Voter ID that you can use in UK elections – and how to get it

Author:
Jessica Garland, Director of Policy and Research

Posted on the 22nd November 2022

All voters now need to bring a form of photographic identification to vote.

The government has now confirmed in secondary legislation which photo IDs will be accepted, in a list which leaves few options for younger voters. We have long argued that voter ID is an expensive distraction. The scheme is expected to cost up to £180 million over a decade. And all this when there was just one conviction for personation in 2019 – a year in which over 58 million votes were cast.

As well as putting an unnecessary burden on the public purse, we have highlighted that voter ID risks creating barriers for voters on lower incomes. Joseph Rowntree Foundation research supports this showing that it has the potential to disenfranchise 1.7 million low-income voters. Many of the accepted forms of ID come at a cost meaning better off voters are more likely to be able to access them.

What can you use for ID instead of a passport?

The following documents, and expired versions of them, will be accepted as long as poll workers think the photo is a good enough likeness. A quick look at the costs of accepted IDs shows very few are cost-free.

ID Type Cost Eligibility Renewal Every How to apply
UK Passport 🇬🇧 £75.50 16+ 10 Years Apply for a passport
UK driving licence (including provisional) 🇬🇧 New: £34 – £43
Renewal: £14 – 21.50
15y 9m+ 10 Years Apply for a driving licence
Renew a driving licence
A PASS card* bearing the PASS hologram 🇬🇧 £15 All Apply for a PASS Card
Defence Identity Card 🇬🇧 N/A Armed Forces Join Armed Forces
A biometric immigration document 🇬🇧 Upwards of £19.20 Immigrant Migrate to the UK
Blue Badge scheme card 🇬🇧 Wales: £0
England & Northern Ireland:£10
Scotland: £20
Disabled 3 Years Apply for a Blue Badge Scheme Card
Oyster 60+ (London) New: £20
Renewal: £10
60+ 1 Year Apply for an Oyster 60+
Freedom Pass (London) New: Free
Replacement: £12
67+ Apply for a London Freedom Pass
Disabled Person’s Freedom Pass (London) Free Disabled Apply for a Disabled Person’s Freedom Pass
Older Person’s Bus Pass funded by the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Free 60-68 (Pension age) Apply for an Older Person’s Bus Pass
Scottish National Entitlement Card 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Free 5+ Apply for a National Entitlement Card
Older Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Free 60+ Apply in Wales
Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Free 60+ Apply in Wales
Electoral Identity Card (Northern Ireland) Free All Apply for a Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card
Senior SmartPass (Northern Ireland) Free 65+ 5 Years Apply for a Senior SmartPass
Registered Blind SmartPass (Northern Ireland) Free Disabled 5 Years Apply for a Registered Blind SmartPass
War Disablement SmartPass (Northern Ireland) Free Disabled 5 Years Apply for a War Disablement SmartPass
60+ SmartPass (Northern Ireland) Free 60 5 Years Apply for a 60+ SmartPass
Half Fare SmartPass (Northern Ireland) Free Disabled 5 Years Apply for a Half Fare SmartPass
National identity card issued by an EEA state Varies Varies Varies Apply with home state
Commonwealth or EEA passport Varies 16+ Varies Apply with home state
Channel Islands, Isle of Man or an EEA driving licence Varies 15y 9m+ 10 Years Apply with home state

*The PASS Scheme accredits a number of for-profit and not-for-profit ID cards with their own separate branding. These include IDGO, TOTUM, My ID Card, Young Scot, ONEID4U, CitizenCard as well as the Bracknell Forest e+ card and Milton Keynes Council Cards. 

Many of the ‘Free’ forms of ID require a paid-for form of ID, such as a passport, in the application process.

How can I get a free electoral ID (Voter Authority Certificate)?

The government has legislated for a free voter ID certificate for those without any of the listed forms of ID. Apply via GOV.UK and your local councils will post you a certificate – Apply on GOV.UK.

Although the certificate is free, accessing it may not be cost-neutral for everyone. Those without internet access at home may need to pay for travel to a library to access a computer or take time off work to match library opening hours. As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlights:

“It’s not easy, or necessarily going to be a priority, to apply to your local authority for a free Voter Card if you’re working in an insecure job with irregular, unpredictable and long hours, or juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet while also managing caring responsibilities and health needs.”

At a time when many more people are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet, putting a paywall around the polling station is a damaging move for our democracy.

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