At the polling station
Why has voter identification been introduced in polling stations?
We have always had a form of identity check – this is not new. What is new is the production of photographic identification as part of the ongoing developments to ensure the integrity of the election. The policy decision by the government flows from a manifesto pledge in their 2017 and 2019 manifestos.
What will be acceptable identification in polling stations?
A voter must present one of the following forms of photographic identification in order to vote in person at the polling station:
- a passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
- a driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state (includes a provisional driving licence)
- a biometric immigration document
- an identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
- Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
- a Blue Badge
- a national identity card issued by the EEA state
- an Older Person’s Bus Pass
- a Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- an Oyster 60+ Card
- a Freedom Pass
- a Scottish National Entitlement Card issued in Scotland
- a 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- a Disabled Person's Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- a Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person's SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- an Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland
- a Voter Authority Certificate or a temporary Voter Authority Certificate
Why are certain work, student passes and railcards not accepted?
Work and student passes
Given the wide array of professional and educational organisations that provide photographic identification, it would not be difficult to create a form of identification for a non-existent organisation meaning these would be susceptible to fraud. However, some student cards are PASS accredited, and so would be accepted (for example, the National Union of Students 'TOTUM' student card). All accredited PASS cards bear the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram.
While a railcard is considered a concessionary travel pass, the Government does not believe this would be an appropriate form of identification as it is insufficiently secure. Similarly, the 18+ Oyster card does not have a suitably secure application process for it to be used as photographic identification at polling stations (unlike the 60+ Oyster card, which has more rigorous processes).
Will photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents be accepted?
No, photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents will not be accepted as photo-editing software could be used to edit them, thus making them susceptible to fraudulent alteration.
Some supporting documents for a name change, such as a wedding certificate, may be 'certified copies' and will be accepted in polling stations for the purpose of demonstrating a name change.
My photographic identification has expired, what do I do?
If your photographic identification has expired it will still be accepted so long as the photograph is still of good likeness of you.
My name on the electoral register is different from the name on my photographic identification, what do I do?
The decision on whether an identification document bearing a different name or an alternative spelling of a name from the one on the register can be accepted will be at the discretion of the polling station staff, who must be satisfied that the identification provided is acceptable.
If your name has changed, for example through marriage, you will be required to provide further proof of identity, such as a marriage certificate, providing evidence of a name change.
Can I have my photographic identification viewed in private?
There will be a private area in each polling station which will allow voters wishing to have their form of identification to be viewed in private to do so. This may be achieved in a variety of ways and will depend on the room or rooms being used as polling station. For some stations, this may be achieved through the provision of privacy screens or, in others, using an existing partition or a separate room to facilitate this.
We will provide a mirror in polling stations to assist people who wear face coverings to remove them for the purposes of checking identification (and specifically to provide reassurance that they have been properly replaced following the check).
If an elector refuses to comply with the voter identification check, they will not be given a ballot paper and will not be able to vote in the polling station.
Can I have my photographic identification viewed by a specific gender poll clerk?
It is not a mandatory requirement for Returning Officer’s to provide a specific gender poll clerk in polling stations. However, you may wish to request a specific gender poll clerk to view your photographic identification and this request will be met if there is a female poll clerk available.
What happens if I cannot provide acceptable photographic identification at the polling station?
If you turn up to a polling station with no acceptable photographic identification, you will be advised to leave and return with appropriate identification.
If you do not provide an accepted form of identification, then there is no evidence that you are the person on the register. Therefore, it will not be appropriate for you to be issued with a tendered ballot paper.
The Presiding Officer will be responsible for making the decision to refuse to provide a ballot paper. There will be no ability for an elector to appeal the Presiding Officer’s decision on polling day.
What do I do if my identification is lost, stolen or damaged close to polling day?
In the unfortunate event that you lose all forms of identification before the deadline for applications for a Voter Authority Certificate has passed, or if your identification is stolen, destroyed or damaged beyond use, you may apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.
