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Registering to vote

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in Northern Ireland elections and referendums. Find out who can register, why you should register and how to register to vote.

The electoral register

The register of electors (sometimes called the 'electoral roll') is a list of the names and addresses of everyone in Northern Ireland who is registered to vote. It's also used by credit reference agencies to check applications for credit.

Once you are registered, you will be able to vote in various types of election:

  • UK Parliament
  • European Parliament
  • local government
  • Northern Ireland Assembly

Who can register to vote

You can register to vote if you are:

  • a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of a Member State of the European Union
  • 17 or over (though you are only eligible to vote when you are 18 or over)
  • living in Northern Ireland for at least three months prior to your application for registration

You cannot vote if you are not on the Electoral Register.

If you want to register you will need to contact the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland (EONI) and obtain a registration form or download a form from its website. The EONI has seven Area Electoral Offices in addition to the Headquarters in Belfast. You can use whichever office is most convenient for you.

Why should you register to vote

You cannot vote if you are not registered, but if you do register you can also get a free Electoral Identity Card which is widely accepted as proof of identity for domestic travel and opening a bank account.

You can check to see if you are registered by phoning the Electoral Office Helpline on:

  • phone: 0800 4320 712

The staff will be able to tell you whether you are registered at your current address and, if not, what you need to do.

How to register to vote

The Register is continually updated using information obtained from electors and various organisations such as government bodies and schools. Any person who is eligible can register at any time.

Updates to the Register are published on the first working day of each month and a revised version of the Register is published on 1 December each year. There is no annual canvass of electors in Northern Ireland.

Who can use your details

There are two versions of the electoral register:

  • the 'full register' is mainly used for elections, but can also be used for other purposes such as preventing and detecting crime, and checking applications for loans or credit
  • the 'edited register' is available for general sale and can be used for marketing and other commercial activities

Your name and address will automatically appear on the full register, but you can choose to have your name omitted from the edited register by ticking a box on the registration form.

The electoral register is also used to pick people at random for jury service.

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