Right to vote

The right to vote is summarised below. There are two distinct electoral franchises.

Parliamentary franchise

Parliamentary electors

A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a United Kingdom parliamentary election in any constituency if on the date of the poll they are:

  • registered in the register of parliamentary electors for that constituency;
  • not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart);
  • either a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland; and
  • of voting age

A person is not entitled to vote as an elector:

  • more than once in the same constituency at any parliamentary election
  • in more than one constituency at a general election

Local Government franchise

Local Government electors (who can vote at Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government elections)

A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a local government election in any electoral area if on the date of the poll they are:

  • registered in the register of local government electors for that area
  • not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart)
  • a British, Irish or European Union citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national who has leave to enter or remain in the UK or who does not require such leave
  • of voting age

A person is not entitled to vote as an elector:

  • more than once in the same electoral area at any local government election
  • in more than one electoral area at an ordinary election for a local government area which is not a single electoral area

Entitlement to be registered

A person is entitled to be registered in the register of parliamentary electors for any constituency or part of a constituency if on the relevant date they are:

  • resident in the constituency or that part of it
  • not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart)
  • either a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland; and
  • of voting age

A person is entitled to be registered in the register of local government electors for any electoral area if on the relevant date they are:

  • resident in that area
  • not subject to any legal incapacity vote (age apart)
  • a British, Irish or European Union citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national who has leave to enter or remain in the UK or who does not require such leave
  • of voting age

If your name is not on the electoral register and you think it should be, you can register online or call us on 0800 393 783 to request a paper application form.

Scottish elections

The voting age for Scottish elections has been permanently lowered to 16. You just need to register first. It only takes a few minutes and you can do it online.

You’ll need to provide your date of birth and National Insurance number (you only need your National Insurance number if you are 16 or over), which you can find on official documents such as letters from HM Revenue and Customs. Get help if you have lost your National Insurance number.

Don’t worry – if you are not yet 16 you will not need your National Insurance number to register.

Special registration arrangements

Special arrangements apply for the registration of:

  • British citizens living overseas
  • Members of the armed forces, their spouse or civil partner
  • Crown Servants or British Council employees, their spouse or civil partner
  • Homeless or have no fixed address
  • Remanded in custody (not yet convicted of any offence)
  • Prisoners serving a sentence of 12 months or less
  • Patient in a mental health hospital

For further information call us on 0800 393 783 or e-mail ero@highland.gov.uk

European Union members states

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Citizens of the UK, The Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK.

Commonwealth and British overseas territories

Commonwealth countries

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada,  Dominica, Fiji, Ghana, The Gambia, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Cyprus, Rwanda, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu,  Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Although also EU member states, citizens of the UK, Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK.

British overseas territories

Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antartic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands.

Only those previous residents of Hong Kong who hold a British Overseas Territories, British Nationals (Overseas) or British Overseas passport meet the nationality criterion for all elections in the UK.