Updating the electoral register

The electoral register is updated by continuous registration throughout the year. Applicants submit a registration form to add their name to the register or update their details and electors are removed from the register if they no longer fulfil the registration requirements.

The Chief Electoral Officer can require certain public authorities to provide her with information to enable her to ensure the register is as accurate and comprehensive as possible. The authorities that provide information and the information they provide is detailed below.

Business Services Organisation (BSO) The BSO holds patient information from medical professionals such as doctors, dentists and opticians. When a person notifies one of these about a change of address this information is forwarded to the Electoral Office. We will then write to the person advising them to update their details on the register. A registration form will be enclosed with the letter. Note: medical information is not provided to the Electoral Office.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Every registration application is checked against the DWP database as a way of confirming the applicant’s identity. If the person’s identity can be verified in this way they will not need to provide documents to support their registration application.
District councils We receive information from councils about properties and changes to the use of properties (e.g. if a commercial property is now used for residential purposes).
Registrar General for Northern Ireland The Registrar provides information about births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships.
Secondary schools and further education
colleges in Northern Ireland
Secondary schools and colleges provide information about their students to allow us to carry out the annual schools imitative, when Electoral Office staff visit schools and colleges to register students and take applications for electoral identity cards.


If the Chief Electoral Officer considers that the register is no longer accurate or complete, she can recommend to the Secretary of State that a canvass of electors be carried out to update the register.

During a canvass hundreds of Canvassers visit households throughout Northern Ireland to deliver and collect registration forms. These registration forms are then used to compile a new electoral register. The last canvass was carried out in 2013.