In 2014, individual electoral registration was introduced in England, Scotland and Wales. It replaced the arrangement where one person in each household was responsible for registering everyone to vote with the arrangement where each person in the household is required to register to vote individually. Online registration for people living in England, Scotland and Wales was also introduced. This means that the people are now responsible for their registration including the choice of whether or not to stay off the open register.
There are two electoral registers, the full register, also called electoral register and the open register, also called the edited electoral register. The full register contains the names and address of everyone who is entitled to vote. The full register can only be used for electoral purposes, the prevention and detection of crime and checking applications for loans and credit. The full register can also be used when calling people for jury service. A copy of the full register is held by your local council, the electoral commission, the office of National Statistics and the Boundary Commissions. The open register is the version of the register that is on sale to the public. The names and addresses of people who have asked to be excluded from the list are omitted from the open register. The open register may be used by businesses to check the identity and address of people who apply for services such as insurance, charities and voluntary organizations to contact people who have made donations, direct marketing firms to maintain their mailing lists, by private firms to verify details of job applicants and by landlords when checking the identity of potential clients. The information on the open register is updated and published every month.
You can stay off the open register by contacting your electoral registration office anytime of the year. You can find your local electoral registration office here. To stay off the open register it is important to tick the opt out box on your annual electoral registration form. This way your personal details would not be included on the open register. Opting out does not affect your right to vote. When you opt out once, you have also opted out of future versions of the open electoral register. You can also opt-out at any time by making a request to local electoral registration staff with your full name, address and an indication that you wish to be omitted from the open register.
You may also register to vote anonymously for a good reason, example for safety reasons. This way your name and address would not appear on both the full and open registers. A code would be used to replace your name and address on the register. You can download a form to register to vote anonymously here. To register to vote anonymously you may need to provide documentary evidence of an attestation from an authorised person or a court order to support your application.