If you're unable to get to your local polling station on the day of an election you can vote by post.
Anyone who is registered to vote individually can apply for a postal vote, so long as you're aged 18 or over.
It's now too late to apply for a postal vote to vote in the May elections or change or cancel an existing postal vote. You can still apply to vote by post for the EU referendum.
We’ll start to send the first postal vote ballot papers from Tuesday 19 April.
Apply for a postal vote
You'll need to complete the postal vote application form (pdf, 21 KB)(opens new window) (pdf, 21k) (opens new window) .
Each person requiring a postal vote must fill in a form.
You can apply for a postal vote:
- for one election
- for a set period of time
- permanently, until you tell us otherwise.
The signature you give on your application form must match the one you use when you vote by post, so it’s important you sign the same way each time.
If you can't provide a signature
If you can’t sign the application form, or can’t sign in the same way every time, you can apply for a ‘waiver’ using our postal vote waiver application form. (pdf, 33 KB) (pdf, 34k) (opens new window) .
If you live abroad
If you live abroad you can appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf, as there may not be enough time for postal votes to reach you and be sent back before the poll closes.
The deadline to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf in the May elections has now passed. You can still apply to vote by proxy in the EU referendum.
After you've applied
We'll confirm that your postal vote application has been successful, there may not always be enough time to do this just before an election.
We’ll send your postal voting papers around three weeks before the election.
How to vote by post
You can either post it, or if you’ve left it too late, hand it in at your polling station.
If you applied for a postal vote in the past
You don't need to register to vote by post if you've applied for a postal vote from us before and have either:
- got a letter to say that you've automatically transferred to the new registration system that took effect from June 2014 and you still live at the same address
- registered to vote after June 2014 and requested a postal vote when you registered
If you’ve changed address since you last applied, you’ll need to register to vote again using your new details. You can ask for a postal vote when you register.
Absent vote signature renewal
If you have a postal vote, by law you must renew your signature every five years. If your signature needs to be renewed in 2017 we'll write to you in February 2017 with a form. You should complete the form and return it in the pre-paid envelope provided.
If you don’t complete and return this form you'll lose your ability to vote by post and you'll have to complete a new application.