Elections and Voting

Postal and Proxy Voting

Changes to voting by post and proxy

  • Voters can now apply online to vote by post and for some types of proxy vote
  • Voters need to prove their identity when applying to vote by post and by proxy
  • There are changes to how many people someone can act as a proxy for
  • Voters need to reapply for a postal vote every 3 years

The changes apply to UK Parliament elections in England, Scotland and Wales, including by-elections and recall petitions, local elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.

Handing in postal votes

From 2 May 2024 at UK Parliament elections, local elections in England, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales, voters will be only able to hand in their own postal vote, and the postal votes of up to five other people, at a polling station.

Campaigners can only hand in their own postal vote, and postal votes for up to five other people that are either close relatives, or someone they provide regular care for.

Postal and proxy voting changes - FAQ

Changes to postal and proxy voting have come into force and apply to UK parliament general elections and by-elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales.

The changes include:

  • A requirement for voters to re-apply for a postal vote after 3 years
  • The introduction of an online absent voting application process
  • A limit to 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 in the postal votes can be.

The changes will apply to:

  • UK Parliamentary general elections
  • UK Parliamentary by-elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections
  • Recall petitions

The changes will not apply to:

  • Senedd elections
  • Local elections

Further information on these changes can be found on the Electoral Commission website (opens in a new tab)

For Senedd, and local government elections in Wales voters will continue to apply for an absent vote under the current rules:

  • A person can act as a proxy for an unlimited number of close relatives and 2 other people
  • There is no requirment to re-apply for a postal vote
  • Parties are allowed to handle postal ballot applications and absent vote application forms under certain circumstances 

How do you apply for a postal vote?

Voters can still apply for a postal and proxy vote by completing an application form and sending this to:

Electoral Services, Unit 23, Thornton Industrial Estate, Milford Haven, SA73 2RR.

Application forms (opens in a new tab) for a postal and proxy voting are available on the Electoral Commission's website.

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 and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 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, rather than the Commission.

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 a 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 re-apply for a postal vote if they are already registered? 

Voters who hold a postal vote before 31 October 2023 will not need to re-apply 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 re-submitted.

Existing long term postal and proxy voters will be notified by their local electoral registration office when they need to re-apply, before they expire 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.

Those who hold postal votes for devolved elections, such as the Senedd elections, will not need to reapply for a postal vote.

What are the changes to the handling of postal votes?

From May 2024, voters will not be allowed to hand in more than 5 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 regualr care. Individuals who are under 18 are not allowed to hand in postal votes in polling stations.

For further information please contact:





ID: 1317, revised 26/04/2024