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How to Register to Vote If You’re Homeless 

06.03.2018 5727 XX

You can register to vote even if you are homeless or don’t have a fixed address. This page is a regularly updated guide to how to vote if you are homeless. 

To vote in elections and referendums, you must be registered to vote.  

Local government elections on Thursday, 2 May 2019 

The local elections will cover 270 English local councils, six directly elected mayors in England, and all 11 local councils in Northern Ireland. In some councils, all seats are up for election, in others just a half go to the polls.  

There will also be by-elections for several local authority seats.

The closing date for registration for the local elections has now passed.

Details of who is eligible to vote in the local elections are below.

European Parliament elections on 23 May 2019

Elections to the European Parliament are currently scheduled to take place on 23 May.

If you are already registered to vote, you don't need to register again. If you have moved since you last registered, have changed nationality, or have never registered, you will need to register no later than Tuesday 7 May 2019.

Who can register to vote 

You can register to vote in the UK if you are: 

  • resident (usually live in the UK), and 
  • aged 16 or over, but you will not be able to vote until you are 18 (except in Scotland, where the voting age will be 16 in some elections). 
  • You must also be either: 
    • a British or Irish citizen; or 
    • a Commonwealth citizen who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK; or 
    • an EU citizen. 

You can register to vote even if you are homeless or don’t have a fixed address. You can use the address of somewhere you spend a lot of your time, like a day centre or night shelter, a friend’s place or somewhere outdoors. 

How to register to vote 

England, Scotland and Wales 

It’s quick and easy to register to vote online, as long as you know your National Insurance number and date of birth. If you can’t provide your NI number and date of birth you may have to contact your electoral registration office

You can also download a register to vote form and post it to your local authority. 

Northern Ireland 

Voters in Northern Ireland can now register online, but still require a different register to vote form for paper registrations. 

What to do if you’re homeless or have no fixed address  

You can still register to vote even if you do not have a fixed address. This may be because you are: 

  • a homeless person 
  • a patient in a mental health hospital 
  • a person remanded in custody 

To register, you need to fill in a form called a 'Declaration of local connection’. You can get this form from your electoral registration office. Or you can download and print a registration form. You may be able to get help filling it in from your local homelessness support services. 

People without a permanent address  

You can register from an address where you would be living if it were not for your current circumstances, or an address where you are staying temporarily or have lived at in the past. 

People with no fixed address  

You can give details of where you spend a lot of your time (during the day or night). This might be a day service, night shelter, or an address nearest to, for example, a park bench, a bus shelter or the doorway to a high-street store. 

Why should you register to vote?  

  • You have to be registered to vote so you can vote in elections and referendums.  
  • You can be fined if you are asked to register to vote and fail to do so without valid reason.  
  • Being on the electoral register could help improve your credit rating. 

In some circumstances, you can register to vote anonymously.

Why should you vote? 

  • It's your chance to make your voice heard about important issues. 
  • Politicians are far more likely to listen to you if you can vote them in or out. 
  • Politicians, including MPs and councillors, represent your local area and have the power to change things. 

Who can vote in local elections? 

You must be: 

  • Aged 18 or over; and  
  • Resident and registered to vote in the UK; and 
  • A British or Irish citizen resident in the UK; or 
  • A Commonwealth citizen who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK; or 
  • An EU citizen. 

These rules also apply to local by-elections and Police Commissioner elections. 

Who can vote in the European Parliament election?

Anyone eligible to vote in the local elections can also vote in elections to the European Parliament.

If you’re a citizen of a EU country (other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus), you can either vote in the UK or in your home country. You can’t vote twice.

To vote in the UK, you need to:

  • be registered to vote
  • download and complete a form stating you wish to vote in the UK and not in your home country
  • send the form to your local electoral registration office by 7 May 2019

Contact your local electoral registration office to find out where to send the form.

Who can vote in a general election or parliamentary by-election? 

You must be: 

  • Aged 18 or over; and 
  • Resident and registered to vote in the UK; and 
  • A British or Irish citizen resident in the UK; or 
  • A citizen of the Commonwealth nations of Malta and Cyprus; or 
  • A Commonwealth citizen who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK. 

Convicted prisoners can’t vote in any election, but those on remand and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the register. 

How to vote 

If you are eligible and registered to vote you can vote: 

You can apply for a postal or proxy vote online or by contacting your electoral registration office

Voter ID pilots

 The government will again be piloting voter ID requirements in several local authorities in the 2019 local elections.

  • Voters in Pendle, East Staffordshire and Woking will be asked to show photo ID before they are given their ballot papers.
  • Ribble Valley, Broxtowe, Derby, North Kesteven and Braintree will require voters to present either one form of photo ID or up to two forms of non-photo ID.
  • Mid Sussex, Watford and North West Leicestershire will require poll cards as a means of identification.

Local authorities will have to provide alternative methods of ID to individuals who do not have the specified form of ID, free of charge, ensuring that everyone who is registered has the opportunity to vote. Contact your Electoral Registration Office for more details if you live in one of the pilot areas.

What happens if you don't register? 

If you’re asked to register by your Electoral Registration Office and don’t do so, you could be fined.  

You won’t be fined if you have a valid reason for not registering, like a long stay in hospital or if you have severe learning difficulties. 

The electoral register and ‘open register’ 

There are two versions of the electoral register. Everyone’s name and address goes on the full version of the electoral register. The full version of the register is only used for: 

  • elections 
  • preventing and detecting crime 
  • checking applications for loans or credit 

The 'open register' is available to anyone who wants to buy a copy and is frequently used for marketing purposes. You can easily opt-out of the 'open' version when you register. 

If you can show that you have good reason, you can register anonymously. For example, if you’re concerned about your safety. Your details won’t appear on either version of the electoral register if you register anonymously. 

You can opt out of the open register online

Contact your electoral registration office to ask about anonymous registration.