If you lose your identification after the deadline for applications for Voter Authority Certificate, the ERO will have the ability to allow the appointment of an emergency proxy for that polling day.
Will I need to provide supporting evidence when requesting an emergency proxy for lost identification?
You will not need to provide any evidence or attestation to support your request for an emergency proxy in these situations. You will need to provide a reason why you need an emergency proxy and make a declaration.
I am a proxy voter, will I need to show identification for the elector on whose behalf I am voting?
As a proxy voter, you will need to produce your own photographic identification in the polling station in order to show that you are the named proxy, but you will not need to produce the identification of the elector on whose behalf you are voting. If you are a proxy voter and you do not have accepted photographic identification, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate.
I am an emergency proxy voter, will I need to show identification for the elector on whose behalf I am voting?
As an emergency proxy, you will need to produce your own photographic identification in the polling station but will not need to produce identification for the person on whose behalf you are voting. Given proximity to the poll of an emergency proxy being appointed, it is advisable that an emergency proxy should already have acceptable identification.
Voter Authority Certificate
What is a Voter Authority Certificate?
If you do not possess acceptable forms of photographic identification, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate.
What will a Voter Authority Certificate look like?
The Voter Authority Certificate is expected to be an A4 sized, paper-based document displaying the elector’s full name and photograph, the date of issue (or the date on which it can be used, for temporary documents), the issuing local authority, an appropriate identifier, and a recommended renewal date (10 years after the date of issue). It will also contain inherent security features to ensure it is secure and to protect against fraud. Some of these features will be visible, such as the inclusion of a watermark, allowing polling station staff to clearly recognise it as a valid document.
Will my Voter Authority Certificate expire?
Voter Authority Certificates will not have an expiry date but will include a recommended renewal date. The Voter Authority Certificate is only valid so long as the photograph remains a good likeness of you which is why we recommend that you apply for a new document within 10 years of the issue date. 10 years has been used as this is the standard length of validity for passports and driving licences and is designed to prompt the owner to keep the photo up to date.
How can I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
You can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate online, by post or in person. Application forms will be available online to download and print (including on GOV.UK), but you will also be able to request that our Electoral Services team post an application form to you. We will accept scanned copies of applications for Voter Authority Certificates via email. Paper applications may also be posted or handed in to our offices.
You will be asked to provide:
- your full name
- your address at which you are registered
- overseas electors and service voters will need to provide their declaration and present address
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number
- a close-up photograph of your head and shoulders
- anonymous electors will need to indicate that they have (or have applied for) an anonymous entry on the register.
- applicants will also be asked if they need to collect their document rather than have it delivered, and to give a reason why.
- applicants will need also to declare that the information is provided is true, and applications will be dated.
You can contact our Electoral Services team by email to email@example.com or by calling 01892 554024 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
What will the photo requirements be for Voter Authority Certificate applications?
The photo requirements will be similar to passport requirements. You must be facing forwards, with no other objects or people in the photo, not wearing sunglasses or head coverings (with the exception of head coverings for medical or religious reasons), with no glare or shadows over the face and be against a neutral background.
The online application service will not allow an application to be submitted until a photograph has been uploaded.
What if I am unable to take a digital photo to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
If you are unable to provide a digital photo, then you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate via a paper application form and provide a physical photograph with that application. An online application cannot be made if you do not have (or cannot take) a digital photo. If you are unable to take a photograph yourself, you can contact our Electoral Services team and arrange for them to take a photograph for you.
Do I have to be on the electoral register to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
You will need to be registered to vote in order to be issued with a Voter Authority Certificate. However, you will be able to submit an application for a Voter Authority Certificate at the same time as you submit an application to register to vote – you will not need to wait to have their registration confirmed first.
Can I use my Voter Authority Certificate as ID outside of the polling station?
No. The Voter Authority Certificate will only be accepted as photographic identification for the purpose of supporting the democratic process.
How will I receive my Voter Authority Certificate?
We will use Royal Mail to deliver the Voter Authority Certificate to your registered address. It is estimated that Voter Authority Certificates will be printed within one to two days of being sent to our print supplier, and then delivered first class by Royal Mail.
