Registering to vote FAQs
Frequently asked questions about voting and registering to vote
- How soon will my name be added to the Register?
Names cannot be added to the register immediately as the law specifies when the register can be updated. Please note these rules change during the run up to an election, when you will be able to register up to twelve working days before polling day.
Deadlines for adding names to the register:
- How do I find my National Insurance number?
A National Insurance number is a reference number used by government. The easiest place to find your National Insurance number is on official paperwork, such as your National Insurance card, payslips or letters from the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Students may be able to find it in their university registration details or application for student loan.
If you still can’t find it, you can use the HMRC enquiry service.If you don’t have access to the Internet you can call the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on 0300 200 3500.
Please be aware HMRC won't tell you your National Insurance number over the phone, they'll post it to you. Alternatively, you can write to:
HM Revenue & Customs, National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office National Insurance Registrations, Benton Park View, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1ZZ
Most people in the UK have a National Insurance number. If you do not have one, you will be asked to explain why you are unable to provide it. The Electoral Services team may contact you to ask you for proof of identity.
- What if i don't know my date of birth?
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. The Electoral Services team may contact you to ask you for proof of identity.
- Why are there 2 Registers?
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 – and for other limited purposes specified in law. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.
- Who uses the electoral register?
- Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes.
- Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision. A copy is also held by the Electoral Commission, the Boundary Commissions (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics.The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the laws and preventing crime.
- The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement.
- The register is used when calling people for jury service.Government departments may but the register form local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applicants and employees.
- Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.
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. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data protection legislation.
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 would not affect your right to vote.
- Who uses the open register?
Users of the open register include:
- Businesses checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop online.
- Businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers.
- Charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other.
- Charities, to help with fund raising and contacting people who have made donations.
- Debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors.
- Direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists.
- Landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants.
- Local councils when identifying and contacting residents.
- Online directory firms to help users of the websites find people, such as when reuniting friends and families.
- Organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies.
- Private sector firms to verify details of job applicants.
- Who will have access to my details on the register?
The full electoral register can be viewed under supervision by anyone. This can only be done at Kensington Central Library by appointment. 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 included elected representatives such as councillors, registered political parties, the Electoral Commission, the Court Service and the British Library.
- How do I tell you that I want to be included or not included on the open register?
Please send an email to email@example.com or write to us at Electoral Services, Town Hall, Hornton Street, W8 7NX.
You will need to give us your name and address and tell us whether you want to be included or excluded from the open register.