Annual canvass frequently asked questions

From 2020 the way the annual canvass is carried out changes. Here are some of the commonly asked questions about the canvass and what you should do.

If you have a question that's not answered here, please contact us.


Canvass Changes from 2020

The way we carry out the annual canvass to update the electoral register has changed. Instead of sending all households a form to return we carry out a data matching exercise with the Department of Work and Pensions in June.

We expect some 70% of households to have a match of all occupants and these households will be sent a letter saying you do not need to respond unless the information is wrong and it tells you how to respond via a Freephone number or online. If we have your email address we shall try and send it to you electronically and you do need to respond to the email by calling the Freephone number or by going online using your personal security codes detailed.

Do I need to respond to any communication sent?

Only if you need to make any changes in response to any a letter or canvass form we may send to you. The quickest and easiest way to make any changes is online or by calling the Freephone number on any communication you receive.

If I have responded to the form online or by calling the Freephone number, do I still need to return the paper communication?

No, you don’t need to return any paper communication if you have responded online or by using the Freephone number. 

Who is eligible to register?

You can register to vote if you are:

  • 16 years old or over (you can only vote when you are 18)
  • a UK citizen
  • a qualifying Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK
  • an EU citizen resident in the UK

A qualifying Commonwealth citizen is someone who has leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not require such leave.

I completed a return to add someone to be registered. What happens next?

Anyone new to your household who is not shown on any communication sent needs to be registered to vote. This is individual registration. The quickest and easiest way is for the person to do this online at

It only takes 5 minutes and you have to give your personal identifiers i.e. your date of birth and your Ni Number.

My details are already on the communication I have received so does this mean I am registered to vote?

Yes, it does mean you are currently registered to vote.
You only needs to tell us if someone is no longer at the property so we can remove them or if there is anyone new, they need to individually register at

Why do you want my email and phone number?

We will only use your email and phone number to contact you about voter registration or election matters. We won't give it to anyone else, or use it for any other purpose.

I've recently registered to vote. Do I still need to respond to any communications received?

No. Only if your details are wrong or not showing on anything we send you or you get an emailed communication that asks you to respond by Freephone or online.

Opting out of the 'open register'

There are 2 versions of the electoral register - the full version and the ‘open register’

Everyone’s name and address goes on the full version of the electoral register. The full version of the register is only used for:

  • elections
  • preventing and detecting crime
  • checking applications for loans or credit
  • jury summoning in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

You can opt out of the open register. This is the version of the register that’s available to anyone who wants to buy a copy.

To opt out, contact the elections office.

Opting out does not affect your right to vote.