City, town and village > Procedures > Voting in the UK: How to Register and Vote In and Outside the UK


Elections in the UK: how to register and vote

Not everyone can easily find their way around voting regulations, especially if you are not a political fanatic. Considering that the UK parliament requires every citizen to register as a voter, it’s vital to know what you need to avoid facing penalties for defying this law. Take a look at the necessary steps you must take to register as a voter and where you can vote once you’re verified.

How to register and vote in the UK

Why should I vote?

Voting is a civil right of every British citizen. It’s important to exercise your vote if you want better leaders for the country’s growth. Voting is beneficial because it allows you to protect democracy; to get your voice heard; to change societal norm; to change social agendas and shape the economy; to hold leaders accountable; to protect human rights; and to have an impact on relations with foreign nations.

Type of elections

The UK has several elections that run within the five-year leadership tenure. Citizens can vote for their members of parliament during the elections. Members of the House of Commons and UK citizens can vote during the general elections. However, House of Lords members are restricted from participating in this exercise. If you’re a citizen, the types of elections you can participate in include:

  • • By-elections
  • • General election
  • • Local government
  • • Local mayors, the mayor of London, and the London Assembly
  • • Northern Ireland Assembly
  • • Police and crime commissioner
  • • Referendums
  • • Scottish parliament
  • • Welsh parliament

Is It Obligatory or Elective?

Voting in the UK is elective. Citizens have the right to choose whether they want to vote during all elections or if they will sit out the exercise. Every UK citizen must be on the register to vote. Anyone who is not on the voting register risks being fined £80.

Who can vote?

Voter registration in the UK is open to all citizens, whether by birth or immigration. You must be over 16 years old, and a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen. Residents from other countries can’t sign up as voters or vote in the UK.

To cast your vote, you must:

  • • Have been registered as a voter
  • • Have no legal restrictions deterring you from voting
  • • Hold a recognized ID
  • • Hold a poll card

How to register

You can register online. This electoral registration link allows you to sign up. You must complete the questionnaire on this page and obtain the necessary documents to register as a voter successfully.

Suppose you are not confident about signing up online. In that case, you can use the paper registration process and mail your form to your local electoral registration office to finalize the application process.

Processing Time and Cost

Completing your voter registration request takes five minutes. However, it takes 21 days to process this request and add your name to the voter register. It’s free to register as a voter, but if you fail to do so and are of British descent, you risk paying a fine each year you do not register.

Now I'm registered, how Can I Vote?

If you are a registered voter, you can vote in person, by proxy, or by post. You will receive a poll card telling you when and where you can vote. Visit your polling station, find the correct room, and vote for participants who stand for your values. If you find none on the ballot paper you want to vote for, you can spoil the ballot papers or cast a blank paper.

You can vote by post if you live abroad, but only if you register for this option. Once you receive the ballot paper, mark it, fill in the postal voting statement, insert it in the provided envelope and mail it to the UK electoral commission. If you can’t send it soon enough, present your ballot papers to the local polling station or electoral registration office before 10 pm and closing hours, respectively, on Election Day.

How to Cast Your Vote If You Live Abroad

Voters living abroad can use the mail option or vote by proxy. Aside from being registered voters, your representative must be able to access your voting room. They may have to contact the electoral registration office before Election Day for streamlining if they can’t.

Dates of Next Elections and What People Will Be Voting For

The last general election in the UK was on December 12, 2019. By law, the next general election will be held in 2024, five years later. You can check out the UK parliament website for finer details on particular dates.

How can I vote in the UK

You can also read:

- British Citizenship by Naturalisation

- British Citizenship through Marriage

- Police Certificate: how to get it in the UK