Voting by post
Anyone who is registered to vote can apply for a postal vote, you do not need a reason to vote by post.
There is now an Online Absent Vote Application system which is the quickest way to apply for your postal vote. If you would like to vote by post, you can now apply online at GOV.UK. As part of the measures introduced by the Elections Act 2022 you will now need to provide:
- Your date of birth
- A copy of your signature
- Your National Insurance Number
Providing your signature
When you apply online you will need to upload a clear version of your signature. If you are taking a photo, please ensure:
- The image of your signature is clear and in black ink
- There are shadows over the signature
- Your signature is on plain white paper
Steps for signing and uploading your image:
- Sign your name exactly as you normally would in black ink
- Use plain white paper with no lines, patterns and big enough for you to sign your name
- Find a well-lit area so that there are no shadows
- Hold your phone or camera over your signature making sure that it is captured in the picture
- Make sure there is nothing else in the picture such as personal photos, etc.
- Take your photo with a digital device such as a smart phone or tablet
- Save or transfer the photo to the device you are using to apply for your online postal vote
If you cannot provide a signature, we may grant you a waiver, which will mean that you will not be required to provide a signature. You may be eligible if you are:
- Unable to sign in a consistent or distinctive way because of any disability
- Unable to read or write
Your date of birth and National Insurance number will still be required.
It is illegal to sign the application on behalf of anyone else. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about applying for a signature waiver.
Providing your National Insurance Number
Your details will need to be verified against government records. This is an anti-fraud measure to protect the integrity of the postal voting system. Applications to vote by post will be rejected where a National Insurance Number is not provided.
You can find your National Insurance Number on your NI card, employee payslip or correspondence from HMRC e.g. letters about tax, pensions or benefits. GOV.UK can help you find your NI number if you have problems tracking it down.
If you do not have a National Insurance Number you will be required to provide documentary evidence.
Evidence for postal vote applications without a National Insurance Number
In some cases, we are unable to process your application to vote by post because we have not been able to confirm your identity, which we are required to do by law. If this happens, we need you to provide documentary evidence. Until this evidence is received, we are unable to process your request for a postal vote.
There are three categories of evidence. You will need to provide either:
- One document from type 1, or
- Three documents from type 2, or
- One document from type 2 AND two documents from type 3, or
- Four documents from type 3
- Any current passport
- Biometric residence permit (UK issued only)
- Valid EEA ID card
- Photocard part of a current driving licence (UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands, full or provisional)
- Northern Ireland Electoral ID card
- UK only - Old style paper version of a current driving licence
- UK and Crown Dependencies only:
- Current photo driving licence
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or Civil Partnership certificate
- Firearms licence
- Police bail sheet
- Adoption Certificate
- Issued in the last 12 months - Mortgage statement
- Issued in the last 3 months:
- Bank or Building Society statement
- Bank or Building Society account opening confirmation letter
- Credit card statement
- Financial statement e.g. pension or endowment
- Council Tax statement
- Utility bill
- P45 or P60 statement eg Child Benefit, Pension
- Central or local government agency, or local government department giving entitlement eg from DWP, Job Centre Plus or HMRC
You can take a photo of your document(s) with a digital device (smartphone/tablet), use a scanner or upload an existing digital copy. All files must be in PNG, GIF, HEIC or PDF format, maximum file size 20MB.
Request a paper application to vote by post
If you are unable to apply online, you can download an application form from GOV.UK.
If you do not have a printer you can contact Electoral Services so we can send you a paper application, email email@example.com to request a paper application form. You will need to send us your full name and address.
If you are registered to vote by post, you cannot vote in person at the polling station unless you have cancelled your registration in writing in advance. Polling station staff will not issue you with a ballot paper under any circumstances
Once you have registered to vote by post, your postal vote pack will be delivered to the address specified on your application. You should receive your postal vote pack around a week before election day. Keep it safe and don't allow others to handle it.
The postal voting pack will contain a postal voting statement and relevant ballot paper(s).
When you're ready to cast your vote, you should:
- Mark your vote on your ballot paper in secret
- Fill in and sign the postal voting statement
- Put the ballot and statement in the envelope provided
- Seal the envelope yourself
To ensure your vote is counted:
- Write your signature carefully inside the box. This must match the signature on your postal vote application form
- Write your date of birth where indicated.
Your date of birth and signature provided on your application to vote by post will be checked against your completed postal vote statement to keep your vote secure.
The statement will need to be completed with your date of birth and signature unless a signature waiver has been granted by the Electoral Registration Officer. It is illegal to sign a postal voting statement on behalf of anyone else.
If you do not follow the above steps when completing your postal vote statement, your postal vote may be rejected and not counted.
Not sure what to do? The video below offers guidance on completing your postal ballot paper.
Lost or spoiled ballot paper
If you have lost or spoilt your ballot paper, you can get a replacement up to 5pm on the day of an election. You must collect it in person.
If you spoiled your ballot paper, bring the spoiled paper, and rest of the ballot pack that was sent to you.
Post the envelope yourself or ask someone you trust to post it for you. Don't leave it where someone could pick it up.
All postal ballot packs must be received by 10pm on polling day to be included in the count. Your complete postal ballot pack (ballot paper and accompanying postal voting statement) can be returned in one of the following ways:
- Post it using the pre-paid envelope provided
- Deliver it to the Civic Centre address
- Deliver it to a polling station in your ward on polling day (between 7am and 10pm)
If you deliver your postal vote to a polling station or the Civic Centre, you will need to complete a further declaration.
Please contact the police if anyone tries to help you against your will or insists that you hand them your envelope.
To cancel your postal vote you must contact Electoral Services by:
- Submitting the online form to change your method of voting, or
- Writing to Electoral Services at firstname.lastname@example.org ensuring that you include your signature and date of birth
The deadline for Electoral Services to receive a written cancellation of postal voting arrangement before an election is 5pm, 11 working days before polling day. This is also the deadline to make changes to an existing postal vote including changing your postal vote to a proxy vote.
The law has changed for how long you can have a permanent postal vote for. The maximum time you can have a postal vote is 3 years - if you have a permanent postal vote we will write to you when it is time for you to reapply.
If you have any questions regarding completing the postal vote application form or voting by post or by proxy, please get in touch with the Electoral Services team.
Got a question?
Web chat available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Up to: Casting your vote
Updated: 17 November 2023