Annual canvass

What you need to know


Why have I received this form?     

You have received a Household Enquiry Form (HEF) as part of the annual canvass. This is a survey of all the households in the country that takes place each year to ensure that the electoral register is accurate and up-to-date.

The purpose of the HEF is to find out whether the information that we currently hold on the electoral register for your household is correct. HEF forms are addressed to ‘The Occupier’ and will give the details of anybody who is registered to vote at your address. Properties where no one is registered to vote will receive a blank HEF.

You need to check the information on the form, and if it is correct, you can confirm that there is no change by phone, text, online or by returning the form in the pre-paid envelope provided.

If you need to make a change, please go online or return the form by post.

What is the deadline for responding to the HEF?

The Annual Canvass is carried out each year between July - December. The revised Electoral Register is published on 1st December each year.

Any households that do not respond to their original or reminder Household Enquiry Form (HEF) should expect a visit from a personal canvasser in order to collect their HEF response. All personal canvassers will have an ID card and will be wearing a hi-vis jacket. The canvasser will ask you for your response to the HEF and assist you to register to vote if necessary.

If you haven’t yet responded to the HEF but you still have the form, you can avoid a canvasser visit by responding to the HEF using the online service or by completing the form and returning it in the pre-paid envelope. If there are no changes to make at your address, you can also respond using the automated phone line or text service.

Why do I have to give this information again, I pay my council tax?   

Council tax databases and the electoral register are not linked. It is your responsibility to register to vote, you need to do this each time you move and complete the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) every year – even if there are no changes.

I have already completed a form and have now received another        

If you have received another household enquiry form it may be a reminder that has crossed in the post. If you contact the office they can check if they have already received one from you.

Any new occupants added to a Household Enquiry Form (HEF) are then sent an Invitation To Register form (ITR) which they need to complete to register. People who receive an ITR can either complete their voter registration online at or by completing and returning the form in the pre-paid envelope.

We cannot add people to the electoral register directly from the HEF. This is because the law changed in 2014 which requires individuals to register themselves to vote. They must do so by providing relevant information, including their date of birth and National Insurance number, which can be checked against records held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to verify their identity.

I do not want to register to vote

Even if you do not want to register to vote, you still need to respond to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) giving the details of everyone at your property who is eligible to register. If you do not respond to the HEF you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

We are obliged to send an Invitation To Register form (ITR) to anyone whose details were added to the HEF and who hasn’t then registered to vote online. People who receive an ITR must respond to this form but do not have to vote.

Reminder forms will be sent and anyone who does not respond to their ITR/refuses to register to vote could face an £80 fine.

Being on the electoral register also improves your credit rating.

What happens if I do not respond to the HEF or my ITR form?

If you do not respond to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) or Invitation To Register (ITR), we will send you at least one reminder letter. If you do not respond to the reminder, we are legally obliged to send a personal canvasser to your home with a further reminder.

There is a criminal penalty for failing to provide the information required by the HEF, incurring a maximum fine of £1,000. The penalty for knowingly providing false information is imprisonment of up to six months and/or an unlimited fine.

If you do not provide us with the information requested on the ITR, you could face a fine of £80. Failing to register means that you will be unable to vote and your credit rating could be affected.

I have received a request to provide evidence

If the details you submit when registering do not match those held by the DWP, we will contact you to request further information so we can confirm your identity and verify your electoral registration.

What if there is nobody in my household who is eligible to register to vote?

If there is nobody in your household who is eligible to register to vote, you still need to notify us by responding to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF).

If the HEF you have received is already blank, you can also record a “no change” over the phone, by text or online. If you are completing the paper form tick the relevant box at section 2 and sign the declaration at section 3.

If there are names pre-printed on the form put a line through the names and tick the relevant box at section 4 and sign the declaration at section 5.

What if I am the landlord of a business premises or an empty property and a Household Enquiry Form has been sent to the address?       

If you are the landlord of an empty property, it is your responsibility to respond to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) for that address.

If the property is a business premises please tick the relevant box in section 4 of a pre-printed HEF or section 2 of a blank HEF.

We will be moving soon

Please compete and return the form to us, otherwise you may receive a reminder and a personal visit. Get in touch with us when you have moved or register online at your new address at

I have recently changed my name, what do I do?

Please cross out your previous name and write in your new name. We will then send you a change of name form and you will be asked to provide a copy of evidence - for example, your marriage certificate.

If you have a postal vote you will be sent a new application form to update your signature.

My son/ daughter is 16, do I need to add him/her to the form? 

Yes, please add their details. They will be sent an Invitation To Register form (ITR) to complete so that they will be added to the electoral register as soon as they turn 18.

My son/daughter has gone to university but comes home each term, where should s/he register to vote?

Your son/daughter can register at their home address and university so long as s/he doesn’t vote more than once in the same election.

I only live here during the week for work, my main address is in another local authority, where should I register?     

If you are a second home owner and there is nobody else living at your second address, you are responsible for responding to the Household Enquiry Forms (HEFs) for both of your properties.

If you split your time equally between your two properties, you are entitled to be registered to vote at both addresses (although you can only vote from one location in national elections).

If you spend less than half of your time at your second property, or if you only wish to be registered at your primary address, please notify us by responding to the HEF.

If your name is added to the HEF at your second property and you do not subsequently register to vote at this address using the government website, we will send you an Invitation To Register (ITR) form in the post.

I am emigrating soon and won’t be coming back to the UK      

Once you have moved you can apply to register as an overseas elector for 15 years after you were last registered in the UK. This will enable you to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections. The easiest way is to apply online at  

I have concerns about my safety and don’t want my details to appear where someone can find them

If you are concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register because it could affect your safety, or the safety of someone living with you, you may be able to register anonymously.

We can send you an application form to register anonymously, which you should complete and return along with evidence to support your application.

I’m fed up of you giving my information out and receiving junk mail.

There are two versions of the register produced - the full register and the open register.

The full register is for use by political parties, candidates and their agents for election purposes; for law enforcement, the prevention and detection of crime, and for credit referencing purposes.

The open register is available for any purpose such as direct mailings and marketing. If you wish your name to be excluded from the open versions of the register you can do so by writing “No” in the “Included on open register?” section on the Household Enquiry Form.

Last Updated on Tuesday, February 11, 2020