Local elections 2023: Everything you need to know about registering to vote & how to find your polling station

We have rounded up everything you should know about voting ahead of May local elections
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If you’re planning to vote in this year’s local elections, there’s a few things you need to think about before heading to the polling station. The pre-election voting period is currently underway which means your local councillors will be out and about campaigning for the next month.

But, to cast your vote in the May elections, you need to be on the electoral register. By registering on the electoral register you can vote in elections or referendums going forwards.

And you only have a few days to register if you want to vote in May. The deadline to register for the May 4 elections is on April 17 at 11.59pm.

From May 4, people voting in person at a number of elections including local and UK Parliament by-elections will also need to bring photo ID with them to cast their vote.We have rounded-up everything you will need to know to get registered and how to vote on the day.

Polling stationPolling station
Polling station

Who can register to vote

You must be aged 16 or over or 14 or over in Scotland and Wales. You must also be one of the following:

  • a British citizen
  • an Irish or EU citizen living in the UK
  • a Commonwealth citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission
  • a citizen of another country living in Scotland or Wales who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission
  • Check which elections you’re eligible to vote in.

You can vote when you’re 18 or over. If you live in Scotland or Wales, you can vote in some elections when you’re 16 or over. You normally only need to register once - not for every election. You’ll need to register again if you’ve changed your name, address or nationality.

What do I need to register to vote

To register to vote you need to visit the government website. You’ll be asked for your National Insurance number (but you can still register if you do not have one). After you’ve registered, your name and address will appear on the electoral register.

Deadline for registering to vote in the May 2023 elections

To vote in the May 4 elections, you need to be registered on the electoral roll by April 17 at 11.59pm.

A new requirement to provide ID to vote in elections will be introduced in 2023. Under the rules, voters must take any valid form of photo ID to the polling station in order to cast their vote. Valid ID’s include photographic driving licences, passports, biometric immigration documents and some concessionary travel passes.A new requirement to provide ID to vote in elections will be introduced in 2023. Under the rules, voters must take any valid form of photo ID to the polling station in order to cast their vote. Valid ID’s include photographic driving licences, passports, biometric immigration documents and some concessionary travel passes.
A new requirement to provide ID to vote in elections will be introduced in 2023. Under the rules, voters must take any valid form of photo ID to the polling station in order to cast their vote. Valid ID’s include photographic driving licences, passports, biometric immigration documents and some concessionary travel passes.

How to find my nearest polling station

To cast your vote you need to visit your local polling station and bring valid photo ID with you. If you need to check which polling station you should vote at, you can find your polling station using your postcode at WhereDoIVote.co.uk. All polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

Photo ID at polling stations

To vote in a number of elections from May 4, you will need to bring a photo ID with you. However, if you have not got any valid ID you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Types of elections requiring photo ID

  • UK Parliament by-elections
  • local elections in England (including councils, mayors, the Greater London Authority and parishes)
  • recall of MP petitions in England, Scotland and Wales
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales
  • neighbourhood planning referendums and Business Improvement District referendums in England
  • local authority referendums in England (including Council Tax increase referendums)
  • There are different rules if you vote in Northern Ireland.

Valid photo ID at elections

  • a UK or Northern Ireland photocard driving licence (full or provisional)
  • a driving licence issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands
  • a UK passport
  • a passport issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or a Commonwealth country
  • a PASS card (National Proof of Age Standards Scheme)
  • a Blue Badge
  • a biometric residence permit (BRP)
  • a Defence Identity Card (MOD form 90)
  • a national identity card issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • a Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card
  • a Voter Authority Certificate
  • an Anonymous Elector’s Document

How to vote without ID - Voter Authority Certificate

If you do not have a valid photo ID you can apply for a voter authority certificate. It is free of charge and you will just need a recent, digital photo of yourself and your national Insurance Number. However, if you are using this service, you will need to apply for your certificate ahead of the election using the government website.

You can still apply if you do not have a National Insurance number - you’ll need to provide other documents to prove your identity, for example, a birth certificate, bank statement and utility bill.

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