Frequently asked questions - voter ID
Why has voter identification been introduced in polling stations?
We have always had a verbal identity check in the polling station. As part of the Elections Act 2022, photographic identification was introduced as an added security measure.
What will be acceptable identification in polling stations?
A voter must present one of the following forms of photographic identification in order to vote in person at the polling station:
- Passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
- Photographic driver’s licence issued by the UK, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state (including provisional)
- National identity card issued by an EEA state
- Biometric immigration document
- An identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (PASS card)
- Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
- A Blue Badge
- Older Person’s Bus Pass
- Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- Oyster 60+ Card
- Freedom Pass
- Scottish National Entitlement Card issued in Scotland
- 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- Disabled Person's Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person's SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland
- Voter Authority Certificate
- Anonymous Electors Document
Why are certain Work/Student Passes and Railcards not accepted?
Work/Student Passes: Given the wide array of professional and educational organisations that provide photographic identification, it would not be difficult to create a form of identification for a non-existent organisation meaning these would be susceptible to fraud. However, some student cards are PASS accredited, and so would be accepted (e.g. the National Union of Students ‘TOTUM’ student card). All accredited PASS cards bear the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram.
Railcards: While a Railcard is considered a concessionary travel pass, your identity is not sufficiently verified as part of the application process. This is also the case for the 18+ Oyster card (unlike the 60+ Oyster card, which has more rigorous processes).
Will photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents be accepted?
No, neither photocopies or images of identification documents will be accepted as photo-editing software could have been used to edit them.
Some supporting documents for a name change, such as a wedding certificate, may be ‘certified copies’ and will be accepted in polling stations for the purpose of demonstrating a name change.
My photographic identification has expired, what do I do?
If your photographic identification has expired it will still be accepted so long as the photograph is still of good likeness of you, unless it is a temporary Voter Authority Certificate which is only valid for use on polling day.
My name on the electoral register is different from the name on my photographic identification, what do I do?
The decision on whether an identification document bearing a different name or an alternative spelling of a name from the one on the register can be accepted will be at the discretion of the polling station staff, who must be satisfied that the identification provided is acceptable.
If your name has changed, for example through marriage, you may be required to provide further proof of identity, such as a marriage certificate, providing evidence of a name change.
Can I have my photographic identification viewed in private?
There will be a privacy screen in each polling station which will allow voters wishing to have their form of identification to be viewed in private to do so.
We will provide a mirror in polling stations to assist people who wear face coverings to remove them for the purposes of checking identification (and specifically to provide reassurance that they have been properly replaced following the check).
If an elector refuses to comply with the voter identification check, they will not be given a ballot paper and will not be able to vote in the polling station.
Can I have my photographic identification viewed by a poll clerk of a specific gender?
It is not a mandatory requirement for a Returning Officer to provide a poll clerk of a specific gender in polling stations. However, you may be more comfortable requesting a poll clerk of a specific gender to view your photographic identification. The Presiding Officer will accommodate this request where possible.
What happens if I cannot provide acceptable photographic identification at the polling station?
If you arrive at a polling station with no acceptable photographic identification, we will be unable to issue you with a ballot paper. You will be asked to leave and return with appropriate identification.
The Presiding Officer will make the decision on whether to issue you with a ballot paper. Electors will not be able to appeal this decision on polling day.
What do I do if my identification is lost, stolen or damaged close to polling day?
In the unfortunate event that all forms of photographic identification are lost, stolen, or damaged, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate provided the deadline has not passed.
If the deadline has passed to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate, you may be able to apply for an emergency proxy up to 5pm on polling day.
Will I need to provide supporting evidence when requesting an emergency proxy for lost identification?
You will not need to provide any evidence or attestation to support your request for an emergency proxy in these situations. You will need to provide a reason why you need an emergency proxy and make a declaration.
I am a proxy voter, will I need to show identification for the elector on whose behalf I am voting?
As a proxy voter, you will need to produce your own photographic identification in the polling station in order to show that you are the named proxy. You will not need to produce the identification of the elector on whose behalf you are voting. If you are a proxy voter and you do not have acceptable photographic identification, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.
