Home UK Rules Legal Government Voting › Electoral Register and the 'Open Register'
The Electoral Register and 'Open Register'

There are several key differences between the electoral register and the 'open register'. You can register in more than one place, but there are penalties for not registering to vote if you meet the conditions.

Information in this section also explains how to view the electoral register, how to register anonymously, and the process of opting out of the 'open register'.

The Electoral Register (aka Electoral Roll)

Names and addresses of everyone registered to vote are listed on the electoral register (also known as the ‘electoral roll’).

Using the online register to vote service will allow you to:

  • Get your name and address recorded on the electoral roll.
  • Update personal details (e.g. change your name or address).

You can also check whether you have already registered, by:

  • Contacting the nearest Electoral Registration Office (for people who live in England, Scotland, or Wales).
  • Contacting the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI) (for people who live in Northern Ireland).

What If You Do Not Register?

Anyone asked to so, must register to vote. But, an exception for not registering would be if you fail to meet the conditions. As a rule, people with British citizenship should be voting from the age of sixteen (16) upward.

Note: Failing to register when asked to do so can result in a fine. You will avoid a fine if there are valid grounds for not registering (e.g. due to a lengthy hospital stay or having severe learning difficulties).

Registering at Several Addresses

In some cases, the voting rules of United Kingdom allow individuals to register in more than one place. So, even though you can only cast a vote once in any election or referendum, you can register twice if you live at two (2) separate addresses.

Note: As an example, it is not uncommon for students to register at different homes and term-time addresses.

How to View the Current Electoral Register

  • Contact the local Electoral Registration Office (for people living in England, Scotland, or Wales).
  • Contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (for people living in Northern Ireland).

Electoral Office Headquarters (EONI)
St Anne’s House
15 Church Street
Belfast BT1 1ER

Helpline: 028 9044 6680
Email: [email protected]

As a rule, you would be able to view an updated electoral register inside large community libraries. The register lists everyone who is registered to vote in that particular community.

Researching Records of Electoral History

You can research local and family history through the electoral registration section of the National Archives site. The historic versions of the electoral register allow you to research details about local or family history.

The ‘Open Register’

The two versions of the electoral register are the full version and an extract taken from it, referred to as the ‘open register’ (or the ‘edited register’ in Northern Ireland).

How to Opt Out of the Open Register

The ‘open register’ is the extract version of the full register. Anyone can buy a copy of the ‘open register’. But, you can opt out and have your name and address removed by contacting:

  • The local Electoral Registration Office in England, Scotland or Wales.
  • The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI) in Northern Ireland.

Note: Opting out of the ‘open register’ does not affect your legal right to cast your vote in a UK election.

The Full Version Electoral Register

The full version of the electoral register contains the names and addresses of everyone on it. Besides the different types of elections, the full version of the register is also used:

  • In the prevention and detection of crime.
  • To check applications for loans or credit.
  • For jury summoning in England, Wales, and in Northern Ireland.

Register to Vote Anonymously

Are you concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register? Do you feel it could affect your safety or that of someone in the same household? If so, there are ways of registering to vote anonymously through the Electoral Commission.

Electoral Register and ‘Open Register’ Explained for United Kingdom