Voter Authority Certificate

A Voter Authority Certificate - a free photographic identification document specifically for the purposes of voting 

Voter Authority Certificate application easy-read guide. 

Acceptable forms of photographic identification

Voter ID FAQs

From May 2023, you will be required to show photographic identification at the polling station before you are issued with your ballot paper. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about these changes and what you need to do if you wish to vote in person at a polling station.

Why has voter ID been introduced into polling stations? 

There has always been a form of identity check at polling stations, where electors have had to confirm their name and address.  However under the Elections Act 2022, from the local elections in May 2023, electors will be required to produce photographic identification when they vote in person at a polling station. 

This is a policy decision by Central Government which comes from pledges in their 2017 and 2019 manifestos, looking to ensure the integrity of elections.

What identification will I be able to show when I vote? 

An elector must present one of the following forms of photographic identification in order to vote in person at the polling station:

  • A passport issued by the United Kingdom, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country;
  • A driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state (includes a provisional driving licence);
  • A biometric immigration document;
  • An identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card);
  • Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card);
  • A blue Badge;
  • A national identity card issued by the EEA state;
  • An Older Person’s Bus Pass;
  • A Disabled Person’s Bus Pass;
  • An Oyster 60+ Card;
  • A Freedom Pass;
  • A Scottish National Entitlement Card issued in Scotland;
  • A 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales;
  • A Disabled Person's Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales;
  • A Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland;
  • A Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person's SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland;
  • A War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland;
  • A 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland;
  • Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland;
  • An Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland;
  • A Voter Authority Certificate or a temporary Voter Authority Certificate;
  • An Anonymous elector’s document.

I don’t have any photographic ID, what can I do? 

If you do not possess one of the acceptable forms of photographic identification listed above, you will be able to apply to the Royal Borough of Kingston for a free Voter Authority Certificate. Please see the next FAQ on how you can do this.

The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate for a particular election will be six working days prior to the day of poll. 

How can I apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate? 

You will only need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate if you do not already have an acceptable form of photographic identification.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate is online.  You will need to provide your national insurance number as part of the application, as well as uploading a digital photograph.  

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply using a paper application form.  You will need to supply a hard copy photograph with the application.  Please contact Electoral Services on 020 8547 5026 or if you require a paper application form to be sent to you in the post.  Copies can also be collected from our Guildhall office. 

If you require assistance to apply for your Voter Authority Certificate, you will be able to do this in person at our Guildhall office, where a member of staff will be able to assist you with completing an application.

Once an application has been processed and agreed, the document should be printed within 1-2 days and sent first class via Royal Mail to your registered address.

You may request during your application to collect the document in person from our Offices. You will be asked to provide the reason for this request, and this may be made available if the reason is considered acceptable/exceptional.  We will notify you of where and at what times the document can be collected, and that the document may only be collected by you.  Providing contact details will mean that Electoral Services can more easily contact you when it's ready for collection.

Do I need to be registered in order to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate? 

Yes, you will need to be registered to vote, in order to be issued with a Voter Authority Certificate.

If you are not registered, you will be able to submit an application for a Voter Authority Certificate at the same time as you submit an application to register to vote.

If you are unsure as to whether you are registered, please contact Electoral Services on 020 8547 5026 or 

What sort of photograph do I need to provide on my Voter Authority Certificate application? 

The photo requirements will be similar to passport requirements. The photograph must be:

  • a close-up of the face and shoulders, with the applicant facing forwards and with a plain expression;
  • in colour and taken against a plain, light background;
  • with no other objects or people in the photo:
  • without the applicant wearing sunglasses or head coverings (with the exception of head coverings for medical or religious reasons);
  • in sharp focus;
  • with no glare or shadows over the face and free from redeye;
  • undamaged;
  • a true likeness of the applicant, without amendment or manipulation.

What if I don’t bring any photographic ID to the polling station? 

