Set out below is an overview of the provisions which are coming into force during 2023 and 2024.

Voter ID

Everyone who attends in person to vote at a polling station is now required to show photographic ID.  You can view the list of acceptable documents here


Absent voting

The following provisions are now in force and apply for all election types in England, Police and Crime Commissioner and UK Parliamentary elections in Wales, and UK Parliamentary elections in Scotland:

  • electors will have the option to apply for a postal vote and some types of proxy vote using a new online portal
  • new identity verification requirements will be introduced for all absent vote applications, whether they are made online or by the paper route, with the exception of emergency proxies
  • all applications will be subject to a DWP check similar to the process for applications to register to vote
  • for applicants whose identity cannot be verified by the DWP check, there will be a need to follow an exceptions process and, failing that, an attestation process
  • postal vote arrangements will be limited to a maximum of three years, at which point the elector will need to make a new application
  • the total number of electors for whom a person may act as a proxy will be limited to four, of which no more than two can be domestic electors (for example, an elector that is neither an overseas elector nor a service voter)
  • all electors who have a permanent proxy vote were required to reapply for their proxy vote before 31 January 2024
  • the personal identifiers (PI) refresh process for proxy voters and postal voters at devolved polls remains the same, however, and will continue to operate on the five-year refresh cycle

You can apply vote by post here or apply to vote by proxy here

Overseas electors

The following provisions came into force in January 2024:

  • the removal of the 15-year limit on expatriates' right to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. All British citizens overseas who were previously registered or resident in the UK will be enfranchised
  • the registration period will be extended to a maximum of three years and renewals will be set to a fixed point of 1 November, in line with the updated absent voting provisions for overseas electors
  • overseas electors will have the option to re-apply for a postal or refresh their proxy vote, which will then be 'tied' to the new three-year period of registration (unless a shorter period for the absent vote is specified by the elector and it therefore expires before)

Postal vote handling and secrecy

These provisions will be in effect for polls taking place from May 2024. There will be new restrictions on the handling of postal votes, including:

  • a ban on political campaigners handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is their own, that of a close family member or someone that they provide regular care for
  • limits on the number of postal votes that a person can hand in at polling stations and council offices
  • any person who hands in postal votes at polling stations or council offices will be required to complete a form
  • secrecy requirements will be extended to postal and proxy votes

EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights (EUVCR)

These provisions come into force in November 2023 but will only take effect after the scheduled elections in May 2024.

In England the general right of European Union citizens to register, vote, and stand in UK elections which use the local election franchise will be removed. In Wales, this will be the case for Police and Crime Commissioner elections but not for local government elections.

Two groups of EU citizens will retain their voting and candidacy rights:

  • 'Qualifying EU citizens' - citizens of EU countries which have a reciprocal agreement with the UK Government, currently Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain - these countries are sometimes referred to as the EU4
  • 'EU citizens with retained rights' - EU citizens from any other EU country who were already legally resident in the UK before 31.12.2020 - these countries are sometimes referred to as the EU20

This change will not affect the rights of citizens from Ireland, Malta or Cyprus.

  • you will need to identify EU citizens who should have their eligibility reviewed as part of an Eligibility Confirmation and Review (ECR) process
  • you will need to write to electors that you identify as being 'Qualifying EU citizens' and 'EU citizens with retained rights', to inform them that they are eligible to remain registered and that they do not need to take any action
  • there will also be a change to the application process in order to determine applications under the new eligibility criteria

Changes to candidacy rights

  • the changes to candidacy rights for EU citizens are due to come into force from 7 May 2024; transitional arrangements will enable EU citizens elected to office before this date to remain in office for their full term
  • after this date EU citizens standing as candidates will need to have been legally resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 (have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or do not require such leave) or be a citizen from an EU4 country (Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain) in order to be eligible to stand as a candidate
  • you will need to consider how you will factor these changes into your training and briefing for team members to ensure the understand the new rules when supporting candidates and agents and managing the nomination process