Register to vote

Why should you register?

There are many reasons to be listed on the electoral register, here are just a few.

  • If you are not registered, you cannot vote. In order to vote in any UK elections, you have to be listed on the electoral register. 
  • Voting gives you a say on who represents you in your local council and in Parliament, giving you a say on important issues that affect you – from education and the environment, to roads and housing.
  • It only takes a few minutes to register online. Just visit the Gov.uk website and complete the online form. You will need your national insurance number to hand.
  • If you are not on the register you may find it harder to get a mortgage, loan, finance agreement, or even a mobile phone contract because the register is used by credit reference agencies.
  • Because elections can be called quickly at any time, if you are not registered, you may miss the opportunity to vote in an election which is called quickly.

Further information can be found on the Your Vote Matters website.

Further details can be found on our Privacy Notice for Electoral Registration.

Who can apply to register to vote?

Nationality

You can register to vote if you are:

  • a UK citizen
  • a qualifying Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK (someone who has leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not require such leave) or
  • an EU citizen resident in the UK.

Age

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you can register to vote if you are 17 years old (and in some cases, if you are 16). And you can vote when you are 18.

Further details can be found on the Electoral Commission website. 

How to register

You can register online at Gov.uk. This is quickest and easiest way to register and it only takes a few minutes. You will need your national insurance number to hand. Once you have completed the online form, your data will be verified and, if you live in the West Suffolk area, sent to us to complete the registration.

You can also register to vote by completing a paper voting registration form and, if you live in the West Suffolk area, by sending it to Electoral Services, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3YU. 

Completed registration forms can be sent to us by email at elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk

How to opt out of the open register

The ‘open register’ which is also known as the edited register, is an edited version of the electoral register. It is available to anyone who wants to buy a copy and can be used, for example, by businesses and charities as a marketing tool.

Users of the open register may include:

  • Councils, when contacting local residents
  • Charities, when undertaking fundraising activities
  • Letting agents and landlords, when undertaking identity checks
  • Marketing companies, when updating their mailing lists
  • Debt collection agencies, when attempting to trace individuals
  • Businesses, when checking the identity and addresses details of people who apply for their goods and services.

Unless you ask for them to be removed, your name and address will be included in the open register.

It is a simple process to remove your details from the open register and this does not affect your right to vote or your credit status.

You can request for your details to be removed from the open register by completing the online form below, sending an email to elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk or by writing to Electoral Services, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3YU. You will need to give us your name and address and tell us whether you want to be included or excluded from the open register.

Further details can be found on our Privacy Notice for Electoral Registration.

What to do if you move house

When you move house you need to re-register to your new address. The following information will show you how to do this.

Moving within West Suffolk

If your new address is within the West Suffolk area, you can inform us by sending an email to: elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk or by writing to Electoral Services, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3YU.

When you register to your new address, we will make sure you are removed from the register at your old address.

Moving outside of West Suffolk

If you are moving outside of the West Suffolk area, you should notify your new council. Contact details of local councils can be found on the Gov.uk website.

When you register to your new address, your new local council will make sure that you are removed from the register at your old address.

Am I registered?

If you live within West Suffolk, you can find out if you are registered to vote by sending us an email to elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk or by writing to Electoral Services, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3YU. 

If you live outside of the West Suffolk area, you can find out which your local council here.

Further details can be found on our Privacy Notice for Electoral Registration. 

Overseas electors

British citizens living abroad, can vote in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections but cannot vote in local elections. If you are a UK citizen living abroad, you can apply to be an overseas voter.

You must have been registered to vote in the United Kingdom in the last 15 years and be eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections. If you have lived abroad for more than 15 years, you cannot vote in UK elections.

You can register online at Gov.uk.

Voting as an overseas elector

Once you are registered to vote as an overseas elector, you can apply to vote by post or vote by proxy.  

Voting by post from overseas

If you are a registered overseas elector, you can apply to vote by post but you must consider whether you have enough time to apply for, receive and return your postal vote. If you wish to continue to vote by post, you will need to renew your postal vote every year, along with your overseas registration.

Voting by proxy from overseas

If you are a registered overseas elector, you can apply  to vote by proxy. This means you can appoint another person (a 'proxy') to vote on your behalf. A proxy can vote by post, if previously arranged, or attend your normal polling station to vote in person, using a special polling card.

If you move back to the UK as a full time resident, you can register to vote using your permanent address and be granted full voting rights.

Declarations of local connection

You can register to vote even if you do not have a fixed address. You may not have a fixed address because you are:

  • homeless
  • a person remanded in custody
  • a patient in a mental health hospital
  • a member of the gypsy or travelling community
  • living on a boat.

If you are staying at an address for a continued period of time, then you may be considered as residing there and can register at that address. This could include hostels, hospitals or prisons.

If you do not have a permanent address, you can register at an address where you spend a substantial part of your time or have a connection. This could be a hostel, a friend’s house or a day centre.

You can register by filling in a form called a 'Declaration of local connection'. The form can be found on the Gov.uk website.