Skip to content

The electoral roll and how it can affect your credit score

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to register on the electoral roll.

Here’s how registering to vote can affect your chances of getting credit and how to get on the electoral roll.

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to register on the electoral roll.

Here’s how registering to vote can affect your chances of getting credit and how to get on the electoral roll.

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
Last Updated
10 FEBRUARY 2023
7 min read
Share article

How the electoral roll affects your credit score

Lenders use the electoral roll to verify who you are and where you live. They do this to make sure your application isn’t fraudulent and to avoid the risk of identity theft. If you’re not on the electoral roll or your details don’t match up, lenders won’t be able confirm your identity and might refuse your application for credit.

Every time you apply for credit, the lender will carry out a ‘hard credit check’, which will be marked on your credit file.

If your application is refused and you then try to borrow from another lender, they’ll see the hard credit check on your file – and they too may refuse to lend you the money. This cycle of hard credit checks could seriously damage your credit score.

Being on the electoral roll gives lenders the information they need to confirm your name and address, and this could help to increase your credit score. For a good credit rating, you’ll also need to show you’re a reliable borrower who consistently pays on time and doesn’t have debt problems.

What is the electoral register?

The electoral register, also known as the electoral roll, is a list of the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections in the UK. This includes national and local elections as well as referendums.

Being on the register not only gives you access to voting, it’s also used to confirm your identity for being selected for jury duty, criminal investigations and, of course, credit applications.

Did you know?

A study by Comparethemarket reveals that 72% of young borrowers (16-24 year olds) don’t realise that registering on the electoral roll has an impact on their credit score.

How to find out if you’re on the electoral register

If you’re not sure if you’re already on the electoral roll and you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you should contact your local Electoral Registration Office. Each local authority is in charge of the electoral register in its own area. To find your local electoral registration office, go to the GOV.UK website and enter your postcode.

If you live in Northern Ireland and you want to check if you’re on the electoral register, contact the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland.

Registering for council tax or government benefits doesn’t automatically put you on the electoral roll. By law, if you’re eligible to vote, you must be registered on the electoral roll, even if you don’t plan on voting. You’ll have to sign up yourself, it’s your responsibility to register. If you’re asked to register and you don’t, you could be fined.

Who is eligible to vote?

You can sign up to the electoral register when you’re 16 years old or over (14 or over in Scotland and Wales). But you can’t actually vote until you turn 18 (or 16 for some elections in Scotland and Wales).

To register to vote, you must also be one of the following:

  • A British citizen
  • An Irish or EU citizen resident in the UK
  • A Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK
  • A citizen of another country legally residing in Scotland or Wales.

Registering to vote doesn’t necessarily give you the right to vote in all elections. For example, EU citizens resident in the UK can currently vote in local government elections but not the General Election. You can check your eligibility on the GOV.UK website.

How to get on the electoral register

Register online

The quickest and easiest way to get on the electoral roll is to register online using the government’s register to vote service. The whole process only takes about five minutes. You’ll be asked your National Insurance number, although you can still register if you haven’t got one. Once you’ve registered, your name and address will be listed on the electoral roll and will also be noted on your credit report.

You can also use the register to vote service to update your personal details, such as a change of name, address or nationality. Don’t forget to do this as it could harm your credit score if your personal details no longer match.

Register by post

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales you can print and fill out a paper form, then send it to your local Electoral Registration Office.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll need to fill out a different form and send it to the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland (EONI).

What can I do if I can’t join the electoral register?

If you’re not eligible to vote and can’t join the electoral register, lenders will need other forms of identity and proof of address. This could delay your application process for financial products. Not being on the electoral roll will also lower your credit score and your application might even be refused.

If you’re not able to get on the electoral register, you can add a note to your credit file explaining the reason why. To do this, you’ll need to contact the three main credit reference agencies (CRAs): Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each of the CRAs holds a file on you and the information they have may differ, so it’s best to contact all three.

Top tip

If you share a house with other people, make sure your name is on one or more of the utility bills. This could help to confirm your name and proof of address. It might also help improve your credit score – as long as you pay the bills on time.

Frequently asked questions

Once I’ve registered to vote, how long does it take for the information to appear on my credit file?

Once you’ve registered to vote, your local authority will pass the information on to the credit reference agencies, typically by a chosen date each month. Estimates vary, as it depends on the processes in place at your local authority, but credit reference agencies report that it could take up to 30 days, or in some cases up to six weeks before the information appears on your credit file.

If you register to vote during your local council’s annual canvas (typically between August and November), when local councils contact residents to review details on the electoral register, your details may not be supplied to the credit reference agencies until the canvas has ended.

Can I register at more than one address?

Yes, you can. If you’re a student, for example, you could register at your parents’ address as well as your student digs. Just be aware that you can only use one address to vote at national elections. If you vote twice, you’ll be breaking the law.

You will be able to vote at both your term time and home address in local elections, so long as they’re not in the same election area.

It’s not obligatory to register at both addresses, so you can choose just to register at your family’s home address. Registering at a permanent address could help protect your credit score as lenders don’t like to see many different addresses over a short space of time – they might consider it a red flag for identity theft or fraud.

I’m moving house. When should I register?

It’s best to wait until you’ve moved in before registering to vote at your new address. Just make sure it’s a priority and that you do it as soon as possible. If you move out of your election area, you’ll need to let your previous local authority know that you’re now registered at a new address in a different area.

Can I register to vote if I live outside the UK?

Yes, you can register as an overseas voter, so long as you’re a British or eligible Irish citizen and you were registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years. In some cases, you can still register as an overseas voter if you were too young to register to vote before you left the UK.

If you’re abroad temporarily for election day, but you’re still resident in the UK, you can vote by post or by proxy (where you choose someone to vote for you on election day).

What is the ‘open register’?

The ‘open register’ is an edited version of the full electoral register that is available to the public. When you sign up to the electoral roll, your information is kept on two registers:

  • The electoral register, also known as the full register
  • The open register, also known as the edited register.

If you don’t want your information shared, you can choose to opt out of the open register and ask to have your details removed. You’ll remain on the full electoral register – the one that lenders use when you apply for credit – so opting out of the open register won’t harm your credit score.

What else can the electoral information on my credit report be used for?

It’s not just lenders who use your electoral information to identify you. Registering to vote could also give you easier access to:

How else can I improve my credit score?

Registering to vote isn’t the only way to build your credit score. You could also:

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Close any old accounts you no longer use, including past joint accounts with an ex-partner
  • Don’t apply for too much credit in a short space of time
  • Check your credit report for any mistakes that need correcting
  • If you have a poor or no credit history, consider a credit-builder card to help build up your credit score over time.

Looking for a credit card?

Compare credit cards quickly and easily. Use our eligibility checker to find out which cards you’re likely to be accepted for without affecting your credit score.

Compare now
Compare credit cards now Find a card