This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.

Voter Authority Certificates (VACs) are a new form of photo ID for use when voting in UK Parliamentary, PCC and English local elections. They are designed for people who don’t have another form of photo ID accepted at the polls.

VACs can only be used as proof of ID when voting. They don’t display the holders date of birth or address. Those who need ID to prove their identity or age for another purpose (like setting up a bank account or purchasing alcohol), should look for a different form of ID.

How much does it cost?

VACs are completely free. There is no fee to pay when applying.

Applying for a VAC

VAC applications can be made online or by post.

Applicants must be registered to vote to apply. They’re required to provide their name, address, date of birth, national insurance number (NINO) and a passport style photo when applying. The photo can be uploaded digitally as part of the online application.

NINOs are normally displayed on pay checks and official letters about tax. The Library has provided information on getting a national insurance number for people who don’t have or don’t know theirs.

Providing a photo

The photo must be:

  • at least 45 millimetres in height and 35 millimetres in width and no larger than 297 millimetres in height or 210 millimetres in width.
  • colour
  • Show the applicant’s head and shoulders only.
  • Show the applicant should be facing forward
  • Show the applicant’s face (with a blank expression) clearly.

The Electoral Commission has provided more information on providing a photo on its page on applying for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Is there a deadline?  

VAC applications are open all year round but there are deadlines associated with specific elections.

The deadline to apply for a VAC in time for the English local elections on 4 May 2023 is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

Further information


The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.

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