I am an emergency proxy voter, will I need to show identification for the elector on whose behalf I am voting?
As an emergency proxy voter, you will need to produce your own photographic identification in the polling station in order to show that you are the named proxy. You will not need to produce the identification of the elector on whose behalf you are voting. The emergency proxy must already have acceptable photographic identification.
Will I have to show photographic identification to hand in a postal vote?
No. You will not need to show any form of identification in order to hand in your own or another person’s postal vote.
Will my poll card look different?
Yes. There will be additional information on the Poll Card regarding voter identification requirements and details. Due to this, the Poll Card may be bigger or enclosed in an envelope.
What can I expect when I attend a polling station to vote in person?
You will go to the desk and give the Poll Clerk your name and address. They will ask you to provide your photographic identification. They will then give you your ballot paper(s). Take your ballot paper(s) to a voting booth. Read the instructions in the booth and mark your ballot paper(s), fold them once so that nobody can see how you have voted. Then put your folded ballot paper(s) into the appropriate ballot box(es).
I no longer want to vote in person at a polling station, what are my options?
If you do not want to vote in person at a polling station, you can apply to vote by post. This means that you will be sent a postal ballot pack before the election. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm 11 working days prior to an election.
What is a Voter Authority Certificate?
If you do not possess acceptable forms of photographic identification, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.
What will a Voter Authority Certificate look like?
The Voter Authority Certificate is an A4 sized, paper-based document displaying the elector’s full name and photograph, the date of issue, the issuing local authority, an appropriate identifier, and a recommended renewal date (10 years after the date of issue). It will also contain inherent security features. Some of these features will be visible, such as the inclusion of a watermark.
Will my Voter Authority Certificate expire?
Voter Authority Certificates will not have an expiry date but will include a recommended renewal date. The Voter Authority Certificate is only valid as long as the photograph remains a good likeness of you. We recommend that you apply for a new document after 10 years of the issue date; in line with passport and driving licence regulations.
How can I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
You can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate online, by post, or in person. Application forms are also available online to download and print. We will accept scanned copies of applications for Voter Authority Certificates via email. Paper applications may also be posted or handed in to the Council Offices. Please note, you must also be registered to vote in order to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.
You will be asked to provide:
- Your full name
- Your address at which you are registered
- Overseas electors and service voters will need to provide their declaration and present address
- Your Date of Birth
- Your National Insurance number
- A close-up photograph of your head and shoulders
- Anonymous electors will need to indicate that they have (or have applied for) an anonymous entry on the register.
- Applicants will also be asked if they need to collect their document rather than have it delivered, and to give a reason why.
- Applicants will need also to declare that the information is provided is true, and applications will be dated.
What will the photo requirements be for Voter Authority Certificate applications?
The photo requirements are similar to passport requirements. You must be facing forwards, with no other objects or people in the photo, not wearing sunglasses or head coverings (with the exception of head coverings for medical or religious reasons), with no glare or shadows over the face and be against a light, neutral background.
What if I am unable to take a digital photo to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
If you are unable to provide a digital photo, then you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate via a paper application form and provide a physical photograph with that application. An online application cannot be made if you do not have (or cannot take) a digital photo. If you are unable to take a photograph yourself, you can call or email our Contact Centre to arrange for them to make the application with you.
Do I have to be on the electoral register to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
You will need to be registered to vote in order to be issued with a Voter Authority Certificate. However, you will be able to submit an application for a Voter Authority Certificate at the same time as you submit an application to register to vote – you will not need to wait for the registration to be confirmed first.
Can I use my Voter Authority Certificate as ID outside of the polling station?
No. The Voter Authority Certificate will only be accepted as photographic identification for the purposes of voting.
How will I receive my Voter Authority Certificate?
Voter Authority Certificates will be printed centrally and will be delivered to your registered address by Royal Mail. It is estimated that approved Voter Authority Certificates will be printed within 1-2 days, and then delivered by first class mail.
I have moved house; do I need to apply for a new Voter Authority Certificate?