You may request during your application to collect your document in person from our offices. You will be asked to provide your reason for this request, and this may be made available. We will notify you of where and at what times the document can be collected, and that the document may only be collected by yourself in person.
I have moved house; do I need to apply for a new Voter Authority Certificate?
Although you will need to register to vote at your new address, you will not need to request a new Voter Authority Certificate if you move house within Tunbridge Wells or move to another local authority. You will be able to use your Voter Authority Certificate in all polls across Great Britain – not just in the local authority that issued the Voter Authority Certificate.
When can I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?
You will be able to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate from January 2023. The exact date will be confirmed soon and details added to our website.
The deadline for applications for a Voter Authority Certificate will be 5pm, six working days before polling day. The deadline for applications for a Voter Authority Certificate ahead of the next local elections in May 2023 is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.
What happens if I apply for a Voter Authority Certificate after the deadline?
If you apply for a Voter Authority Certificate after the deadline, then you will be unable to receive a Voter Authority Certificate in time for polling day. We will not be able to determine your application until after polling day. However, your application will be determined after polling day so that you can participate in future elections.
Temporary Voter Authority Certificates and emergency proxies will not be available if you have applied for a Voter Authority Certificate after the deadline.
What happens after I have made an application for a Voter Authority Certificate?
When applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, you will need to provide evidence identifying yourself – initially through providing your date of birth and National Insurance number. These details will then be matched against the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) records in order for your identity to be verified.
If these details are either not provided or do not match against the DWP records, then we will be in contact to request some documentary evidence or an attestation so that we can manually verify your identity.
The Electoral Registration Office will decide whether a Voter Authority Certificate should be issued. The Electoral Registration Office must be satisfied that the person making the application is the person named in the application and that the applicant is both eligible and registered to vote.
You will be notified on whether your application has been approved or rejected. If your application has been approved, we will inform you of the delivery or collection arrangements. If your application has been rejected, we will inform you of the reasons for the refusal.
What documents can I provide to help you verify my identity?
You may be asked to provide additional evidence to prove your identity for a Voter Authority Certificate application, documents such as a:
- birth, adoption, marriage or civil partnership certificate
- firearms certificate
- non-photocard UK driving licence, or a driving licence granted other than in the UK or Crown Dependencies
- record of bail
- financial statement (such as a mortgage, bank or building society, credit card or pension statement)
- Council Tax letter or statement
- utility bill
- P45 or P60
- benefits statement
You may also provide an attestation to verify your identity.
Why can I not provide a passport or driver’s licence as additional evidence to verify my identity?
As these existing identifications can be used at a polling station, it would create unnecessary demand on our Electoral Services team if electors are allowed to use this form of identification as proof of identity when applying for a Voter Authority Certificate.
A passport and/or driver’s licence will be accepted as proof of identity if applying for an Anonymous Elector’s Document.
Can I check the status of my online application for a Voter Authority Certificate?
No. You will not be able to check for updates. You must direct all queries regarding applications to our Electoral Services team. We will contact you to inform you whether your application has been approved or rejected.
Why has my application for a Voter Authority Certificate been rejected?
Your application for a Voter Authority Certificate may have been rejected if the Electoral Registration Officer is not satisfied that you are the person named in the application or you are not eligible or registered to vote, or if you have not provided any additional information when requested by the Electoral Registration Officer.
Temporary Voter Authority Certificate
I have not received my Voter Authority Certificate, what do I do?
We advise that you contact our Electoral Services team if you have not received your Voter Authority Certificate within 28 days of application.
If you have applied for a Voter Authority Certificate by the deadline but you have not received it on this date, then you should contact our Electoral Services team. We will be able to issue you with a temporary Voter Authority Certificate, valid only for the specific polling day, which you will need to collect in person from our offices. We will notify you on where and at what times the temporary Voter Authority Certificate can be collected. This option will be available from 5pm, six working days before polling day and up to 5pm on polling day.
