You need to register in order to vote in any UK elections or referendums. Registering to vote gives you the opportunity to have your say on issues that you care about – everything from roads and recycling in your area, to education and climate change. It is very important that you register to vote.
The Ministry of Defence and The Electoral Commission work closely to try to ensure you have all the information you need so that, if you want to vote, you can. Each year in the autumn they run information campaigns. Each unit also has a Unit Registration Officer, and they’ll hold an electoral registration day where you can ask questions and find out all about your registration and voting options – ask your URO when your registration day is and make sure you attend.
What are my registration options?
If you’re a member of the Armed Forces, or the husband, wife or civil partner of someone in the Armed Forces, you can register to vote either as a Service Voter or as an ordinary voter. The way you choose to register to vote is up to you and will depend on your personal circumstances.
- If you’re based overseas, or expect to be posted abroad in the next year, it makes sense to register as a Service Voter. This allows you to be registered at a fixed address in the UK even if you move around. A Service Voter registration also lasts for five years, so once you’re registered, you shouldn’t have to worry about it while you’re busy overseas. Use the links on the left to register as a service voter.
- If you’re based in the UK and are unlikely to change address or be posted overseas in the next year, you can register as an ordinary voter. This is the type of registration where you’ll receive an annual canvass registration form through the post at your address once a year between mid-August and November. Ordinary voters need to re-register every year (annually). You don’t need to wait for the annual canvass if you want to register as a service voter.
Whichever way you choose to register, its very important that you tell your local electoral registration office if you change address. If you don’t, you won’t receive important information like a reminder of when you need to re-register, or information about elections in your area. You can use our change of circumstances form to inform your electoral registration office of changes to your details. You’ll need to send it back to the local office – you can get their postal address and other contact details by entering your postcode on this site.
How can I vote? What if I’m abroad on election day?
As you probably know, most people vote in person by going to a polling station in the UK. But don’t worry if you’re abroad at the time of the election or have another reason why you won’t be able to vote in person on the day - you can apply to vote by post or by proxy (someone voting on your behalf). Have a look at the link below for more information. If you’re based abroad, you need to be aware that, due to election timetables, you may not receive your ballot paper until shortly before election day. Depending on where you’re based, there may not be enough time for you to return your ballot before voting closes (10pm on election day), so voting by post may not be the best way for you to vote. In these circumstances we would encourage you to appoint a proxy in the UK to vote on your behalf. Proxies can themselves apply to vote for you by post, if this is easiest for them. You can also find more information on postal and proxy voting on the link below.