Government online portal goes live
Changes to applying to vote by post or proxy
The way that you apply for postal voting is changing from 31 October 2023. Registered electors will have the option of completing a postal or proxy vote application through a new secure government portal.
The portal will go live and can be accessed from the 31 October 2023. Visit GOV.UK for the postal vote and proxy vote pathways.
A new requirement to provide your National Insurance number has also been introduced. This can be for an online application or a paper application.
The maximum length of a postal vote application has also changed. Before it could be applied permanently but has been reduced to a maximum period of three years before the absent vote needs to be renewed.
How postal voting works
Postal voting is available on request to any registered elector.
To set up a postal vote the elector needs to complete a postal vote application form. All applications are processed through the new central government portal.
A postal vote can be sent to the elector's home address or to an address where they will be at the time of an election. For security reasons, electors must give a reason on their application form if they ask for their postal votes to be sent to another address.
A postal vote can also be set up for a specific election only or for a specified period, an example of this would be a student who is away at university.
If you have a postal vote and move to another address, you have to re-register to vote at your new address. You must complete a new application to vote by post if you wish to continue to vote in this way.
Apply to vote by post
All applications will be processed through the government portal. We encourage all applications to go this way where possible.
You can apply for a postal vote via a paper application form, which are available to download from the Electoral Commission.
You can also request a paper application by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paper or email applications have to be entered onto the portal by the electoral services team. Depending on the number of applications received, this could delay processing compared to applications made through the portal.
You need to complete the application with a ‘wet ink’ signature that can be returned in paper form or as an email attachment.
If you are submitting a paper application form to vote by post at a particular election, ensure you allow enough time for your application to reach us, particularly if you are posting your forms.
If you are not yet registered to vote, you can apply online.
At election time, when you receive your postal voting pack, it will contain a postal voting statement that you must complete with your date of birth and signature. You will also receive an envelope to place your marked ballot paper/s.
For your vote to be counted, you must return both the postal voting statement form and the ballot paper/s.
Your ballot paper/s must be sealed in an envelope marked with the letter A and the postal voting statement along with the sealed envelope A placed in an envelope marked B.
Instructions will be provided when the postal packs are sent to you.
Voting from overseas
If you want the postal vote to be sent to an overseas address, you should be confident that the postal services can deliver it to you and return it to the relevant election office in the UK so that it arrives by the date of the election, so that it can be counted.
If you are not sure that this can be done, you can select a proxy - someone to vote on your behalf. They must be in the UK for the address at which you are registered, or to which you are linked if you are an overseas elector (your ‘qualifying address’).
Once you have been sent a postal ballot paper you cannot vote in person.
Lost/spoilt postal voting papers
Anyone shown as a postal voter cannot vote in person at a polling station, even if their postal vote has not arrived.
Replacements for lost or spoilt postal voting papers can be issued five working days before an election up until 5pm on election day.
In these cases, voters need to provide proof of identity and may need to collect any replacement postal voting papers from the Town Hall, 160 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1BJ.