The main criteria you must satisfy in order to be registered to vote are:-


Electors must apply for registration at the address at which they currently reside, that being their usual and permanent place of residence and not a temporary residence such as a holiday home or second home used very much as a subsidiary residence.


In Scotland, you can register to vote if you are 14. You can vote in local and Scottish Parliamentary election when you are 16. The voting age for UK Parliamentary (Westminster) elections is 18.


Persons entitled to be registered are:

1. British Citizens

2. A qualifying Commonwealth citizen who has leave to remain in the UK or does not require such leave

3. Citizens of The Republic Of Ireland.

The citizens listed 1 -3 above have, subject to any other statutory restriction, full voting rights at all types of elections and referendums.

4. Citizens of Other European Union Countries

5. Foreign Nationals (From August 2020) – who have leave to remain in the UK or do not require such leave

The citizens listed in 4 & 5 above, are entitled to vote at Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections only, although they may be included in National Referendums depending on the relevant franchise restrictions for the event. They are not eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections.

Registration requiring a declaration

Service Electors (HM Forces, Crown Servants & British Council Employees abroad)

Service electors can register by making a service declaration every five years, or they can simply register in the same way as any other elector by completing an application.


From April 2020 those prisoners who have been sentenced to 12 months or less can register to vote at local government elections at:

  • the address in Scotland at which they would be living if they were not convicted, or
  • if they cannot give such an address:
    • at an address in Scotland where they used to live before they were convicted, or
    • if they were previously homeless, an address in Scotland where, or which is nearest to a place where, they commonly spent a substantial amount of time, or
    • if they cannot give any address as described above, or can only give an address at which they are prevented from returning to live because of a court order:
    • at the penal institution

Overseas Electors

British citizens who have ceased to be normally resident in the UK and presently reside overseas can register to vote in this country.

Please note that an Overseas Elector cannot vote at Scottish Parliamentary or Local Government Elections or any referendums held on this franchise.  They are eligible to vote at UK Parliamentary elections.

British citizens living abroad are now eligible to register regardless of how long they have been living outside the UK.  New legislation came into effect on 16th January 2024 removing the previous 15-year time limit.

Applicants are able to register in respect of one of the following criteria:-

  • Previously REGISTERED in the UK
  • Previously RESIDENT in the UK

You can register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Applicants will be required to renew their application every 3 years.  This has been amended from annually.

Declaration of Local Connection

Existing legislation recognises “notional residence” which can be applicable to the Homeless, Mental Health Patients or Remand Prisoners. Each must make an annual declaration in order to be included in the Register.

  • Homeless People – a person can make a declaration to be registered at any place where they spend a substantial part of their time, day or night or for the address nearest that place. This could be, for example, a day centre or any other place where a person habitually resides.
  • Mental Health Patients & Remand Prisoners – such persons can be registered at the institution where they are resident; an address where they would otherwise be living or an address where they have previously lived.