Voter ID FAQ's

This page answers frequently asked questions on how the voter ID will be implemented, more information is available on the Electoral Commissions' website (external link).  

Why has voter identification been introduced?   

Following a 2019 Manifesto to 'protect the integrity of our democracy, by introducing identification to vote at polling stations' new requirements were introduced by the Elections Act.

Which forms of ID are acceptable? 

A wide range of forms of photo ID are acceptable, please refer to the list of documents. 

Why are some photographic IDs not being accepted as voter ID?

Some forms of photographic identification were ruled out as acceptable voter ID because they did not satisfy the criteria for security. For example, work and student passes and some railcards, such as the 18+ Oyster card, do not have sufficiently secure application processes compared to other forms of identification. 

Will photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents be accepted?   

No, photocopies or copies of images on mobile phones or other electronic devices will not be accepted as photo-editing software could be used to edit them and therefore could be subject to fraudulent alteration.  

Will expired identification still be accepted?   

Yes, expired documents will be accepted as long as the photograph on the document still resembles a likeness of the elector and the name on the ID is the same name you used to register to vote. 

My name on the electoral register and my photographic ID are different, what do i do?   

If your name has changed (for example, through marriage or deed poll), you may be asked to provide additional supporting documents, such as a marriage or civil partnership certificate that provides evidence of the name change.   

If the spelling of your name is spelt incorrectly or an alternative spelling is present to the one on the electoral register, it will be the Presiding Officers discretion on whether they will accept the form of ID at the polling station.  

What are the photograph requirements when submitting an application for a Voter Authority Certificate?   

Anyone wanting to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate must provide a suitable colour photograph either through the GOV.UK  portal application process or submitted with a paper application which meets the following requirements:  

  • A close-up photograph of the head and shoulders  
  • No other items or persons in the background  
  • No covering of the head unless worn for religious beliefs or medical reasons. Your face must not be covered for any reason
  • In focus and clear (not blurry)
  • In colour and taken against a light and plain background  
  • Free from red eye, shadows and not in the reflection of windows or mirrors  
  • Resembles a true likeness of the applicant without alteration 

The applicant photo must show them:   

  • Facing forwards  
  • Without covering your face  
  • Looking straight at the camera  
  • With a plain facial expression  
  • Eyes open and visible (for example, no sunglasses or eyes being covered by hair). Please note this does not apply if you are unable to provide a photograph which complies with either or both of those requirements owing to any disability. If you are unable to meet the requirements due to a disability, then please call our Electoral Services Department on 01353 665555.   

What is the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?   

The deadline is 5:00pm on the sixth working day before the relevant election. Any applications received after the deadline will not be processed until after the relevant election.

Can the Voter Authority Certificate be used as proof of age/identity outside of the polling stations?  

No, the Voter Authority Certificate can only be used as photographic identification for the purposes of elections and voting within the polling station, it cannot be used as proof of age or identity for any other purpose or function. 

What happens if I lose my photographic ID or Voter Authority Certificate?   

If you lose your photographic identity document you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate but only before the legal deadline.   

If you lose or damage your Certificate you can re-apply for a new certificate but only before the legal deadline. The Temporary Certificate will only be valid for the relevant election.   

What will the Voter Authority Certificate look like?     

The Certificate will be A4 in size, printed on special paper and will include your name, your photograph and a number of other details, including the issuing Council, and identifier (a reference containing numbers and letters), the date of issue and a recommended renewal date. 

I have applied for my Voter Authority Certificate however I have not received it yet, what do I do?  

If you have applied before the legal deadline (5pm six working days before the relevant election) contact the Electoral Services department who can investigate this matter for you. Where appropriate, a Temporary Voter Authority Certificate may be issued to you for use in that election. Arrangements will be made for you to collect this Certificate. It will only be given to you, as nobody else is allowed to collect it for you. 

Do I need to re-apply for my Voter Authority Certificate/Anonymous Elector Document if I change my address?   

No, it is not necessary as the Voter Authority Certificate does not show your address. 

How long will a Voter Authority Certificate last for?

Voter Authority Certificates do not expire, but voters should remember to reapply with a new picture if the image on the certificate stops being a good likeness.

I am an anonymous elector, do I need to provide photographic ID?  

Yes. All anonymous electors wishing to vote in person at a polling station will need to apply for an Anonymous Elector's Document. You must present this document at the polling station, together with your poll card. A private area will be available at polling stations so you can choose to have your Anonymous Elector's Document viewed in private. This may be a separate room, or an area separated by a privacy screen, depending on the polling station. 

If you are already registered as an anonymous voter, or you register to vote anonymously, you will be invited to apply for an Anonymous Elector's Document by our Electoral Services Department.

When applying for an Anonymous Elector's Document, you will need to provide your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number. If you don't know your National Insurance number, or don't have one, you can still apply. 

We will contact you to request alternative proof of your identity, this could include a birth certificate, bank statement and utility bill. If you don't have any other accepted proof of identity, then you can ask someone who knows you to confirm your identity to our Electoral Services team. This is known as providing attestation, we can provide more information on who can provide an attestation.

You will also need to submit a photograph with your application. 

You will also need to renew your Anonymous Elector's Document each year.  

What does an Anonymous Elector's Document look like? 

An Anonymous Elector's Document has the words 'Elector's Document' written on the top, and does not refer to your status as being registered to vote anonymously. 

An Anonymous Elector's Document includes the date of issue, your photograph, your electoral number (which is the number which will appear on the electoral register instead of your name and address) and an appropriate identifier (which is a combination of 20 letters and numbers generated by the software used by Electoral Registration Officers). 

What if a voter doesn't want to show ID to vote?

If a voter would prefer not to show ID at a polling station, they can apply to vote by post or proxy. Photo ID isn't required to apply to vote by post or proxy. However, the proxy will be required to show their own photo ID at the polling station. 

Will my poll card change?   

Yes. It will be A4 in size and will include information on the requirements to produce an acceptable form of photographic ID and will list all the identity documents that can be used in a polling station. 

Will there be guidance for polling staff around the types of voter ID that is acceptable?

Yes - there is guidance, handbooks and training on Voter ID, all polling station staff will be effectively trained and prepared.

What happens if I cannot provide acceptable photographic ID at the polling station?    

You will be advised to leave the polling station and to return with one of the acceptable forms of ID to allow the polling station staff to issue a ballot paper.   

What if the voter is known to polling staff, but does not bring acceptable ID?

It is now a legal requirement to bring one of the accepted forms of identification to be issued a ballot. Polling staff will not be able to issue the ballot without first checking the identity document. 

I have a proxy/emergency proxy in place, does my proxy have to bring photographic ID to vote on my behalf?   

If you have appointed a proxy or emergency proxy to vote on your behalf, the proxy must bring their own photographic ID to the polling station. They do not need to bring photographic ID of you (the elector they are voting on behalf of) they only need to bring their own ID.  

If the proxy does not have an acceptable form of photographic ID, they can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate.   

Do I need to show my photographic ID to hand in a postal vote?   

No, electors will not be required to show photographic ID to hand-deliver a postal vote to a polling station.