Voting in more than one location is a criminal offence.

For other elections you can vote at both your term-time and your home address.

You can choose to vote in either or both areas (if the addresses are in different council areas) when you're voting in Local council elections in England and Police and Crime commissioner elections and mayoral elections.

Make sure you understand the rules for the election you are voting in. To apply please visit Register to vote - GOV.UK.

Other voter registration options

For more information about other voting registration options such as registering as a person with no fixed address or you are part of the gypsy or travelling community please visit the Electoral Commission website.

Anonymous registration

If you feel that having your name on the register of electors may put you at risk, you can apply to be entered anonymously.

Some people feel that being on the register could affect their safety. For example, they register anonymously if they are escaping from domestic violence or have a job that requires them to keep their identity private  

If your application is accepted, your name and address will not be shown. Any person living with you can also apply to vote in this way.

If you are an anonymous elector or you are about to register as one and you wish to vote in person at an election, you will also need to apply for an Anonymous Electors Document ahead of polling day.

How to apply for anonymous registration

You will need to complete a form giving the reason you are applying for anonymous registration.

The law says you must provide documentary evidence in the form of a court order or injunction. Any court order or injunction must be for the protection or the benefit of you or another person in your household.

If you do not have either of these, your application must be supported by one of the following people:

  • a police officer of or above the rank of inspector of any police force in the UK
  • the director general of the Security Service or the National Crime Agency
  • a director of adult social services or children’s services in England or a director of social services in Wales
  • any chief social work officer in Scotland
  • any director of social services of a Health and Social Services Board or executive director of social work of a Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland
  • any medical practitioner who is registered with the General Medical Council
  • any nurse or midwife who is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • a person who manages a refuge (a ‘refuge’ means accommodation together with a planned programme of therapeutic and practical support for victims of, or those at risk of, domestic abuse or violence)

Nobody else may attest an application for anonymous registration.

For more information please visit Register to vote anonymously or contact the Electoral Services team on 020 7361 3444.

The register

The law makes it compulsory to provide information to an Electoral Registration Officer for inclusion in the electoral register. The details you are likely to have to provide are your name, address, national insurance number, nationality and age.

There are two versions of the register:

  1. The electoral register (the full version)
  2. The open register (an edited version)
What is the electoral register?

The electoral register is published once a year and is updated every month. It is used by Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers across the country for purposes related to elections and referendums. Political parties, MPs and public libraries may also have the electoral register.

It is also used by local authorities for their duties relating to security, law enforcement and crime prevention, for example checking entitlement to council tax discount or housing benefit. It may also be used by the police for law enforcement purposes. The courts use the register to summon people for jury service.

It can be sold to government departments to help in their duties such as the prevention or detection of crime. They can also use it for vetting job applicants and employees if this is required by law. Credit reference agencies are allowed to buy the full version of the register so that lenders can check the names and addresses of people applying for credit and carry out identity checks to help stop money laundering.

It is a crime for anyone who has a copy of the electoral register to pass information from this register onto others if they do not have a lawful reason to see it.

The full version can be viewed under supervision by anyone. This can only be done at Kensington Central Library by appointment and only handwritten notes can be made.  The register is listed in address, not name order. The full register is also provided to various organisations according to their legal entitlement. These bodies include elected representatives such as councillors, registered political parties, the Electoral Commission, the Court Service and the British Library.

What is the open register?

The open register or edited register, contains the same information as the full register but is not used for elections or referendums. It is updated and published every month and can be sold to any person, organisation or company for a wide range of purposes. It is used by businesses and charities for checking names and address details; users of the register include direct marketing firms and also online directory firms.

Can I ‘opt out’ from the open register?

Your details will be included in the open version of the register unless you ask for them to be removed.  

Please send an email requesting removal of your name from the open register to [email protected] or write to us at Electoral Services, Town Hall, Hornton Street, W8 7NX. Your email will need to include your name and address.

Removing your details from the open register will not affect your right to vote.

Should you wish later to opt back into the open register, please write to us again and we will add you back on.

How do I remove a name from the electoral register?

If you have moved address, registering to vote at the new address will move your registration to the new property.

If someone is registered at your address and now needs to be removed, contact the electoral services team by letter or email, and provide the details of the name, address and reason for removal. Once we receive confirmation that person is no longer living at your address, we will remove the entry from the register on the next publication date.

Please note that your name will be removed from the current version of the open register only. It cannot be removed from any previous version.

When will your name be added to the electoral register?

We usually publish an updated version of the electoral register on the first working day of each month. If you want to be added to the register in time for its next publication date, you need to return your registration form to us before the deadline for that month. Deadline dates for adding your name to the register can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

Privacy notice for Electoral Services

The Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer are data controllers who collect and use information about residents, candidates, election agents and election and electoral registration staff to enable us to carry out specific functions for which we are statutorily responsible.

The Privacy Notice for Electoral Services sets out how Electoral Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea will use and process your information.

Last updated: 18 July 2023