Annual Canvass

The Annual Canvass of the Electoral Register has started

At the end of July 2017 every household will be sent a Household Enquiry Form (HEF) showing the details we currently hold for that address. From 15 September to 22 October 2017 canvassers will be visiting the homes that have not responded by then. A final reminder will be sent in the post at the beginning of November 2017.

Only one person needs to complete the form per household. They can do so on behalf of everyone living there.

Please respond quickly to ensure that we do not send reminders costing the council more money. Also responding online, by phone or by text is the simplest, quickest and cheapest way to respond. If you do this you do not need to send back the paper form.

Please note that if your name is not on the Electoral Register you will not be able to vote in any elections or referendums and you may also have trouble obtaining credit such as a mortgage or loan etc. Paying Council Tax does not automatically put you on the Electoral Register.

Whether you decide to use your vote or not is your choice but failure to respond to the Annual Canvass could lead to a fine of up to £1000.

A new register will be published and available for inspection on 1 December 2017 following completion of the annual canvass. We encourage you to check your details to ensure that the information that we hold is correct.

Annual Canvass 2017 - Frequently asked questions

  1. I have received a Household Enquiry form (HEF), what do I have to do with it?

    If you need to make changes (add names, remove names, change names/other details)
    You can complete the form online at
    OR you can complete the paper form and return it to us in the prepaid envelope provided.

    If there are no changes
    You can complete the form online at
    OR you can call Freephone number 0800 197 9871.
    OR you can text NOCHANGE and your security code to 80212.
    OR you can sign the paper form and return it to us in the prepaid envelope provided.

    To use the online, phone or text service you will need the two part security number that is printed on your form. If you do use the online, phone or text service, please do not return the paper copy of the form.

  2. What changes can I make?
    You can go online at OR use the paper form to:
    • Delete the names of anyone who no longer lives there.
    • Add the names of anyone aged 16 or over who is not already printed on the form.
    • Advise us of a change of name or correct the spelling of a name.
    • Tell us if anyone is aged 76 or over.
    • Change or correct your nationality (we may need to contact you for evidence of change).
    • Request an application form to vote by post or proxy at future elections.
    • Opt out of the open register.
    • Tell us if there is nobody at the address who is eligible to register and why.
  3. I have added my name online/on the form, what should I do next?
    If you have added your name to the HEF, you should go online to and complete the individual registration application. If you do this straight away we will not have to send you an individual registration form after we have processed the HEF.
  4. What will happen after I complete the HEF?
    The HEF is not a registration form, we have to use it to gather information. Once we receive your response, we will:
    • Amend any details that you tell us about (eg: spelling corrections, nationality etc.) Name changes will be sent a form to complete to verify the change.
    • Send an individual registration form to any eligible people that have been added. (if they have not already registered online).
    • Delete the name of anyone that you have told us is no longer living there.

    If your name was pre-printed on the form and there were no changes to be made, you will not need to do anything else. If you added your name and you have not already completed the individual application online, we will send you an individual registration form which you must respond to either by going online to or by completing the paper form and returning it to us in the prepaid envelope provided.

