Register to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections

Register to vote in Scottish Parliament elections

On 6th May 2021 Scotland will hold the elections to the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament is made up of all elected members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and is the law-making body for devolved matters. This includes: the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport, and taxation.

The deadline to register to vote is 19 April 2021.

The registration deadline for a postal vote is 6 April 2021.

Who can vote in Scottish elections?

You can register to vote when you are:

  • aged 14 or older for Scottish Parliament and council elections

You can vote when you’re:

  • 16 years old in Scottish Parliament and local elections

You must also be one of the following:

  • a British citizen living in Scotland
  • an Irish citizen living in Scotland
  • a foreign national of another country living in Scotland who has leave to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need leave

How to register to vote?

You can register to vote online. It usually takes about 5 minutes.

You can also register via post. You would have to download and fill in one of the paper forms.

You may need these if you have them:

  • National Insurance number
  • passport if you’re a British citizen living abroad

Your local electoral registration officers will contact you to confirm that you’ve been registered to vote.

Can I register to vote anonymously?

You may be able to register anonymously if you’re worried about being listed on the electoral register.

You’ll need to:

  • explain why your safety, or the safety of another person in your house, would be at risk
  • provide evidence to support your application

I don’t know if I’m registered. How can I check this?

You can contact your local Electoral Registration Office to find out if you’re already registered to vote.

I changed my details since the last time I registered to vote. What should I do?

You can also use the register to vote service to:

  • change your name, address or nationality
  • get on or off the open register

You’ll need to register again with your new details (even if you’re already registered to vote).

The Electoral Roll

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

Full register

Everyone’s name and address go on the full version of the electoral register, and you cannot opt out. This is the version of the register that’s used for elections and referendums.

The full version of the register can only be used for:

  • electoral administration purposes (such as sending out poll cards before elections)
  • campaigning activities (for example, candidates and political parties sending election communications to voters, surveying opinions or fundraising)
  • preventing and detecting crime
  • checking applications for loans or credit
  • jury summoning in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Open register

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, either:

Opting out does not affect your right to vote.

When you opt out of the open register, your details will still appear on the full version of the electoral register.

The information on this page was prepared on 18 March 2021. Source: