Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers – the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).
The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.
The register is used for electoral purposes – such as making sure only eligible people can vote – and for other limited purposes specified in law. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.
Who uses the electoral register?
Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes.
Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision. A copy is also held by the Electoral Commission, the Boundary Commissions (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics.
The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime. The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement.
The register is used when calling people for jury service.
Government departments may buy the register from local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applicants and employees.
Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.
The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.
Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register would not affect your right to vote.
Who uses the open register?
Users of the open register include:
businesses checking the identity and address details 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, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers
charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other
charities, to help with fundraising and contacting people who have made donations
debt-collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors
direct-marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists
landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants
local councils when identifying and contacting residents
online directory firms to help users of the websites find people, such as when reuniting friends and families
organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies
private-sector firms to verify details of job applicants.
Around the time of elections or referendums, promotional material from campaign groups is often sent out. Official campaigns are provided with registers that detail the addresses of people who have a postal vote. Read the code of conduct for campaigners (PDF).
The current electoral register is open to inspection, but people cannot search for your name. It is kept in address order within each of the 18 electoral wards. You can view the register between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Thursday, and between 8:30am and 4:30pm on Fridays at the Council House.
You are not able to view the Electoral Registers from the last 10 years. However, copies of the Open Registers prior to 10 years ago can be viewed at the Coventry Archives and Research Centre.
If you have registered to vote recently you will receive a letter through the post to confirm that you have been added to the Register and the Elector Number that you have been allocated.
If you are unable to find the confirmation letter we can arrange a Certificate of Residency for a fee of £5, This is available from Electoral Services. Please ensure that you are listed on the Electoral Register before you make this payment. Contact us on 027 7683 3034 to check that you are registered prior to making the payment.
To find out if you are registered to vote, telephone Electoral Services or e-mail the Electoral Services Office.