Voting by post

Last Updated: 14 June 2021

If you're unable to vote in person at the polling station, you can vote by post or vote by proxy.

This page describes how postal voting works, and has the link to download an application form. 

How to apply for a postal vote

You don't need to give a reason for choosing to vote by post, and anyone can apply:

  • temporarily, for a single election
  • for a specific period of time, for all elections within those dates
  • indefinitely, for all future elections

Electoral Commission: Postal vote application form  

You must print this form, sign it and either send it to us as a scanned image by email or send it to us by post at the below address. We can't accept forms with digital signatures.

If you don't have access to a printer, you can request an application form over the telephone, by email or in person at South Lakeland House (offices are closed during lockdown). Contact details are listed at the bottom of this page.

If you move and re-register to vote, you must reapply for your postal vote. This is because your postal vote is attached to your address and will not automatically move with you.

Change a postal vote

If you're going to be away from your registered address around the time the postal votes are sent, you can either have your postal vote sent to a different address or choose to vote by proxy instead.

If you already have a postal vote, you can change the address temporarily for one election. To arrange this, you must contact Electoral Services in writing, by post or by email. Please include your name, registered address, the address you would like your postal vote to be sent to and a brief reason for the change.

If you already have a postal vote and would like it to be sent to another address indefinitely (for all future elections), you must reapply.

The deadline to change a postal vote in time for an election is usually eleven working days before the election. This is the same deadline to apply for or cancel a postal vote.

Cancel a postal vote

You don’t need to give a reason for cancelling your postal vote, but you must contact Electoral Services in writing, by email or post. Please include your name and registered address.

The deadline to cancel a postal vote in time for an election is usually eleven working days before the election. This is the same deadline to apply for or change a postal vote.

Changing from a postal vote to a proxy vote

There are two ways to arrange this:

  1. Submit a proxy application form, which will automatically cancel your postal vote and set up your proxy. You must do this by the postal vote application deadline, which is usually eleven working days before the election
  2. Cancel your postal vote. You must do this by the postal vote application deadline, which is usually eleven working days before an election. You will then have to apply for your proxy vote by the proxy application deadline, which is usually six working days before the election

If you have a permanent postal vote and change to a proxy for an election, you will need to reapply for your postal vote after the election. You don’t need to do anything if you have changed a temporary postal vote to a proxy vote. Your voting method will be reset to voting in person after the election.

Sending postal votes to away addresses or abroad

If you're going to be away from your registered address around the time the postal votes are sent, you can either have your postal vote sent to a different address or choose to vote by proxy instead.

If you're about to apply for a postal vote, you can tell us where to send your postal vote pack in your application form.

If you already have a postal vote, you can change the address temporarily for one election. To arrange this, you must contact Electoral Services in writing, by post or by email. Please include your name, registered address, the address you would like your postal vote to be sent to and a brief reason for the change.

If you already have a postal vote and would like it to be sent to another address indefinitely (for all future elections), you must reapply.

We can send postal votes abroad, but we advise against this because it can take too long for the postal ballot pack to reach you and be returned to us in time. We also advise against having your postal vote sent to another address if you're not going to be there for very long, as you may leave before the pack arrives. You may wish to apply for a proxy vote instead.

The deadline to change or cancel your postal vote is usually eleven working days before an election.

Your ballot papers

How to complete and return your ballot papers

Postal vote signature refresh

When we send out postal ballot papers during an election, we will also include something called a postal vote statement in the pack. To protect against fraud, we check the signature and date of birth on the statement against the signature you provided when you applied for a postal vote. If the signatures doesn't match, your postal vote is rejected and isn't counted.

We're required by law to ask you for a new signature every five years. Signatures can change over time and this 'absent vote signature refresh' helps avoid your postal vote being rejected. The form will also ask you for your date of birth, just to check the information we have about you is correct.

We usually send the signature refresh forms around January. If we have sent a form to you, you must complete it if you wish to keep your postal vote. If we don't hear from you by the date printed on the final reminder form, your postal vote will be cancelled and you will need to reapply if you need to vote by post in future.