One of the main tips you’ll find on any site giving advice on credit scores is to make sure you are registered to vote. But why is this so important? Why are the banks or financial institutions interested in whether we pop into the polling station to put our X on a ballot paper?

What is the Electoral Roll?

The Electoral Roll in the UK is a list of people who are eligible to vote. Whether those people actually vote or not doesn’t really matter. It’s more about having their names on the public register which links them to their home address. If lenders have no way of confirming that you live where you say you do, then they are unlikely to want to lend you any money. Even if a lender is still inclined to offer you an account, they will want to see other proof of your address and identity. Providing this extra paperwork all takes time, so being on the electoral roll just makes everything quicker and more efficient.

Other Reasons to Be on the Electoral Roll

Being on the electoral register definitely makes things easier when applying for credit, but there are other reasons why you might wish to be on the electoral register too. Many other public services need to confirm your identity too, and the electoral roll is often checked when you apply for a passport, driving licence or government benefits. Many jobs in the financial sector involve a degree of background checking before you start work and confirming that you live at the address you have given is a key aspect of this.

How Do I Register to Vote?

Even if you have no interest in politics or voting, it’s important to be on the list of voters for all of the reasons laid out above. How you register will depend on where in the UK you live. If you are a resident of England, Wales, or Scotland, then you can register to vote online. Every year, the local council will also send a letter to the house, asking for confirmation of voters registered at that address. Voters in Northern Ireland have to complete a voting registration form, which can be done online.

Students who are living away from home in Halls often find it is better to register at a permanent address such as their parents’ house. Your credit score can be adversely affected if lenders see lots of addresses over a short period of time, so rather than registering and de-registering each year, just stick with one main address.

Once you have registered to vote, it will take some time for your details to be updated on the databases held by the main credit referencing agencies. Usually, this happens within 30 days and if you’re in the habit of checking your credit score regularly, you should see your number increase when the database is updated. If, however you wait for the letter from the council to arrive in the post to register as a voter, it might take longer for your file to be updated, as councils send all the data about newly registered voters through to the council in one batch after the process has completed.

If you are not eligible to vote in the UK because you are a citizen of another country, then there are other ways round this. Credit agencies are well aware of the issue and can add a note to your file stating the reason why you are not on the electoral roll. This should make getting credit easier in those circumstances.