The way we vote is changing. Find out all you need to know ahead of the local May elections.
From May 2023, you will need to bring photo identification with you to vote in election, in addition to being registered to vote. This new requirement was introduced in the Elections Act 2022.
It’s crucial that you and your local residents are aware of the changes so they aren’t caught out by the new requirements at this years elections and in the future. The Electoral Commission has a range of digital and printable public awareness resources available, which you can use to communicate the new Voter ID requirements to your residents
What photo ID will be accepted?
- Passports issued by the UK government, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
- Expired passports are acceptable, as long as the photo still looks like you.
Driving licences and parking:
- Driving licences issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state
- Provisional driving licences issued by the same
- Expired driving licences and provisional licences are acceptable, as long as the photo still looks like you
- A Blue Badge.
Local travel documents:
- Older Person’s Bus Pass
- Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- Oyster 60+ Card
- Freedom Pass
- Scottish National Entitlement Card
- 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card
- Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card
- Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- War Disablement SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland.
Proof of age cards:
- Any identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram, for example:
- My ID Card
- NUS Totum ID Card
- One ID4U Card.
Other identity documents:
- Biometric immigration document or card
- Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card), commonly known as the MOD90
- National identity card issued by an European Economic Area state
- Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland.
Don’t have suitable photo ID?
You can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC).
A VAC needed to be applied for at least six working days before an election. You can check what other forms of photo ID is accepted above or on the Electoral Commission website.
How does the application process work?
The application process and identification you will receive is free and can be done online through the Government’s website or you can do a paper application via the post through your local council.
Information you will need to provide
When applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, you will need to provide your:
- date of birth
- National Insurance number.
In addition, you will need to submit a photo with your application. The requirements for the photo are similar to the requirements for a passport photo. If you need help taking a photo, then your local council will be able to do this for you.
You should apply using the same name that you used to register to vote and your certificate will not have a gender marker.
What if you don't know your National Insurance number or don't have one?
You can find your National Insurance number on:
- official letters about tax, pensions or benefits.
You can still apply if you don’t know your National Insurance number or don’t have one. But you'll need to provide other forms of proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, bank statement and a utility bill.
What if you are a postal voter?
You don't need photo ID to vote by post. This means you won't need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate if you choose to vote this way.
What if you are an anonymous elector?
If you are registered to vote anonymously and want to vote in person, you’ll need to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document. If you are already registered to vote anonymously, your council will invite you to apply for your Document. You can find the contact information for your local election teams by search on the Electoral Commission Elections in your area finder.
Processing your application
Your local council will process your application. They will send the Voter Authority Certificate to you by post. They will also send you instructions on how to use your certificate.
All data you provide when applying for a certificate will be stored securely by your local council, in line with data protection regulations.
If you need any help with applying for a Voter Authority Certificate or have more questions, you can call the Electoral Commission helpline on 0800 328 0280.
Please also see our voter ID FAQs page for further information.
What if your Voter Authority Certificate doesn’t arrive in time?
If you applied for your VAC before the deadline of 5 pm, 6 working days before the election and your application was approved but you do not receive your VAC in time for the poll, you can contact your local Electoral Registration Officer for a temporary VAC. The temporary document will be issued by the council and will only be valid for the specific polling day. You will need to collect it from the council offices or other location as set by the electoral team.
Contact your local electoral services team
What if you loose your identification document close to polling day?
If you lose your ID or if it is stolen, destroyed or damaged beyond use before the deadline for a Voter Authority Certificate, you should apply for a VAC through the usual process. If you lose or otherwise can’t use your ID after the deadline for applying for a VAC, you can request to vote via an emergency proxy. This means your appointed proxy will vote on your behalf. You will need to contact your local Electoral Registration Officer to request to appoint an emergency proxy. You must do this before 5 pm on the day of the poll and the proxy must have their own photo ID available to vote on your behalf.