If you forget to take your ID to the polling station, you will be advised to leave and will be able to vote when you return with appropriate identification, assuming that you are registered and eligible to vote.

My photographic ID is now out of date/expired. Can I still use it to vote? 

If the photographic identification has expired, it will still be accepted so long as the photograph is still of a good likeness of you.

The name on my photo ID is different to the one that I am registered under. Will this matter/can I still vote? 

If necessary, some supporting documents for a name change, such as a marriage certificate or deed poll, will be accepted in polling stations for the purpose of demonstrating a name change.

You will need to take this supporting document to the polling station, in addition to the photographic identification document.

Someone votes on my behalf/I am a proxy voter for someone else. What ID needs to be shown? 

Proxy voters will need to produce their own photographic identification in the polling station in order to show that they are the named proxy.

They will not need to produce identification for the elector on whose behalf they are voting.

I vote by post - do I still need photographic ID? 

No, if you cast your vote by post, then you will not be required to show photographic ID.

I have applied for a Voter Authority Certificate, but have received correspondence asking me for more information? 

You may be asked to provide additional evidence to prove your identity for a VAC.  This will be because your identity was not able to be verified as part of your application process.

The correspondence will outline the various documents that you can provide to assist us with verifying your application.

In some circumstances, an elector may also provide an attestation to verify their identity.

I have applied for my Voter Authority Certificate, but it’s not arrived. What do I do? 

Please contact Electoral Services on 020 8547 5026 or as soon as possible so that we can discuss your options with you.

Why are certain work/student passes and railcards not accepted? 

Given the wide array of professional and educational organisations that provide photographic ID, it would not be difficult to create a fraudulent form of ID.  However, some student cards are PASS accredited and so would be accepted.  All accredited PASS cards bear the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram.

In relation to railcards, while they are considered concessionary travel passes, the government does not believe this would be an appropriate form of ID as they are insufficiently secure.  Similarly, the 18+ Oyster card does not have a suitably secure application process for it to be used as photographic ID at polling stations (unlike the 60+ Oyster card, which has more rigorous processes).

Will a photocopy of my ID suffice? 

Photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents will not be accepted as photo-editing software could be used to edit them, thus making them susceptible to fraudulent alteration.

I require my ID to be checked private at a polling station. Will this be possible? 

There will be a private area in each polling station which will allow voters wishing to have their form of identification to be viewed in private to do so.

This may be achieved in a variety of ways and will depend on the venue being used as polling station. For some stations, this may be through the provision of privacy screens or, in others, using an existing partition or a separate room to facilitate this.

Where necessary, we will provide a mirror in polling stations to assist people who wear face coverings to remove them for the purposes of checking identification (and specifically to provide reassurance that they have been properly replaced following the check).

Please contact Electoral Services on 020 8547 5026 or should you have any specific concerns or queries on this matter.

Is photographic ID required to hand in a postal vote? 

No.  Electors will not need to show any form of identification in order to hand in their own, or another person’s, postal vote to the polling station.

Can I use the Voter Authority Certificate as a form of ID for other purposes? 

No, you will not be able to use your Voter Authority Certificate as an identity document for any purpose other than voting, as it will not include your date of birth or address details.

How long will my Voter Authority Certificate last for? 

Voter Authority Certificates will not have an expiry date but will include a recommended renewal date for after 10 years.

However, the Voter Authority Certificate is only valid so long as the photograph remains a good likeness of you.

I have recently moved. Will I need to reapply for my Voter Authority Certificate at my new address? 

If you have moved, although you will need to register to vote at your new address, you will not need to apply for a new Voter Authority Certificate.

You will be able to use your Voter Authority Certificate in all polls across Great Britain where Voter ID is required.

I no longer want to vote in person at a polling station, what are my options? 

If you do not want to vote in person at a polling station then you can apply to vote by post or by proxy.  More information on these options can be found on our absent vote pages


This webpage will be further updated when more information is available from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities and Electoral Commission.

Last Modified: 05/06/2023 16:33:20