Voting by post or proxy
How to vote by post and when you can get someone else to vote on your behalf.
Voting by post
Voting by post is easy. If you are on the electoral register, you can vote by post.
You can vote by post at just one election, for a set period, or to last as long as you like.
Each person has to apply for his or her own postal vote - no one can do it on your behalf.
To apply for a postal vote, download our Postal vote application form [77kb], fill it in and send it back to us. The sooner you return the application, the earlier we will send you your postal vote before the election.
You can also scan your application form and email it to us, as long as you have provided a wet signature on the original.
We must receive your application at least 11 working days before an election for you to be able to vote.
We will use the information you provide as a check against the security statement you complete with your ballot paper at an election.
If you change your name
You will need to complete a new Postal vote application form [77kb].
If you can't provide a consistent specimen signature
Please contact us for advice on other ways you can vote. You can do this using the contact details on this page.
Filling in your ballot paper
We usually send out ballot papers two weeks before the election. Please follow the instructions closely. If you lose or destroy them, please get in touch with us immediately using the contact details on the right of this page.
Getting someone to vote on your behalf - proxy voting
You can also get someone to vote on your behalf at your polling station. This is known as voting by proxy. Your proxy needs to be on the electoral register to qualify to be appointed as a proxy.
Not everyone is allowed to do this - you need to give us a valid reason, such as:
- You can't get to the polling station for one particular election - perhaps because you are away on holiday
- You have a physical condition that prevents you from getting to the polling station
- You won't be able to get to the polling station because of your job or because you are on a college course
- You are a British citizen living abroad
- You are in the Armed Forces or a crown servant
You can apply for a proxy vote if you are over 18 and on the electoral register.
To apply for a proxy vote, download our Proxy vote application form [49kb], fill it in and send it back to us.
You can also scan the application form and email it to us as long as you have provided a wet signature.
We must receive your application at least six working days before the election unless you have unforeseen health problems after this deadline. In this case, you can apply for an emergency medical proxy.
In an emergency, you can appoint someone to vote on your behalf at a particular election up to 5pm on polling day.
You can do this in the following circumstances:
- If you have a medical condition, illness or disability that happens after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
- If you are a mental health patient detained under civil powers
- if your occupation, service or employment means you cannot go to the polling station in person and you became aware of this after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
If you apply for an emergency proxy, your reason for a proxy vote will need verifying.
Who can be your proxy
A person can only be a proxy for close relatives and up to two other people at an election or referendum.
The proxy should be able to attend your polling station to vote on your behalf.
Close relatives are the spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the applicant.
The person you want to appoint as your proxy must be aged 18 or over and registered individually for that election or referendum.
If your proxy is unable to attend your polling station on election day, he or she can also apply to vote by post for you.
The proxy can do this at any time, but must return the application to us before the deadline for postal votes. This is earlier than the proxy vote deadline.
We will send the ballot paper to the address the proxy has asked us to use. The proxy then fills in your ballot paper and send the vote back to us.
We send ballot papers out between five and ten working days before an election, depending on when we received your application.
If you have a postal proxy vote, you can't change your mind and vote at the polling station on the day.
Make a change to postal or proxy vote
If you already have a postal or proxy vote and decide you want to cancel it, you can do so using our online form: