Elections Act 2022 - What you need to know

The UK government is implementing significant changes to the current electoral system. The Elections Act 2022 outlines several measures which will affect the way that you vote and how we conduct elections.

One of the biggest changes is the requirement for individuals to show photographic identification (such as a passport or drivers’ licence) when they vote at a polling station.

The sections below provide a summary of what we know so far. Further information is due to be published throughout 2023 and this page will be updated when we know more. The first changes came into force for the Whole Council Local Elections in Wirral on 4 May 2023. You can find out more about the Elections Act 2022 by visiting the UK Government website

Voter ID for elections from May 2023

All electors, who vote at a polling station, are required to show an accepted form of photographic identification since May 2023. There are no exceptions. This will include anonymous electors. 

If you act as a proxy for an elector, you will need to show your own ID. You will not need to provide ID for the person you are acting as a proxy for.

You will need ID to receive your ballot paper to cast your vote in a polling station.

Voter ID will be introduced for postal voters, and people appointing a proxy in the summer of 2023 and will be in place for all elections taking place, after this date. 

Accepted forms of identification are set out in Schedule 1 of the Elections Act. This list includes ‘an electoral identity document issued under section 13BD (electoral identity document: Great Britain)’. 

If you do not have any of the accepted forms of ID, listed below, you can apply online for a free Voter Authority Certificate – this is a photographic identity document specifically for the purpose of voting.

There are three varieties of this ‘electoral identity document':

  • the Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) – previously referred to as the voter card
  • the temporary Voter Authority Certificate, which can only be issued in exceptional circumstances
  • the Anonymous Electors Document (AED), for use by anonymous electors only * Registered anonymous electors will be required to apply for an AED as this will be the ONLY accepted form of voter ID for anonymous electors at polling stations. Anonymous electors will be invited to apply for the AED in January 2023 

The Voter Authority Certificate is an A4 paper-based document, with appropriate security features, displaying only the elector’s name, photograph, date of issue, issuing local authority, an ‘identifier’ (i.e., an alphanumerical reference), and a recommended renewal date.

The deadline for applications for Voter Authority Certificates will be 5pm, 6 working days ahead of a poll. For this year's elections it was 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

For applicants, the Voter Authority Certificate application service is available as:

  • a GOV.UK Voter Authority Certificate Service – an online application service, provided by central government on the GOV.UK website, where you can submit your application for a Voter Authority Certificate online
  • an alternative paper application form designed by the Electoral Commission, allowing you to make your application for a Voter Authority Certificate on paper and either post or hand in the application to their ERO 

If you do not have any of the accepted forms of ID you will be able to apply online for a free Voter Authority Certificate – this is a photographic identity document specifically for the purpose of voting.

Apply for photo ID to vote (called a ‘Voter Authority Certificate’)

If you own an accepted form of photographic ID you do not need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (Voter ID). If your photographic ID document has expired it can still be used, if the photograph is still a good likeness of you.

If you are not able to apply online or would prefer to receive a paper application form, please contact Electoral Services on 0151 691 8046 or email electoral@wirral.gov.uk.

Acceptable forms of photographic ID


  • a UK passport
  • a passport issued by an EEA state or Commonwealth country

* Please note that expired documents will be accepted providing that the photograph is still a good likeness of you*

Apply for a UK passport

Driving licence (including provisional licences)

  • a licence to drive a motor vehicle granted under 15(i) Part 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, or (ii) the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (SI 1981/154 (N.I. 1))
  • a driving licence issued by any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state

Expired documents will be accepted as long as the photograph is still a good likeness of you.

Apply for a driving licence

Immigration document

A biometric immigration document issued in accordance with regulations under section 5 of the UK Borders Act 2007.

Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram

These include:

  • CitizenCard
  • My ID Card
  • Milton Keynes all in 1 MK Card
  • NUS Totum ID Card
  • Validate UK Card
  • Young Scot Card
  • One ID 4 U Card

Apply for a PASS Card

Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)

Commonly known as a MOD90.

Concessionary travel passes

This list has been updated since the introduction of the Elections Bill. It exhaustively sets out all concessionary travel cards that will be accepted, to avoid any confusion amongst electors.

These include:

  • older persons' bus pass (UK Government issued passes ONLY - does not include Merseytravel over 60s pass
  • disabled persons' bus pass
  • Oyster 60+ card
  • Freedom Pass
  • National Entitlement Card (Scottish Government)
  • 60 and over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card (Welsh Government)
  • Disabled Person's Welsh Concessionary Travel Card (Welsh Government)
  • a Senior SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a 60+ SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a Half Fare SmartPass (Northern Ireland)

Chronically sick or disabled

A badge of a form prescribed under section 21 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 or section 14 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (blue badge scheme).

Apply for a blue badge

Electoral documents

  • an electoral identity document issued under section 13BD (electoral identity document: Great Britain)
  • an anonymous elector’s document issued under section
  • 513BE (anonymous elector’s document: Great Britain) the holder of which has an anonymous entry at the time of the application for a ballot paper
  • an electoral identity card issued under section 13C (electoral identity card: Northern Ireland)
  • a national identity card issued by an EEA state

Applying for a Voter Authority Certificate

If you do not have any photographic ID from the list above, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate:

  • you can apply online on GOV.UK
  • you will need to provide your name, address, date of birth and national insurance number
  • you will also need to provide a passport style photograph

Changes to absent voting

Postal and proxy voting changes 

Changes to postal and proxy voting have come into force and apply to all elections in England, UK parliament general elections and by-elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales, and UK parliamentary general elections in Scotland. Changes to postal voting and online absent applications do not apply in Northern Ireland. The changes include:

  • a requirement for voters to reapply for a postal vote after three years
  • the introduction of an online absent voting application process
  • a limit on the number of people for whom someone may act as a proxy
  • a limit to the number of postal votes that can be handed in and restrictions on who the individual handing the postal votes can be

At which elections will the changes apply in England?

  • UK Parliamentary general election 
  • UK Parliamentary by-election 
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections 
  • Local and Mayoral elections in England 
  • Recall petitions 

How do you apply for a postal or proxy vote?

The easiest way to apply is online, however voters can still apply for a postal and proxy vote by completing an application form and sending this to their local Electoral Registration Office. 

Application forms for postal and proxy voting are available on the Electoral Commission’s website. Visit https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/apply-vote-post 

With the changes, voters will have the option to apply for an absent vote through a new online system provided by the UK Government for UK parliamentary general elections in England, Scotland and Wales, local government election in England, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.

This will be a similar process as registering to vote, and voters will need to provide their National Insurance number, as well as their signature. The UK Government is responsible for delivering and launching this new system.

If a voter needs their application attesting or if they are applying for an emergency proxy vote, they will not be able to apply online.

What is attesting?

If a voter cannot prove their identity by providing documentary evidence, they can ask someone they know to confirm their identity.

What are the identity checks when applying?

Voters will need to submit their full name, signature, date of birth and their National Insurance number for checking if applying for a postal or proxy vote under the new measures.

When applying online for a postal vote, do voters need to provide their signature?

Yes, voters will need to provide and upload an image of their signature when applying for a postal vote online.

Will voters have to reapply for a postal vote if they are already registered?

Voters who hold a postal vote before 31 October 2023 will not need to reapply before 31 January 2026.

All postal and proxy vote applications received on or after this date will be subject to the new rules and will require an ID verification check. Applications missing this information must be resubmitted.

Existing long term postal and proxy voters will be notified by their local electoral registration office when they need to reapply before their expiry on 31 January 2026. This will include the date on which their existing postal vote entitlement is due to end, and information about how to make a fresh application if they wish to do so.

What are the changes to the handling of postal votes?

From May, voters will not be allowed to hand in more than five postal ballot packs per poll, in addition to their own.

There will also be a new criminal offence to stop parties and campaigners handling postal votes for other voters who are not close relatives or someone for whom they provide regular care. Individuals who are under 18 are not allowed to hand in postal votes in polling stations.

Anyone handing in a completed postal ballot pack to a polling station, or a designated Council Office will be required to complete a form. If the form is not completed the postal ballot pack will be rejected.

How many people can act as a proxy?

Voters will now only be able to act as a proxy for up to two people living in the UK (a maximum of four people, with two people living in the UK and two people registered as living overseas) in elections where the changes apply.

Will postal and proxy voters need to show photo ID to vote with the new measures?

Voters will not need to show photo ID to apply by post or proxy. 

Anyone acting as a proxy to vote on someone’s behalf will need to show their photo ID at the polling station in elections where the ID requirement applies.

Will identity checks in online absent voting applications be a barrier to voting?

It is important that voters have confidence in the absent voting system as a safe and secure method of voting. Councils, Electoral Registration Officers, and the Electoral Commission are working to ensure people are aware of the changes and are supported if they wish to apply for a postal or proxy vote. Voters can be assured that the identity checks when applying for an absent vote online are the same requirement when registering to vote in a polling station.

Accessibility at polling stations

The new law will make it easier for voters with disabilities to vote. Changes will be in place for the May 2023 elections. Voters with disabilities will be given extra support at polling stations and proposals will allow anyone over the age of 18 to act as a companion for a voter with a disability. Read further information about voting if you have a disability.

Rights of EU Citizens for voting and candidacy

EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote, or stand for election. Two groups of EU citizens will retain their voting and candidacy rights these are:

  • Qualifying EU citizens who come from countries which have reciprocal agreements with the UK (currently this is Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Spain)
  • EU citizens with retained rights, who were living in the UK before 1 January 2021 (before the UK left the EU)

This change will apply to all local elections and referendums in England, all elections for council and combined authority mayors, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. These changes are expected to take place by spring 2024.

Overseas Electors

In the past, British citizens were only eligible to vote in UK Parliament elections if they had previously been registered in the UK and living abroad for less than 15 years.

From January 2024, there is no longer a time limit. Voters that have previously lived or been registered to vote in the UK now have the right to vote in UK parliament elections.

What are the eligibility rules?

British citizens, which includes eligible Irish citizens and citizens of Crown Dependencies, may register as overseas voters if they are now living abroad, providing they:

were previously registered to vote in the UK, either before they left the UK or as an overseas voter; or were previously resident in the UK.

Overseas British citizens must apply to register as a voter using the address where they were last registered to vote in the UK or, if they have never been registered, the last address at which they were resident in the UK.

What if voters have been registered at more than one address in the past?

If an applicant has been previously registered at more than one address, they use the most recent address at which they were registered.

How do voters register?

Overseas voters can apply to register in the same way as any other voter. They can apply online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or by sending a paper form to the relevant local authority.

Those who were previously registered will have to provide details about the address and time they were last registered.

Those who previously lived in the UK, but were not registered, will need to provide details about the address and time where they were last resident.

How do overseas voters prove those details?

Local authorities in England and Wales, Electoral Registration Officers in Scotland and the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland are responsible for the electoral roll in their area. They must be satisfied that the applicant was registered or lived in the area previously and must be able to verify an applicant’s identity.

Local authorities and Electoral Registration Officers have a number of resources for verifying this information, including checking previous registers, other locally held records, or evidence provided by the applicant.

How often do overseas voters need to register?

Under the new rules, overseas voters need to provide a renewal declaration every three years. Previously, it was every 12 months. A renewal declaration confirms that the details held on the electoral register are accurate and provides an opportunity to update correspondence details if necessary.

Registration will need to be renewed before 1 November, three years after the voter registered as an overseas voter, unless the voter has successfully renewed their voter registration in the meantime. So, if a British citizen living overseas applies to vote in March 2024, they will need to renew their application before 1 November 2026.

How can overseas electors cast their vote?

Registered overseas voters can apply to vote by post or by proxy. They can also vote in person if they will be in the UK on polling day. They cannot, however, vote in person at a British embassy, high commission, or consulate.

Are overseas voters allowed to donate money to UK political parties?

Yes, under electoral law, those on an electoral register are also permitted to donate to political parties and campaigners campaigning in UK elections.

First past the post

From May 2023 the voting system, at the elections listed below, will be changing from a supplementary vote system to a simple majority voting system, also known as ‘first past the post’. In ‘first past the post’ voting you only vote for one candidate and the candidate with the most votes will win. Candidates will no longer have to secure a certain number of votes; they will just have to win more votes than any other candidate.

The voting system will be changed in all elections for: 

  • local authority (council) mayors in England
  • combined authority mayors
  • Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales
  • the London mayor

Privacy Notice for applying for a Voter Authority Certificate