A general election is to be held in the UK on 4 July 2024.

The general election timetable for 2024, below, is derived from the timetable information published by the Electoral Commission.

Key events that make elections possible are set out in legislation and must be followed by returning officers, who are responsible for the conduct of elections in their constituencies.

Election timetables for UK general and parliamentary by-elections are set out in the parliamentary elections rules in schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, as amended. These include things like nominations to stand in the election and polling day.

There are also key dates for voters wanting to register to vote and apply for or proxy votes, but these are contained in regulations set out in secondary legislation. There are three separate sets of regulations for the three legal jurisdictions of the UK – England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The table below shows the key dates relating to the 2024 election.

2024 election timetable
Day Event Date Day
0 Dissolution of Parliament and return of writs 30-May Thursday
1 Returning officers receive writs 31-May Friday
2 03-June Monday
3 Last day for publishing notice of election (by 4pm) 04-June Tuesday
4 05-June Thursday
5 06-June Friday
6 Deadline for submitting or withdrawing a nomination (4pm)
Publication of statement of persons nominated (5pm)
07-June Friday
7 10-June Monday
8 11-June Tuesday
9 12-June Wednesday
10 13-June Thursday
11 14-June Friday
12 17-June Monday
13 Deadline to register to vote (by midnight) 18-June Tuesday
14 Deadline for new postal vote applicants or amending existing absent voting arrangements 19-June Wednesday
15 20-June Thursday
16 21-June Friday
17 24-June Monday
18 25-June Tuesday
19 Deadline for new applications to vote by proxy (5pm). After 5pm it may be possible to apply for an emergency proxy in certain circumstances, but they are not available on demand.
Deadline for applications for voter authority certificates (VACs, by 5pm)
26-June Wednesday
20 27-June Thursday
21 First day voters can apply for a replacement for a lost postal vote 28-June Friday
22 01-July Monday
23 02-July Tuesday
24 03-July Wednesday
25 Polling day – 7am to 10pm
Deadline for emergency proxy applications (5pm)
Deadline for re-issue of spoilt or lost postal votes (5pm)
Deadline for production of temporary VACs (10pm)
04-July Thursday

How long is the timetable?

The general election timetable takes 25 working days. Weekends and bank holidays (in any part of the UK) do not count. There are no bank holidays in the period of this general election.

The start of the timetable occurs when Parliament is dissolved. This counts as day zero. Polling day is 25 working days later, when polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

What is dissolution?

Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament. At dissolution all the business in both Houses comes to an end and all MPs lose their seats in the House of Commons.

Dissolution triggers the issuing of new writs to elect new Members of Parliament.

What is a writ?

Writs are legal documents which authorise a general election. A writ is issued for each constituency and sent to the relevant returning officer. There are 650 constituencies in the UK Parliament.

Writs are deemed to have been delivered the day after dissolution even if the physical delivery of the writ is delayed.

What is a returning officer?

A returning officer or acting returning officer is the person responsible for running all aspects of the election in a constituency. They are usually the chief executive or senior director of the local district or unitary council.

They get their name because they return the writ to inform Parliament who has won the seat and been elected an MP.

In England and Wales, the returning officer for a parliamentary election is a ceremonial role held by the sheriff of the county or chairman of a council. The role of running the election is delegated to the acting returning officer who is a senior council officer.

In Scotland the returning officer is a senior council officer. In Northern Ireland the returning officer is the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland.

What is an absent vote?

An absent vote refers to arrangements to vote by post or by proxy (someone voting on your behalf at a polling station).

Rules about whether you can apply for an absent vote vary depending on where someone lives and anyone wanting to apply for an absent vote should check the Electoral Commission website’s Ways to vote pages.

In certain circumstances voters may be able to apply for an emergency proxy after the normal proxy voting deadline. Emergency proxy applications can be made up to 5pm on polling day. The Electoral Commission’s Emergency proxy vote pages provides more detail.

Voter ID

Voters who want to vote in person at a polling station must take photographic ID. The list of allowable ID is on the Electoral Commission’s Voter ID pages

Voters without one of the listed types of photo ID can apply for a voter authority certificate (VAC). The Electoral Commission’s Applying for a Voter Authority Certificate pages explains how to apply.

Temporary VACs can be issues for a specific polling day if someone loses their VAC or it is not delivered. This can only be done under specific circumstances and the election team at a local council is the best place to deal with requests.

A temporary VAC may be issued up to 10pm on polling day, but if issued a voter must get to the polling station before 10pm in order to vote.

Further reading about the general election

For more information about the 2024 general election, visit the Commons Library’s general election and voting in the UK page.

About the author: Neil Johnston is researcher specialising in elections at the House of Commons Library.

Photo credit: Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

Corrections and clarifications

This Insight was updated on 28 May 2024 to correct an error in the table. The events occurring on days 13 and 14 were previously listed for days 12 and 13.

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