How do I register to vote in the 4 July 2024 general election?

<span>The deadline to register to vote is 11.59pm on 18 June.</span><span>Composite: Getty/Guardian Design Team</span>
The deadline to register to vote is 11.59pm on 18 June.Composite: Getty/Guardian Design Team

Who is eligible to vote in a general election?

To vote in a UK general election you must:

  • Have registered to vote by midnight on 18 June.

  • Be 18 or over on the day of the election.

  • Be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen.

  • Be resident in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has registered to vote in the UK.

  • Not be legally excluded from voting, eg prisoners serving a sentence for a conviction or peers in the House of Lords.

You also need to be on the electoral register.

How do I get on the electoral register?

The deadline to register to vote is 11.59pm on 18 June.

The forms can be completed online. You may need details of your national insurance number and your passport if you’re a British citizen living abroad, and want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales.

You only have to register once. But you will need to re-register if you have changed your address, name or nationality since you first registered.

In England and Northern Ireland, you can register to vote once you are aged 16. In Scotland and Wales you can register once you are 14. But you can’t vote in a general election until you’re 18.

If you have any doubts whether you are registered to vote, you should contact your local electoral registration office. You can use this service to find the address if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland, you need to contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI).

Do I need a fixed address to vote?

No. You can still register to vote if you are homeless or have no fixed address. There are additional forms to fill in – you can find the instructions here. You are also eligible if you have been remanded in custody but have not yet been convicted of any offence, or if you are a patient in a mental health hospital.

Can I vote if I have lived abroad for more than 15 years?

Yes. For the first time, British citizens living abroad are eligible to vote regardless of how long they have been living outside the UK.

The law changed in January after a decades-long campaign by now-deceased Harry Schindler and latterly by British in Europe but voters must register before midnight on 18 June

The Electoral Commission said more than 100,000 have registered since January but there have been estimates that up to 3m British people live long-term overseas.

Applicants need to provide details of the address and time they were last registered or resident in the UK even if they have never voted before.

Applications to vote by post or proxy in Great Britain can now also be made online.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm 19 June and to apply for a proxy vote – enabling someone else to physically visit the polling booth for you – is 5pm 26 June.

Details of your former local authority can be found on the Electoral Commission website by entering the postcode of the last place you lived in the UK.

Do I need to show ID?

Yes. Voters across the UK now need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections, including a general election. Here is the list of acceptable forms of photo ID, which includes:

  • Passports

  • Driving licences

  • Older or disabled person’s bus passes

  • Oyster 60+ cards

Further details about eligible photo ID in each country of the UK are available on the Electoral Commission’s website.

If you are registered to vote but don’t have the correct photo ID, or you no longer look like your photo, you can apply for a free document called a voter authority certificate. You can apply by post or online, using this form, and the deadline is 5pm on 26 June.

After this deadline, you can apply for an emergency proxy vote until 5pm on polling day, but only if your ID has been lost, stolen or damaged, or if you have a medical emergency or are away for work.

In Northern Ireland, voters can use the electoral identity card.

I’m a student. Where do I register to vote?

If you are a student you can register to vote at both your home and term-time addresses. But remember, in a general election it is illegal to vote more than once. For tactical reasons, you might decide it is better to vote in one location or the other – for example, you might usually live in a marginal seat, and your university address might be in a safe seat, or vice versa.

What do I do if I can’t vote in person in England, Scotland or Wales?

There are two ways to vote if you can’t be there to vote in person on the day of an election: a postal vote or a proxy vote. To apply for a postal or proxy vote you must already be registered to vote and on the electoral roll.

Voting by proxy
A proxy vote means someone can vote on your behalf. Anyone can act as your proxy provided they’re registered to vote and allowed to vote in the same type of election.

In England, Scotland and Wales, you need to apply for a proxy vote by 5pm on 26 June to vote in the general election. There are different forms to fill in depending on the reason you want the proxy vote, which can be:

  • You’ll be away.

  • You’ll be at work.

  • You’ll be attending a course.

  • You’re disabled.

  • You’re living overseas.

  • You’re serving overseas as a member of the armed forces.

  • You’re a British Council employee or crown servant (for example, working in the diplomatic or overseas civil service).

Voting by post
Anyone registered to vote in an election can apply for a postal vote. You don’t need to give a reason. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales you need to fill in this form and then send it to your local electoral registration office by 5pm on 19 June 2024.

Voting by proxy or post in Northern Ireland
If you want to vote by post or by proxy in Northern Ireland, follow the instructions from the EONI.

• This article was amended on 13 June 2024. An earlier version said that “voters in England” now need to show photo ID at polling stations in general elections; in fact, this is a requirement across the UK.