Although you will need to register to vote at your new address, you will not need to request a new Voter Authority Certificate. You will be able to use your Voter Authority Certificate in all polls across Great Britain – not just in the local authority that issued the Voter Authority Certificate.
When can I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
You can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate at any time.
What happens if I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate after the deadline?
If you apply for a Voter Authority Certificate after the deadline, it will not be processed in time for polling day. However, your application will be processed after the election and a Voter Authority Certificate will be sent to you so that you can participate in future polls.
What happens after I have made an application for a Voter Authority Certificate?
When applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, you will need to provide evidence identifying yourself – initially through providing your date of birth and National Insurance number. These details will then be matched against the Department for Work and Pensions’ records in order for your identity to be verified.
If these details are either not provided or do not match against the Department for Work and Pensions’ records, then we will be in contact to request some documentary evidence or an attestation so that we can manually verify your identity.
Electoral Services will determine whether a Voter Authority Certificate can be issued after checking that the applicant is both eligible and registered to vote.
What documents can I provide to help you verify my identity?
You may be asked to provide additional evidence to prove your identity for a Voter Authority Certificate application, documents such as a:
- Birth, adoption, marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Firearms certificate
- Non-photocard UK driving licence, or a driving licence granted other than in the UK or Crown Dependencies
- Record of bail
- Financial statement (such as a mortgage, bank or building society, credit card or pension statement)
- Council tax letter or statement
- Utility bill
- P45 or P60
- Benefits statement
Why can I not provide a passport or driver’s licence as additional evidence to verify my identity?
As these existing documents can be used as identification at a polling station, an application for Voter Authority Certificate would not usually need to be made. There are two exceptions to this:
- Where a passport or driving license photo is no longer a true likeness and would be refused at a polling station so a Voter Authority Certificate is required.
- A passport and/or driver’s licence will be accepted as proof of identity if applying for an Anonymous Elector’s Document, however, as Anonymous Electors can only use an Anonymous Elector’s Document in order to vote in person - they cannot use a form of identification with their name on it in the polling station.
Can I check the status of my online application for a Voter Authority Certificate?
No. You will not be able to check for updates. You must direct all queries regarding applications to the Electoral Services Office. We will contact you to inform you whether your application has been approved or rejected.
Why has my application for a Voter Authority Certificate been rejected?
Your application for a Voter Authority Certificate may have been rejected if the Electoral Registration Officer has determined you are not eligible, not registered to vote, or has not been able to successfully verify your identity.
I have not received my Voter Authority Certificate, what do I do?
We advise that you contact the Electoral Services Office if you have not received your Voter Authority Certificate within 10 days of application and no later than 6 working days before an election.
If I am issued with a temporary Voter Authority Certificate, do I have to re-apply for a permanent Certificate?
No. Temporary Certificates will only be issued if there is a problem with you receiving your permanent Certificate. If your permanent Certificate is late in the post, it should arrive after polling day.
I am registered as an anonymous elector; how do I vote in person at a polling station?
You will need to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document if you choose to vote in person, please contact us for further information. This is the only form of identification that you will be able to use in the polling station because your name does not appear on the electoral register. You will need to provide a photo as part of your application for an Anonymous Elector’s Document.
You must present your Anonymous Elector’s Document in addition to your poll card in order to vote in person at a polling station. The electoral register number on the Anonymous Elector’s Document must match the electoral register number shown on your poll card to be accepted.
Can I use my Anonymous Elector’s Document anywhere?
Unlike Voter Authority Certificates, an anonymous elector registered in two or more locations, or one who has moved local authority, will require a different Anonymous Elector’s Document for each location. This is because the electoral register number displayed on the Anonymous Elector’s Document will be unique to each local authority. Anonymous electors will need to make separate applications to each of the relevant local authorities.
I have lost my Anonymous Elector’s Document, what do I do?
If your Anonymous Elector’s Document has been lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged you must contact the Electoral Services Office as soon as possible.
Frequently asked questions - voter ID
- Electoral registration query
- Electoral absent voting query
- Make Electoral register amendments
- Upload electoral documents
- Register to vote on Gov.uk
- Apply for a Voter Authority Certificate
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