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Do I need ID to vote in the UK?

An abstract illustration of multiple people voting

Preparing for the polls

Luke Pilot, Campaigns Officer for Age UK, explains the new rules around voting in UK elections and how to get voter ID.



New rules on voting in elections in England will come into effect for the first time this year during the local elections on 4 May.

We want to make sure as many people as possible are aware of these changes and what they need to do that is different than in previous elections. We have therefore compiled some questions and answers to make sure you know what to take bring with you when you vote and what support is available.

What are the new voter ID rules?

Voters will be required to bring a form of photographic identification with them when they attend a polling station in England. This will apply to local elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections, Parliamentary by-elections, recall petitions and general elections (from October 2023). This begins with the local elections taking place on 4 May 2023.

Do the voter ID rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too?

This information only relates to voting rules in England. You can find information about photo identification in elections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the Government’s website.

What valid identification documents can I use to vote?

The list of qualifying identification documents includes, but is not limited to: Passport, Driving licence, Blue Badge, older person’s bus pass and disabled person’s bus pass. ID that is out of date can still be used, but the photo must still look like you and have the same name on it that you used to register to vote. The full list of qualifying identification can be found here.

What if I don’t have any of these forms of voter identification?

If you do not have any qualifying photo identification, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate instead. This is provided by your local council. You will need to bring this with you to your polling station instead of photo identification to be able to vote.

How do I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?

You can apply online or by post. You will be asked to provide your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number. There are other documents you can use if you do not know your National Insurance number to prove your identity, like your birth certificate. You will also need to provide a photo.

Your local council will process your application and you will receive your Voter Authority Certificate in the post.

A Voter Authority Certificate is free and provided by your local council. Do not give money to someone requesting payment for a Voter Authority Certificate, as this may be a scam.

How long do I have to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?

You must register to vote before you apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. The deadline to register to vote for the local elections in May is Monday 17 April 2023. The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate is Tuesday 25 April 2023.

Where can I get help with voter identification documents?

You can contact your local council for help applying. If you need to apply by post but cannot print off the paper application yourself, you can ask your local council to send you a copy of the application form.

Information on the photo identification requirements can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website and you can also access support for Voter Authority Certificates through their helpline: 0800 328 0280.

The Electoral Commission has produced tailored guidance for supporting older people with these changes to voting and applying for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Is there another way I can vote without identification?

You can also apply to vote by post or arrange a proxy vote. You do not need photo identification or a Voter Authority Certificate to vote using these methods.

What can I do to help a friend or family member?

Check your friends and family are aware they must now bring photo identification with them to the polling station when they vote. Let them know they should apply for a Voter Authority Certificate if they do not have qualifying identification.

You can help them complete the application online or obtain a paper application from their local council and take a photo for them. Finally, make sure they know where their polling station is and whether they are able to travel there. Make sure they know they can also apply to vote by post or by proxy.


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Last updated: Mar 30 2023

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