Anyone included in the 'register of electors' can apply to vote by post.
To apply you must:
- already be registered to vote
- have been 'confirmed' under the Individual Electoral Registration System (introduced June 2014)
Apply for a postal vote
- complete an application form to request a postal vote - print the form and complete it using black ink, an original is needed as part of the anti-fraud checks, scans/copies may not be of sufficient quality for signature matching
- provide your date of birth and signature on the application form (if you have trouble providing a consistent signature, you may apply for a waiver, contact us for a 'Waiver Postal Vote Application Form')
- return your completed form to the Electoral Registration Officer no later than 5.00pm on the eleventh working day before an election
Do not email your application form; this will delay processing as we need an original signature during checking.
Receiving your postal vote
Our Returning Officer sends out postal votes as soon as possible, but this cannot happen until candidates have been nominated and ballot paper proofs checked.
- can be sent anywhere, either inside or outside of the United Kingdom (UK) (if, for example, you are on holiday in another location)
- are sent by first class post to the address you state on your application form
- are posted out approximately 10 working days before any election, provided you've arranged to vote by post before the start of the election timetable (25 working days before polling day) - if you apply for a postal vote up to 11 days before polling day, we will send your postal ballot paper around 7 working days before polling day
- cannot be sent earlier
- cannot be collected in person
Remember, if the address we're sending your postal vote to is outside the UK, it will take longer for your postal vote to reach you and for you to return it, in order for your vote to be counted.
We can not guarantee delivery and are not responsible for non-delivery by mail providers either inside or outside of the UK.
Completing your postal vote
Instructions on how to complete your postal vote are included in your postal vote pack. You should:
- mark your ballot paper (using black ink*)
- place your ballot paper in the envelope marked 'A'
- sign the security statement** attached to envelope A (do not detach it), and complete your date of birth
- if you've accidentally detached the security statement, place it in envelope 'B'
- place completed envelope A into the return envelope marked 'B'
- return your postal vote before the election deadline
*We ask you to use black ink as this works best in the process of automated security checks. If you use a different colour we may have to make manual checks, however, we will do this to make ensure all votes can be counted.
**When you apply to vote by post you must provide your date of birth and signature. For security reasons the details are repeated on your postal ballot paper and the information must match for your vote to be counted. As the security statement is separated from the ballot paper envelope when it is received, and before the sealed ballot paper envelope is opened, your vote remains private (as with voting in person, which happens in a private polling booth).
Returning your postal vote
- you must mark your postal ballot paper with a vote
- it is a criminal offence for someone else to mark your postal ballot paper
We provide a pre-paid envelope to return your postal vote within the UK. Alternatively, you can hand deliver your postal vote to the 'Returning Officer' at West Offices, during office hours. Postal votes can also be hand delivered to your normal polling station on polling day.
Allow extra time to return your postal vote from outside of the UK. We are not responsible or liable for:
- postage costs to return postal votes from outside the UK (you will have to pay)
- delays caused by postal services inside or outside of the UK
Change of address
Your old postal vote arrangement does not automatically transfer to your new address. If you move house you must:
- tell the Electoral Registration Officer immediately
- re-register to vote
- re-apply for a postal vote
Problems with postal votes
Every postal ballot paper issued is checked by 2 people before being inserted into the pack, as such administrative mistakes are rare.
We only re-issue postal ballot papers when absolutely necessary (when a problem means your vote is not clear); you can deal with some problems yourself:
- if you make a mistake on your postal ballot paper or postal voting statement you can correct it yourself, provided your information and vote are clear
- if your postal ballot paper or postal voting statement is damaged or torn you can repair them yourself, provided your information and vote are clear
We'll need to re-issue postal ballot papers:
- if your postal ballot pack hasn’t arrived 4 days before polling day
- if there's an administrative mistake, such as missing papers or mismatched numbering
- if you lose your postal ballot pack or part of it
- if mistakes or damage mean your information and vote are not clear
Replacement postal voting papers can be re-issued up to 5.00pm on polling day; do not throw away or destroy your papers, as they must be cancelled before a replacement is issued.
You can request replacement voting papers up until 5.00pm on the day of an election, if it is too late for replacements to be posted to you, but to do so you must:
- request a replacment in person at West Offices
- bring your photo ID
- bring the original postal pack with you (if it has been damaged or spoiled)
Cancel your postal vote
Once you have requested a postal vote and it has been issued, you can not vote in person at a polling station.
If you want to cancel your postal vote for any future elections you must write to Electoral Services.
Each person on the electoral register must make a separate written request to cancel their postal vote. Cancellations cannot be requested on behalf of someone else.
Please contact our Electoral Services team if you would like any further advice or assistance with voting.