Frequently Asked Questions
For Information on the Scottish Parliament Election on the 6th May 2021 please click here to visit our dedicated webpage
FAQs: Electoral Registration
Can I register over the phone?
Yes, you can contact our offices on 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas and a member of staff can assist with telephone registration. You can also register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
Can a family member register me?
Everybody needs to register themselves. It’s straightforward and quick and you can register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
If you are unable to register yourself, it’s ok to get help filling in the details, but you must make the declaration yourself.
Do I need to re-register each year?
Once you’re registered you don’t need to register again unless you change address. You should however return the form, called a Household Enquiry Form, that you will receive every year which confirms who is living at your address. You should also inform us if any of your details (such as your name) change.
I moved house, am I still registered?
When you move home you need to register at your new address. You can do this at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Or you can contact our offices on 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas and a member of staff can assist with telephone registration.
Can I register at two addresses?
Normally people are registered at one address – their permanent home address. Students may register at both their term-time address and their non-term-time address. If you are living somewhere temporarily but have a permanent address elsewhere, you should register at the permanent address.
Having a second home doesn’t necessarily mean that you can register there as well as at your permanent address. A person’s name may appear on the electoral register only if they reside at an address within the electoral area. In Scotland, the courts have held that for a person to establish residency at an address the person must have a substantive home at that address. Based on this criterion, it is possible for a person to be registered to vote in two different electoral areas.
However, it is unlikely that ownership of a second home that is used only for recreational purposes would meet the residency qualification. Ownership of a second home that a voter pays council tax on but is not resident in does not qualify them to be registered to vote in that area. It is for the local Electoral Registration Officer to decide in the light of an individual voter’s circumstances whether they may be said to be resident at an address, and therefore eligible for registration. Electoral Registration Officers are required to consider each case on its own merits.
Must I register and what happens if I don’t?
If we have invited you to register to vote it is important that you respond. If you don’t, we will send you reminders through the post and someone will visit your home. At the end of this process we may send you a requirement to register; if you fail to do so without providing adequate reason why you have not, you may be fined £80 (this fine does not apply to 14 or 15 year-olds). Not being registered can also impact on applications for mortgages or mobile phones, since credit reference agencies use the register to validate applications.
How do I change my name on the register?
If your name has changed you can complete a change of name form with your previous and new name and the date of the change. Go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or you can contact our offices on 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas.
Can I vote by post?
To vote by post you must be registered to vote. To register go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or you can contact our offices on 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas. You can download a postal vote application from this website. www.electoralcommission.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-03/Application%20to%20vote%20by%20post.pdf or we can post or email a form out to you. You can ask for a postal vote application at the same time as you apply to be registered. After completing the form you will need to print it, sign it, and send it back to us.
When will I receive my ballot papers?
Postal ballots can only be sent out once the deadline to become a candidate has passed and the ballot papers have subsequently been produced and printed. You can contact us to find out when your postal ballot papers will be issued. Call 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas.
If you have no fixed address you can still register to vote. You need to make something called a ‘declaration of local connection’ to show that you are connected to and spend time at a particular place. You can normally do this only for one place. If you want more information on this contact the ERO on 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas
I live overseas, can I register?
British citizens living abroad can vote in UK Parliamentary elections, but not in local elections or elections to devolved bodies such as the Scottish Parliament. British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years are not eligible to register to vote in UK elections. You can register as an overseas elector at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote with the local authority for the address where you were last registered in the UK.
Can I register anonymously?
Anonymous registration is available if your safety or that of any other person in the same household would be at risk if your name or address were made public. A separate application form must be completed in writing – you are not able to register anonymously online. If you want more information on this contact the ERO on 01586 555 300 for Argyll & Bute Council area or 0141 562 1200 for East and West Dunbartonshire Council areas
I am a service voter, how do I register?
A member of HM Forces and their spouse or civil partner can register as an ordinary elector or they have the option to register as a service voter. Under 18s living with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM Forces may also register as service voter. To qualify, the young person must either be living in Scotland or would be living in Scotland if their parent or guardian were not based overseas.)
You can register as a service voter by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Only those aged 16 or over can apply online to register as a service voter. Those aged 14 or 15 who wish to apply to register as a service voter must complete a paper application form, but which can be scanned and emailed to
email@example.com – Argyll & Bute Council
firstname.lastname@example.org – West Dunbartonshire Council
email@example.com – East Dunbartonshire Council
A service declaration is valid for five years. Each unit of the services has designated one member of staff to be a Unit Registration Officer who will be able to provide further advice. Under 18s living with a parent or guardian who is a member of HM Forces, the young person must renew their service declaration every year and it will cease having effect when they turn 18. At that point, they will need to make a new application to register reflecting their current circumstances.