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Register to vote

It only takes 5 minutes to register to vote.

What is voting?

You must register to vote in order to vote.

The people that run your council are called councillors. They make important decisions that can affect people's lives.

Councillors get elected. This means people living in the area get to decide which councillors are elected to run the council. People call this a local election.

Voting is one of the best ways for people to have their voice heard by people in power.  

Before 2014 one person in the household was responsible for registering everyone who lived there. Now, each person is responsible for their own registration; this is also known as Individual Electoral Registration.

The Electorial Commission – your vote matters, don't lose it.

Who can register to vote?

You can register to vote if you're:

  • 16 or older (although you can't vote until you're 18); and
  • A British citizen, qualifying Commonwealth, Irish or other European Union citizen living in the UK. More about who can register to vote.

Register to vote straight away if any of the following apply:

  • If you're not already registered; or
  • If you're not sure you're registered; or
  • You've recently moved home or changed your name.

It's better to register twice than not at all - we'll check for any duplicate registrations. Remember you need to register to vote every time you move home.

How do I register to vote?

You can now register online in just 5 minutes, you'll need to give your name, address, date of birth and national insurance number. You can find your national insurance number on documents such as payslips, letters about benefits and tax returns.

What to do if you can't find your national insurance number

R​​egister to vote on GOV.UK​​

Why do I need to register to vote?​

  • Residents have to be on the closed electoral register by law.
  • You can only vote in an election if you register to vote. 
  • Credit Reference Agencies use the electoral register when checking if a person has a good credit rating. If you aren't listed you may have difficulty applying for a loan, credit card, mortgage, or in opening a bank account.
  • Under certain circumstances you can register anonymously but will have to follow legal procedures to do so.

Frequently asked questions answered

What information is on the electoral register and who can access this?
Find out what information is on the electoral register, how to opt in or out of the open register, where you can inspect the register and how to buy it - about the electoral register

What is individual electoral registration?
Previously the ‘head of household’ was responsible for registering everyone who lived at the address, but now every individual is responsible for their own voter registration. This is called Individual Electoral Registration. The new system also means that people can register online. Anyone newly registering under the new system will need to register themselves individually by filling out a paper or online form.

Am I currently registered to vote?
If you're not sure if you've previously registered to vote, please contact our Elections Team using the details on this page.

What if I've moved house since I last registered or am moving house? 
If you've recently moved house or are moving in the future, you should register again at GOV.UK

Why has the system changed?
Individual Electoral Registration gives you the right and responsibility to register yourself, instead of giving the responsibility to a ‘head of household’. It encourages people to take individual responsibility for their own vote. The change has also allowed more convenient methods of registration, for example, by internet. Because the new system asks you for a few more details before you are added to the register – your National Insurance number and date of birth – the electoral register will be more secure and more resistant to threats of electoral fraud. 

Who is responsible for changing the system?
The system was introduced by the UK Government through the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 which became law on Thursday, 31 January 2013. Electoral Registration Officers are implementing the change.

Does the change affect how I vote?
No. Voting processes haven’t changed. However, if you want to vote by post or proxy you'll need to ensure that you're registered under the new system. If you haven’t already applied to vote by post, you'll need to do so by 5pm 11 working days before an election to vote by post at that election.

The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is normally 6 working days before an election, apart from in the case of a medical emergency or if you are called away unexpectedly for work reasons, when you may be able to apply up to 5pm on polling day.

Can a family member register me?
No. Everybody needs to register themselves. If you're unable to register yourself, it’s ok to get help filling in the details but you must make the declaration yourself.

Will I still get an annual canvass form?
Instead of your old annual canvass form, you'll receive a new type of form called a ‘household enquiry form’. You should use this form to confirm who lives in your home. If new adults aged 16 or over have moved in you should add them to the form, and if they've not registered we'll send them an invitation to register.

Do I need to re-register each year?
You don’t need to register again unless you change address. You should however return the form that you'll receive every year that confirms who is living in your household. You should also inform us if any of your details change (such as your name).

Must I register and what happens if I don’t?
If we've invited you to register to vote it's important that you respond. If you don’t, we'll send you reminders through the post and someone will visit your home. At the end of this process we may send you a requirement to register; if you fail to do so without providing adequate reason why you haven't, you may be fined £80. Not being registered can also impact on applications for mortgages or mobile phones, since credit reference agencies use the register to validate applications.

I have no fixed address, can I register?
Yes. If you have no fixed address you can still register to vote. You need to make something called a ‘declaration of local connection’ to show that you're connected to and spend time at a particular place. You can normally do this only for one place.

If you want to register through a declaration of local connection you will need to do so under the new registration system. This means you will need to provide your date of birth and National Insurance number.

What happens if I'm registering for the first time or re-registering?
Extra information needs to be provided when registering for the first time or re-registering. This includes providing your National Insurance number and your date of birth.

A National Insurance number is a reference number used by government. The easiest place to find your National Insurance number is on official paperwork, such as your National Insurance card, payslips or letters from the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). What to do if you can't find your national insurance number

Please be aware HMRC won't tell you your National Insurance number over the phone, they'll post it to you.

If you do not know your actual date of birth, you may have been given an official one in the past and you can use this to register to vote. This can be found on paperwork, including a passport, adoption certificate, driving licence or naturalisation certificate.

If you don't have one, you'll need to explain why you're unable to provide it in your registration application. We may contact you to ask you for proof of identity.


0300 303 0345

Phone: Monday-Friday 8.30am-5.30pm.
Closed for training Monday 11am-11.30am.

Elections Team
Governance and Committee Services
Floor 2
Number One Riverside
Smith Street
Rochdale OL16 1XU​​