  5. Why have you sent me this form, I have lived at this address for years?
    We are required by law to conduct an annual canvass which involves sending the form to properties to check that the information we hold is correct. You must ensure that you respond to the HEF otherwise you may be removed from the register.
  6. I have not received a form, what should I do?
    If you have recently informed us that you are the sole occupier of the property, you may not receive a form and you do not need to do anything. If you are not a sole occupier and you have not received a form please contact us on 01279 446042 or email
  7. There are names already printed on the form, shall I forward it to them?
    No. The form is for whoever is living at the property now. You should add the names of all people aged 16 or over that now live at the property and cross out the names of anyone who no longer lives there.
  8. I am moving house soon, what shall I do with the form?
    You must respond to the form for where you are currently living. Once you have moved you can register at your new address by going to
  9. Why are my details not on the form when I told you that I moved here recently?
    You may have informed Council Tax that you have moved in but unfortunately paying council tax does not automatically put you on the Electoral Register. Also, we have to send the data to the printers some time before sending out the forms and so you may be registered but missed the date to be included with the data that is printed on the household form. Please add your name to the form and if you do still need to register we will send you the necessary individual registration form.
  10. I have made a mistake using the automated service what shall I do?
    If you realise that you have made an error using the online, phone or text service you should complete the paper form with the correct details and return it in the post. If you have already thrown the form away, please contact us and we can send a replacement. You can contact us by phone on 01279 446042 or by email to
  11. I have bought a property in Harlow but I will not be resident there because it is being refurbished, what shall I do with the form?
    You can complete the form online at and state why no one should be registered (eg: property empty).
    OR cross out any names pre-printed on the form and complete the ‘nobody eligible to vote’ section of the form to say that the property is empty then sign the declaration and return the form in the post using the prepaid envelope.
  12. I am taking a gap year and going travelling for a year do I still need to register?
    Yes. It is advisable to stay registered at your home address and to request a postal or proxy application form if you will still be away and wish to vote in the next election.
  13. My son/daughter is away at university, shall I cross their name out?
    Students can register at their term-time address and their home address, it is up to them where they register. Although as they tend to move around a lot it is often best for students to make sure that they are registered at their home address.
  14. The only person that lives at the property cannot sign, can I sign it for them?
    If the sole occupier of the property cannot sign, you can help them complete the form online at as this does not require a signature.
    OR you can complete and sign the paper form on their behalf if they are unable to do so as long as you write clearly who you are, why the resident cannot sign themselves and provide a contact number or email address.
  15. If I register do I have to vote?
    No. It is up to you whether you vote or not but being on the register will give you that option. Nonetheless, you are required by law to respond to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF).
  16. What happens if I do not respond to the HEF?
    We are required by law to send you reminders, one of which will be a personal visit from a canvasser. Please remember that it is a legal requirement to be registered (even if you do not wish to vote).
  17. I own a second home and spend time at both, can I complete both forms?
    You can only register at both addresses if they are in different authorities and you spend equal amount of time in each place. If you do not spend equal time, then you need to register at the address where you spend most of your time and respond to the form for the other property stating that it is a second home. If both properties are in Harlow, you should register at the one where you actually live/spend most time.
  18. I own a second property but do not live in it, do I have to put my name on the form?
    No. You should only be registered at the property you live in. If you have tenants in your second property, they should be registered at that address.
  19. I do not own the property, I am just a tenant, should I give the form to my landlord?
    No. It does not matter who owns the property, the form should be completed by the people actually living there.
  20. I am not British and not eligible to vote do I still need to complete the form?
    Yes. We must have a response to the HEF from every household, even if no one is eligible to vote. You need to complete section 4 of the form.
  21. Who can sign the form?
    Any person in the household that is 18 or over and whose name appears on the form can sign it on behalf of the household. If a property is empty, the person responsible for the property should sign the form (eg: owner, landlord etc.).
  22. I am trying to get credit but they cannot find me on the register, can you help?
    We publish monthly updates to the register and it is up to the credit reference agencies how quickly they update their records.
    Due to the annual canvass taking place, the last update is sent on 1 September and the revised register is then published on 1 December. If your application to register was received after 10 August 2017 (the deadline for the September update) then the credit reference agencies will not have your details until 1 December 2017.
  23. What is the Open Register and what does opting-out mean?
    The Open Register is an extract of the Electoral Register that can be sold to anyone but you can choose to stop this happening by opting-out of appearing on the Open Register.
    The Electoral Register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. It is used for electoral purposes and for other limited purposes specified in law.
    The Open Register is an extract of the Electoral Register which can be bought by any person or company and can be used for commercial purposes (eg: for marketing or to confirm name and address details). Removing your details from the Open Register (opting out) does not affect your right to vote but means that your details will not appear on any register that is sold.
  24. When is the new register published and how can I check that I am on it?
    The new register will be published on 1 December 2017. If you wish to check your details, you can go to Contact Harlow at the Civic Centre and ask to inspect the register.
  25. I have a different question, how do I contact Electoral Services?
    If you have a query you can call 01279 446042 or you can email