The electoral register and the open register

There are two types of register:

  • the electoral register
  • the open register (also known as the edited register).

The electoral register

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everybody who is registered to vote in public elections.

The electoral register is used for:

  • electoral purposes
  • crime prevention and law enforcement
  • calling people for jury service
  • background checks - by government departments
  • identity checks – by credit reference agencies.

Copies of the electoral register are held by your local council, the British Library, the Electoral Commission, Boundary Commissions and the Office for National Statistics.

The open register

The open register is an extract of the electoral register which can be bought by any person, company or organisation.

The open register is used by:

  • businesses checking the identity and address of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop online
  • businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online
  • charities and other voluntary agencies
  • debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed their address without telling their creditors
  • direct marketing firms
  • landlords and letting agents
  • local councils
  • online directory firms
  • organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies
  • private sector firms to verify details of job applicants.

Find out how to opt out of the open register