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Voting by post

Frequently asked questions on casting your vote by post at elections in the UK.

On this page you can find the answers to frequently asked questions about voting by post at an election or referendum in the UK.

You can download a postal vote application form from this website.

Download a form to apply to vote by post (PDF).

Fill it in and return it to your local electoral registration office.

In Northern Ireland, visit the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland website.

Find contact details for your local authority

When you apply for a postal vote, you need to provide your signature and date of birth on the form. When you complete your postal voting statement you provide this information again. The signature and date of birth on your postal voting statement are checked against those on your application to prevent fraud.

Your personal information is separated from your ballot paper before it is looked at and counted, so the secrecy of your vote is not affected.

It is an offence to complete a postal vote that is not your own, and to influence how others complete their postal vote. If you have any allegations of fraud, they should be referred to the police.

If you are not already registered to vote, you will need to register in order to then cast your vote by post.

In Great Britain you can register to vote online at gov.uk/register-to-vote. As part of that process you can select that you would like to vote by post.

Alternatively, once you are registered to vote, you can download an application form to vote by post.

You can apply for just one election or referendum, for a specific time period, or for a permanent postal vote.

The Returning Officer (who is the person responsible for conducting the poll) issues postal votes, so you should contact the elections office at your local authority.

As a guide, they cannot be issued until all candidates are nominated (the deadline for this is usually 4pm 19 working days before the poll). Ballot papers then need to be printed and postal ballot packs produced. This means that in practice postal votes may not be issued until much closer to polling day.

To find out when your postal ballot papers will arrive contact your local elections office.

Find contact details for your local authority

All postal and proxy voters are required to give their date of birth and signature when applying for a postal or proxy vote.

When you return your postal voting pack, your signature and date of birth are checked against those on your application to confirm your identity.

Your signature and date of birth are separated from your ballot paper before it is looked at or counted, so giving this information will not affect the secrecy of your vote.

For those who are unable to sign their form, or are unable to sign it in a consistent way, special provision can be made. For more information please contact your local Electoral Registration Officer.

Find contact details for your local Electoral Registration Officer

You should receive your postal ballot about one week before the election. To check when they are being sent out in your area contact the electoral services team at your local authority.

If it doesn't arrive, you can get a replacement ballot paper in person from your Returning Officer before 5pm on election day.

Find contact details for your local authority

If you have applied to vote by post, you cannot vote in person at the polling station.

However, on polling day you can return your postal vote to the polling station (before 10pm) or to the Returning Officer at your local council (before they close) if you do not want to post it or it is too late to post it.

You can get a replacement up until 5pm on polling day. You must pick it up in person from your Returning Officer.

You will also need to return your spoilt ballot paper and the other parts of the ballot pack that were sent to you.

You can get a replacement ballot paper in person from your Returning Officer up until 5pm on polling day.

To cancel your postal vote you need to contact your local electoral registration office.

Find contact details for your local electoral registration office

You will need to include the address where you were last registered to vote in the UK.

There is a section on the form for your correspondence address – you can include your overseas address in this section.

If you need to return a paper form to your local authority, such as for a postal or proxy vote application, it is possible they will accept a scan or fax of a completed and signed form.

However, you should contact your local electoral registration office first to check if they will accept a form in this way.

Find contact details for your local authority