Registering to Vote
Register to vote online
The easiest and quickest way to register to vote is online. It takes about 5 minutes. All you need to provide are your:
- Date of birth
- National insurance number
Updating the electoral register – the annual canvass
Every year we update the electoral register to confirm who is eligible to vote. This is called the annual canvass. We send a canvass form to every household in the borough, which lists the current details on the electoral register for your property. Firstly, all residents are sent a form via email. If there is no response, or we don't have an email address for you, we will send a paper form.
Responding after receiving an email
If we have your email address, we may also send you an email to remind you to update or confirm your household details online. If you entered your email address when you registered to vote, we are allowed to use it for electoral purposes. This email will also include your two security codes.
- The sender of the email will be ‘Electoral Services - Lewisham Council’
- The email address will be email@example.com
This is an official email account that we use. If you update or confirm your details by email, you do not need to return your paper form.
The paper forms
Two different forms are sent:
- A shorter form that only needs to be returned if you need to change any details
- A longer form that must be completed and returned to us
The form will explain what you need to do. Read it carefully and follow the instructions.
What you need to do
One member of the household must update or confirm the names of anyone aged 16 or over who live at your property. Please remember to:
- check that all the details are correct
- add any missing names that should be on the form
- cross out any names of people that have moved out
- confirm that everything is correct, even if there are no changes
- return the form as soon as you get it
How to return the form
You can return the form online or by post. If there are no changes, you can let us know by texting 80212 or by calling 0800 197 9871.
Return the form right away and help save us money on printing reminder forms and employing canvassers – we can spend this money on other vital services.
We will send out forms by post around mid-July, with regular reminders after that. The online, telephone and text response services will be live from July to 30 November
If you don’t return the form
Every property is legally required to return a form. If you don’t return the form, you may get a fine. If you don’t return it promptly, we have to print and send out more forms. We employ canvassers who visit properties to help people return their forms. We will keep sending forms until 1 December when the register is published. If you don’t respond, we may remove your name from the electoral register. This means you can’t vote and your credit score will be affected.
If you need a new form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8314 6086 to request a new one.
Who can register to vote?
You must be:
- 18 or over. If you are 17 you can complete a registration form so you can vote when you turn 18
- registered to vote at the address where you live. If you change your address you need to register as soon as you move
- a British, Commonwealth, Irish or European Union citizen. However, citizens of European Union member countries are only allowed to vote in local and European elections.
- British citizens living overseas can register to vote for UK Parliamentary elections only
We usually publish an updated version of the electoral register on the first working day of each month. If you want to be added to the register in time for its next publication date, you need to return your registration form to us before the deadline for that month, which is around three weeks before the first of the month, get in touch with us for a list of deadlines
Credit reference agencies use the electoral register to confirm addresses. They usually receive the register on the first working day of each month. Note that it may take them a few days to update their database.
The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote.
It is used for:
- electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote
- security, law enforcement and crime prevention reasons
- election staff, political parties, candidates and elected officials use the register for electoral purposes
- The Electoral Commission, boundary commissions (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics hold copies of the register.
- the police and the security services can use it for law enforcement
- courts use the electoral register to call people for jury service
- government departments can buy the register \and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking
- the background of job applicants and employees
- credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks for the prevention and detection of money laundering
It is illegal to share or use the electoral register for any other reason. The information in the register must be used in line with data protection laws.
You can see a copy of the electoral register under supervision at the Council or the British Library.
The open register is an extract of the electoral register but is not used for electoral purposes. Any person, company or organisation can buy a copy of the open register. For example, businesses and charities use it to confirm name and address details. The information in the open register must be used in line with data protection laws.
Steps to remove your details from the open register
- Your name and address will be in the open register unless you ask for us to remove them
- If you want to take your details off the open register, send us an email or letter and include your name and address
- We will then remove your details from the open register on the next publication date
Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote or your credit score.
If you have moved address, register to vote at the new address to move your registration to the new property. If someone is registered at your address and now needs to be removed, contact the electoral services team by letter or email, and provide the details of the name, address and reason for removal. We will remove the entry from the register on the next publication date.
Registering to vote in any of these categories is easy and can be done from the regular online registration page. Simply select the appropriate category and follow the instructions. In some cases, you will be required to renew your registration annually, or every 5 years.
To apply for anonymous registration, you must be eligible to vote in UK elections. You can only apply for anonymous registration if:
- you are escaping from domestic violence
- your safety, or the safety of someone you live with, may be at risk if your details appear on the register
- your occupation means you must keep your identity private
Note you cannot use anonymous registration as an ex-directory scheme.
How to apply
Contact us if you want to register as an anonymous elector. You will need to give us evidence to support your application, such as:
- a court order
- a valid injunction for your protection
- a letter from a qualified professional e.g. a police officer of superintendent rank or above
- a letter from the director general of the Security Service or the National Crime Agency
- a letter from a director of adult or children’s social services
- a copy of a court order or attestation for someone at risk and proof that you live in the same household as that person
After you apply
If your application is successful, your anonymous registration lasts for one year. We will write to you three months before your registration is due to expire.