If I am issued with a temporary Voter Authority Certificate, do I have to re-apply for a permanent certificate?
No. Temporary certificates will only be issued if there is an issue with you receiving your permanent certificate. If your permanent certificate is late in the post, it should arrive after polling day and so no further action is needed. However, if the temporary certificate was issued because the permanent certificate was damaged on arrival, we will arrange for a new one to be printed.
I am registered as an anonymous elector; how do I vote in person at a polling station?
You will need to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document if you choose to vote in person. This is the only form of identification that you will be able to use in the polling station because your name does not appear on the register and therefore no other types of identification will prove that you are the correct elector. You will need to provide a photo as part of your application for an Anonymous Elector’s Documents.
You must present your Anonymous Elector’s Document in addition to your poll card in order to vote in person at a polling station. The electoral register number on the Anonymous Elector’s Document must match the electoral register number shown on your poll card to be accepted.
You do not need to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document if you are voting by post.
Can I use my Anonymous Elector’s Document anywhere?
Unlike Voter Authority Certificates, an anonymous elector registered in two or more locations, or one who moved local authority, will require a different Anonymous Elector’s Documents for each location. This is because the electoral register number displayed on the Anonymous Elector’s Document will be unique to each local authority that the anonymous elector has registered to vote with. Anonymous electors will need to make separate applications to each of the relevant local authorities. An anonymous elector’s poll card will show their electoral register number, so if they have multiple Anonymous Elector’s Documents, they will know which one they must use to vote in a particular location.
When do Anonymous Elector’s Documents expire?
Anonymous Elector’s Documents will be valid until the anonymous elector applied to renew their registration – at which point they will need to apply for a new Anonymous Elector’s Document as well.
The Anonymous Elector’s Documents will not display the elector’s name; this is replaced by the elector’s electoral number. Therefore, the Anonymous Elector’s Document will only be valid while the electoral register number it displays is allocated to the elector. Anonymous electors will require a new Anonymous Elector’s Document if and when they are assigned a new electoral register number. In this circumstance, an anonymous elector will not need to make a new application – we will issue you with one automatically.
I have lost my Anonymous Elector’s Document, what do I do?
If your Anonymous Elector’s Document has been lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged after 5pm, six working days before polling day then you must contact our Electoral Services team as soon as possible. We can issue you with a replacement Anonymous Elector’s Document up until 5pm on polling day. We will inform you when and at what times the replacement Anonymous Elector’s Document is ready to collect in person from our offices. You must bring your Certificate of Anonymous Registration upon collecting your replacement Anonymous Elector’s Document so that we can verify your identity.
Will I have to show photographic identification to hand in a postal vote?
No. You will not need to show any form of identification in order to hand in your own or another person’s postal vote.
Will my poll card look different?
Yes. For May 2023 there will be additional information on the poll card regarding the new requirements and details regarding voter identification. Due to this, the poll card will therefore need to be bigger. For polls in May 2023 onwards, poll cards will be A4 sized and delivered to your registered address in an envelope.
What can I expect when I attend a polling station to vote in person?
You will go to the desk and tell the staff your name and address. They will ask you to provide your photographic identification. They will then give you your ballot paper(s). Take your ballot paper(s) to a voting booth. Read the instructions in the booth and mark your ballot paper(s), fold it once so that nobody can see how you have voted. Then put your folded ballot paper(s) into the appropriate ballot box(es).
I no longer want to vote in person at a polling station, what are my options?
Vote by post
If you do not want to vote in person at a polling station, then you can apply to vote by post. This means that you will be sent a postal ballot pack before the election. The deadline to apply for a postal vote for the local elections in May 2023 is 5pm on Tuesday 18 April 2023.
Vote by proxy
If you do not want to vote in person at a polling station, then you can apply to vote by proxy. This means that you can nominate somebody that you trust to attend your polling station in person and vote on your behalf. The deadline to apply for a proxy vote for the local elections in May 2023 is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.
To find out more information or to download application forms then please visit The Electoral Commission website (opens in a new window).