How to vote

Voting by post

Where electors have a postal vote in place, we'll send you a postal poll card shortly before the election. This will tell you when your postal ballot papers are likely to arrive and/or what to do in the unlikely event that you don't receive them.

Anyone can apply to have their ballot papers sent to them by post rather than visiting a polling station. To do this you will need to complete a postal vote application form. You can choose to vote by post:

  • for the 'maximum period' (up to 3 years)
  • for an election held on a particular date
  • for all future elections until a certain specified date

We must receive your completed postal vote application form by a specific date during an election timetable to put it in place. This date is no later than 11 working days before polling day. You can always find the exact date on the relevant web page for the election taking place.

Changes to completing an application

As of 31 October 2023, you will need to supply your national insurance number on postal vote applications as well as your signature and date of birth. All application forms we send out (and including the downloadable version above) will be changed to reflect this. 

If you have an old version of the application form that you have not returned to us, you will either need to return it and ensure it reaches us before 31 October or write your national insurance number onto the application. Any applications we receive after 31 October without a national insurance number, we will need to contact you in order to obtain before your application can be processed.

Apply online via a new service

From 31 October 2023, you will also be able to apply for a postal vote online. Online applications will still need to contain a national insurance number.

You can apply online.

Downloadable forms

You can download a printable copy of the application form to vote by post.

What happens next?

Once we receive your application, we will process it and issue a confirmation letter.

We aim to send out ballot papers by first class post approximately two weeks before polling day. If your pack doesn't arrive, you can apply for a new one, but only between five working days before polling day and 5:00 p.m. on the day of poll.

How long will my postal vote be in place for?

As of 31 October 2023, permanent postal vote applications ('until further notice') have been replaced by the 'maximum period' (3 years). Once your 3 year period expires, you will need to renew your postal vote application. We will write to you when the time comes.

If you decide to cancel your postal vote application at any point, this will need to be done in writing. If you are cancelling during an election timetable because you wish to vote at a polling station, you will need to make sure we receive your cancellation 11 working days prior to the poll

If you have a disability

If you have a disability preventing you from signing your postal vote application form, we can waive the need for you to provide a signature. We may need somebody to verify this for you. Contact us for the appropriate application form if you'd like to apply for a signature waiver.

Returning your postal vote

From May 2024 onwards, though returning postal vote packs by a Royal Mail post box will continue as normal, those who choose to hand their postal vote packs in at a polling station or at the offices of Castle House will only be able to hand in a total of 6 (your own and up to 5 others). You will also be asked to fill in a form when handing postal votes in at a polling station or our offices. Based on new legislation, any postal vote packs handed into a polling station or the offices of Castle House by someone who does not complete a form will be rejected and not included in the vote.

Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal vote packs entirely.

Further information

Further information on how to complete an application is available on the Electoral Commission website.