How to register to vote

Information on how you can register to vote, what the register is used for and how you can inspect it

You can now register to vote online. You will need your National Insurance number and date of birth. You can still register without your National Insurance Number but you must explain why you cannot provide it and will normally be asked to provide another form of ID.

Register to vote

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in elections and referendums. The register is a list of people who are eligible to vote in the North Devon area. This list is updated throughout the year to remove people who are no longer in the area or add people who have reached voting age or moved into North Devon. The list is a public document and you must ensure that you are included on it. If your name is not included on the list you will not be able to vote at any elections that take place.

​Why you should register to vote

  • the electoral register is used by credit reference agencies to check your name and address if you are applying for credit
  • if your name is not on the register, you may not be able to obtain credit, a mortgage or a mobile phone contract
  • schools may use the electoral register to check that you live within their catchment area
  • it is a criminal offence to refuse to complete the registration form or to give false information, carrying a fine of up to £1,000

Who can register to vote

You can register to vote if you are 16 years of age and over, resident in the UK and you are:

  • a UK citizen
  • a qualifying Commonwealth citizen
  • a citizen of the Irish Republic
  • a citizen of the European Union (EU)
  • not legally excluded from voting

The electoral register

We make and keep two versions of the register of electors – a full version and an edited version.

Full register

The full version of the electoral register lists everyone who is entitled to vote. By law, it can only be used for electoral purposes, prevention and detection of crime and checking your identity when you apply for credit. It is a criminal offence to pass it on to anyone else or to use it for any other purpose.

Edited or open register

The edited version of the register leaves out the names and addresses of people who have asked to be excluded from it. It is available for sale and can be used by anyone for any purpose. For example, direct mailing companies may use it to send you information about goods and services.

Removing your details from the public register

You can choose not to have your details on the open register. You should mark your preference when you apply to register to vote.

Viewing the register of electors

The register of electors for North Devon Council is available for inspection by appointment at:

  • Lynton House, Barnstaple
  • The Ilfracombe Centre
  • Amory Centre, South Molton

The register is a public document and has other uses apart from the conduct of elections. The figure for triggering a Mayoral Referendum is calculated from it. It is also used by credit agencies and in its edited form it can be purchased by anyone.

If your details have changed

You should update the electoral register:

  • every time you move home
  • if someone has moved into your home
  • if someone has moved out of your home
  • if you have changed your name

Update your details  

Absent Voting - Postal or Proxy Voting

If you are away or have difficulties attending your polling station to vote you can set up an absent vote. This can be by postal voting or setting up a proxy to vote on your behalf.

Residents are advised that changes are being made to the way you can apply for postal and proxy votes. From Tuesday 31 October, voters will be able to apply for a postal vote by completing an online application form.

Previously, postal votes could only be applied for by completing a paper application form. Paper forms will still be available from the Electoral Commission’s website.

They can also be requested from North Devon District Council’s Electoral Services team via email or phone at or 01271 388277.

Postal votes will last for a maximum of three years with voters required to re-apply for their postal vote at the end of this period. If you currently have a postal vote in place, you do not need to take any action now. The Council will write to you when it is time to renew.

Proxy voting is also changing from the same date. Under new rules, voters will be limited to acting as a proxy for two people, regardless of their relationship. Anyone voting on behalf of UK voters who live overseas may be eligible to act as a proxy for up to four people. Voters will be able to apply online for some types of proxy vote from Tuesday 31 October.

A National Insurance number will need to be provided on postal vote and proxy vote applications. If someone is not able to provide it, alternative proof of identity may be accepted.

These changes are part of the Elections Act.

I have become ill or can't get to the Polling Station due to work after the close of proxy voting deadline?

This must be something that you weren't aware of before the normal proxy vote deadline. You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 17:00 on the polling day.

How do I register to vote if I'm at university?

Students can vote using their university or home address. It is legal to be registered in two areas, but a criminal offence to vote in both. If students are already registered at their home address, they could use a postal vote or proxy vote if they are not there on election day.

People who are working away from home or on holiday on election day can also vote by post or proxy, which means nominating someone to cast a vote for you. Your proxy must be aged 18 or over and also registered. If you are suddenly incapacitated or taken ill after the close of proxy applications, you can apply for an emergency proxy up until 17:00 on the polling day.

How do I register to vote if I live abroad?

You can register as an overseas voter if you are a British citizen and have been on a UK electoral register in the past 15 years. You should register in the area where you were registered to vote. In England you can register online to vote by post or by proxy.

What about the armed forces?

Members of the armed forces overseas, or their spouse or civil partner, can register as a service voter or ordinary voter to vote by post or proxy. A service voter means you are registered at a fixed address in the UK for five years.

Can I register to vote if I do not have a fixed address?

If you do not have a permanent address, you can register by filling in a "declaration of local connection" form.

Can I register to vote anonymously?

If you are concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register you need to fill in a form and explain why your safety - or that of someone in your household - would be at risk.

Can I get help with registering if I have a learning disability?

The Electoral Commission has produced an "easy-read" version of the registration form in English and Welsh. People with a disability can get help to complete an application, but the person who wants to register to vote has to make the declaration.

Petitions for a referendum

Each Local Authority is required to publish a verification number.  This figure represents 5% of the number of local government electors for the authority's area in the revised register of electors having effect on the 15 February 2024. The verification number for the district of North Devon is 3876.

These Regulations make provision for the holding of a referendum on whether a local authority should change to a different form of governance where at least 5% of the local government electors in the authority's area petition the authority. The reason for publishing this information is for the purpose of determining the validity of petitions presented during the period 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.