How to register to vote and electoral registration FAQs
Read guidance on how to register to vote and other frequently asked questions relating to electoral registration
How do I register to vote?
The electoral registration system in Great Britain changed in 2014. The registration system is now called 'Individual Electoral Registration'.
If you would like to register to vote, or require more details on the electoral registration system, please visit the Gov.uk - register to vote website.
What is the Annual Canvass and why have I been sent a letter?
You will receive a canvass letter every year, even if you are already registered. The purpose of this letter is to confirm who lives at your address and it enables us to make sure that our registers are complete and accurate.
The information that you provide on the form means that we can send a separate Invitation to Register form to anyone in your household, including any 16 and 17 year olds, who are eligible but not yet on the register.
Who is eligible to register to vote?
You can register to vote if you are 16 years old or over and a British citizen or Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK.
17 year olds and some 16 year olds are entitled to be included on the register as 'attainers'. They can vote once they are 18.
To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to enter or remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a 'Commonwealth citizen' includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.
Citizens of the European Union (who are not Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Republic of Ireland) can vote in local elections in the UK, elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies (if they live in those areas) and some referendums (based on the rules for the particular referendum), but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections. They can also vote in European elections by completing a separate application.
Why should I register?
This country is a democracy, everyday vital decisions affecting all our lives are taken by members of parliament and local councillors elected by the people. You can help choose them by voting. If you don't register, you won't be able to vote, and you will lose your chance to influence the way things are run in your town or village, in Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough, in East Sussex and the whole country.
Not being registered can also impact on applications for mortgages or mobile phones as credit reference agencies use the register to validate applications.
I'm concerned about my name appearing on the register, can I register anonymously?
Anonymous registration is available if your safety or that of any other person in the same household would be at risk if your name or address were made public. You must produce court documents or an attestation from a qualified person (eg. a senior police officer or director of social services) in support of your application.
If you are registered anonymously, when there is an election you will receive your poll card in an envelope and you must take it with you to the polling station in order to be able to vote.
If you are registered anonymously you cannot sign a candidate's nomination papers. Anonymous registrations must be renewed each year, we will send you a renewal form before your renewal is due.
If you need to register anonymously you can contact us and request an Anonymous Registration Form - you are not able to register anonymously online.
Where can I view the Electoral Register?
The Electoral Register can be viewed at our offices. The register is not published on the internet.
- For the Lewes Electoral Register (by appointment only), please contact Electoral Services by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01273 085117
- For the Eastbourne Electoral Register please visit Eastbourne Borough Council: Town Hall, Grove Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4UG (by appointment only, please email: email@example.com)
Depending on the Government's Covid guidance in place at the time, appointments may need to be time restricted or delayed accordingly.
There are two versions of the Electoral Register, for more information on this please see "Why are there two versions of the register?" below. The open register can be viewed for any purpose, the full register can only be viewed for electoral purposes.
Why are there two versions of the register?
Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers - the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).
The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (for example fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications.
Users of the electoral register are:
- Election staff, political parties, candidates, and holders of elected office, for electoral purposes
- Eastbourne Borough Council, Lewes District Council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision. A copy is also held by the Electoral Commission , the Boundary Commission (who set constituency boundaries) and the Office for National Statistics
- The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime. The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement
- The register is used when calling people for jury service
- Government departments may buy the register from local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applicants and employees
- Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering
It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.
The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.
Your name and address will be automatically included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. To opt out of the open register you can simply tick a box when completing either your online or paper registration. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
Users of the open register include:
- Businesses checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop online
- Businesses selling age-restricted goods or services such as alcohol or gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers
- Charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information of those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other
- Charities, to help with fundraising and contacting people who have made donations
- Debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors
- Direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists
- Landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants
- Local councils when identifying and contacting residents
- Online directory firms to help users of the websites find people, such as when reuniting family and friends
- Organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies
Private sector firms to verify details of job applicants
How do I change my name on the register?
If your name has changed you can contact us to request a Change of Name Form. You need to complete this form including your previous name, the new name and the date of the change. You will also need to send us evidence to support the change of your name, such as marriage certificate or deed poll certificate. Please post the signed and completed from to us using the relevant contact details at the bottom of this page.
When I move does my registration automatically get updated?
No. You will need to complete a fresh application to register at your new address. To register go to the Gov.uk - register to vote.
Re-registering for Council Tax does not automatically update your entry on the electoral register as the law requires that separate applications are needed for both records.
When will my details be added to the electoral register?
Once you have made a successful application to register, we will send you a confirmation letter to tell you when you will be added to your current address in the electoral register. If some details on your application are incomplete or unclear, we will write to you to request further information from you before we can add you to the electoral register.
Registration Dates 2023
|Application received by||Date added to the electoral register|
|Monday 12 December 2022||Tuesday 3 January 2023|
|Tuesday 10 January 2023||Wednesday 1 February 2023|
|Tuesday 7 February 2023||Wednesday 1 March 2023|
|Friday 10 March 2023||Monday 3 April 2023|
|Thursday 6 April 2023||Tuesday 2 May 2023|
|Wednesday 10 May 2023||Thursday 1 June 2023|
|Friday 9 June 2023||Monday 3 July 2023|
|Monday 10 July 2023||Tuesday 1 August 2023|
|Thursday 10 August 2023||Friday 1 September 2023|
|Friday 8 September 2023||Monday 2 October 2023|
|Tuesday 10 October 2023||Wednesday 1 November 2023|
|Wednesday 22 November 2023||Friday 1 December 2023|
|Monday 11 December 2023||Tuesday 2 January 2024|
How can I change my method of voting?
If you would like to change from voting in person to voting by post or by proxy, you will need to complete an application.
Apply to vote by post
From 31 October 2023, you will need to provide your National Insurance number when applying for a postal vote in order to verify your identity. If you do not have a National Insurance number, or it cannot be matched, you will be contacted for further information.
You can now apply for a postal vote online: Apply online. You will need to upload a photo of your signature as part of the application process.
Alternatively, you can download and print a paper application form from the Electoral Commission website: Postal application form. Completed application forms can be returned by email, as a scan or clear photograph, or by post.
Apply to vote by proxy
From 31 October 2023, you can apply online if you want to vote by proxy for a particular election or referendum or for a definite period for overseas and service electors. You will need to provide your National Insurance number as part of your application. For all other types of proxy application, you will need to complete a paper application form. Make sure you complete all sections of the form and supply your date of birth, National Insurance number, and signature.
To apply online: Apply online. You will need to upload a photo of your signature as part of the application process.
Alternatively, you can download and print a paper application form from the Electoral Commission website: Proxy application form. Completed application forms can be returned by email, as a scan or clear photograph, or by post.
Electoral Services contact details and postal address
Electoral Services (Lewes district)
- Phone: 01273 471600
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Forms should be returned to:
Southover House, Southover Road
Lewes, BN7 1AB
Electoral Services (Eastbourne)
- Phone: 01323 410000
- Email: email@example.com
- Forms should be returned to:
Town Hall, Grove Road
Eastbourne, BN21 4UG
If you are unable to download the postal or proxy vote application forms, please contact us using the details above and we will arrange for an application form to be sent to you in the post.
Cancel a Postal or Proxy Vote
If you wish to cancel or change an existing postal or proxy vote, please contact Electoral Services using the contact details above.