The electoral register

Right to vote

The right to vote is summarised below. There are two distinct electoral franchises.

Parliamentary franchise

Parliamentary electors

A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a United Kingdom parliamentary election in any constituency if on the date of the poll he or she:

  • Is registered in the register of parliamentary electors for that constituency;
  • Is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart);
  • Is either a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland; and
  • Is of voting age

A person is not entitled to vote as an elector:

  • More than once in the same constituency at any parliamentary election
  • In more than one constituency at a general election

Local government franchise

Local government electors (who may also vote in European and Scottish Parliamentary elections)

A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a local government election in any electoral area if on the date of the poll he or she:

  • Is registered in the register of local government electors for that area
  • Is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart)
  • Is a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of a member state of the European Union (EU citizens wishing to vote in European Parliamentary elections in the UK must complete the relevant form)
  • Is of voting age

A person is not entitled to vote as an elector:

  • More than once in the same electoral area at any local government election
  • In more than one electoral area at an ordinary election for a local government area which is not a single electoral area

Entitlement to be registered

A person is entitled to be registered in the register of parliamentary electors for any constituency or part of a constituency if on the relevant date he or she:

  • Is resident in the constituency or that part of it
  • Is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart)
  • Is either a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland; and
  • Is of voting age

A person is entitled to be registered in the register of local government electors for any electoral area if on the relevant date he or she:

  • Is resident in that area
  • Is not subject to any legal incapacity vote (age apart)
  • Is a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of the European Union and
  • Is of voting age

If your name is not on the electoral register and you think it should be, you can register online or contact the Electoral Registration Officer for an application form. 

Scottish elections

The voting age for Scottish elections has been permanently lowered to 16.

This means that if you’re 16 or over on 5 May 2016, you’ll be able to vote at the Scottish Parliamentary election (as well as future local government elections).

You just need to register first. It only takes a few minutes and you can do it online.

You’ll need to provide your date of birth and National Insurance number (you only need your National Insurance number if you are 16 or over), which you can find on official documents such as letters from HM Revenue and Customs. Get help if you have lost your National Insurance number.

Don’t worry - if you are not yet 16 you will not need your National Insurance number to register.

Special registration arrangements

Special arrangements apply for the registration of:

  • British citizens living overseas
  • Members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, their spouse or civil partner
  • Crown Servants or British Council employees or spouse or civil partner
  • Homeless or have no fixed address
  • Remanded in custody (not yet convicted of any offence)
  • Patient in a mental health hospital

For further details please call us on 0800 393 783 or e-mail ero@highland.gov.uk

European Union members states

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom*.

Citizens of the UK, The Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK.

Commonwealth and British overseas territories

Commonwealth countries

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada,  Dominica, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Cyprus, Rwanda, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu,  Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Although also EU member states, citizens of the UK, Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK.

British overseas territories

Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antartic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands.

In addition, any previous resident of Hong Kong who holds a British Dependent Territories, British Nationals (Overseas) or British Overseas passport also meets the nationality criteria for all elections in the UK.

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