Full and open electoral registers

There are two registers. Why?

Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers - the full electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The full electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.

The full register is used for electoral purposes - such as making sure only eligible people can vote - and for other limited purposes specified in law. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.

Access to the full electoral register

  • Election staff , political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes.
  • Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision. A copy is also held the Electoral Commission, the Boundary Commission (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics.
  • The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime. The police and security services can also use it for law enforcement.
  • The register is used when calling for jury service.
  • Government department may buy the register from local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applications and employees.
  • Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. The also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent money laundering.

It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.

The open register is an extract of the electoral register but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organization For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.

Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. To check if you are included on the open register, or to ask for your details to be removed, please contact Electoral Services.

Removing your details from the open register would not affect your right to vote.

Access to the open register

Users of the register include:

  • Business checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop on line

  • Business selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers

  • Charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other

  • Charities to help with fundraising and contacting people who have made donations

  • Debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors

  • Direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists

  • Landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential

  • Local councils when identifying and contacting residents

  • Online directory firms to help users of websites find people, such as when re-uniting friends and families

  • Organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies

  • Private sector firms to verify details of job applicants

How to register

Visit Register to vote

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