Voting and registering to vote

Changes to voting in elections

The government is making changes to UK elections and the way we vote.

A new law called the Elections Act is expected to affect elections from 2023, for:

  • your local councillors
  • your Member of Parliament (MP)
  • the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex

Voter identification (ID)

The law will require you to show photo ID when you want to vote at a polling station. This could be an approved form of photo ID, such as a passport. Expired ID documents will be accepted if the photo is still a good likeness of you.

For a full list of approved forms of photo ID, go to GOV.UK: photo ID you'll need.

If you don't have an approved ID, you'll need to apply for a free 'Voter Authority Certificate' (VAC) – sometimes called a 'Voter Card' or 'Electoral Identification Document'. You can apply for a VAC either online or, if you live in the UK, by downloading, printing, completing and posting a form:

You'll need to show your approved photo ID or VAC at polling stations from May 2023 onwards.

Postal votes and proxy votes

If you apply to vote by post (postal vote) or by appointing someone to vote for you (proxy vote), you'll need to include proof of identity. Full details of this requirement are still to be set out in law. We'll provide more information when the new process and its start date are confirmed.

Postal voters will need to make a new application every 3 years, instead of a signature refresh every 5 years.

It's expected that voters will be able to apply online for a postal vote or a proxy vote through a government website from July 2023.

You'll only be allowed to hand in postal votes at a polling station for yourself, your family members or persons for whom you are a designated carer. In total, you won't be able to hand in more than 6 postal votes. Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling voters' postal votes.

You'll only be allowed to act as proxy for up to 4 people, of which no more than 2 can be based in the UK – that is, not overseas voters.

Support for people with a disability

From May 2023, there will be more support at polling stations for voters with disabilities.

Voters with a disability can be assisted in future by anyone over the age of 18 years-old.

British citizens who live abroad

The government is proposing that any British citizen living abroad who has previously lived in the UK, or been registered to vote in the UK, would have the right to vote at UK Parliamentary elections. Currently there is a 15-year limit.

British voters abroad would have to register every 3 years and refresh their application to vote by post or proxy at the same time. Currently overseas British voters must apply every year.

It's proposed that overseas voters will be able to register using an address either:

  • where they were previously registered
  • where they were last resident, even if they had not registered to vote while there

This change is expected to be in place for elections from May 2024.

EU citizens who live in the UK

The government is proposing that EU citizens who were living in the UK before 1 January 2021 would keep their right to vote and stand in elections.

Those who have arrived in the UK since 1 January 2021 would have these rights only if they are citizens of an EU country with which the UK has agreed the same rights for UK citizens – that is, a country with which the UK has a 'reciprocal arrangement'.

This change is expected to be in place for elections from May 2024.

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex

From May 2024, it is expected that the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex will be elected using a 'first past the post' system. That means the candidate who gets the most votes is the winner. You'll no longer be asked to make a second choice on the ballot paper.

More information

We won't be able to answer any questions about proposed changes until they are confirmed.

You can find out more about the proposals online at: