How can I stand in an election?

Standing for Parliament

If you are considering standing as a candidate for the UK General Election read our quick step by step guide below to get a snapshot of what's involved.

Full candidate guidance is provided by the Electoral Commission, the independent body that regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections.

First steps for standing as a candidate

Step 1: First, find out if you are eligible to stand. In the UK Parliamentary General Election all candidates must be 18 years old or over and either:

  • a British citizen
  • a citizen of the Republic of Ireland
  • a citizen of a commonwealth country who does not require leave to enter or remain in the UK, or has indefinite leave to remain in the UK

Certain groups of people are not allowed to stand, these include:

  • members of the police forces
  • members of the armed forces
  • civil servants and judges
  • people who are subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order in England or Wales or a debt relief restrictions order in England or Wales or a debt relief restrictions order
  • people who have been adjudged bankrupt in Northern Ireland
  • people who have had their estate confiscated (sequestrated) in Scotland

Step 2: Once Parliament has dissolved in preparation for the election, you or another person needs to declare your candidacy. The timing of the declaration will impact on your spending limits and entitle you to a free copy of the electoral register.

Step 3: Next you need to become a ‘validly nominated’ candidate, which means your name will appear on a ballot paper. To do this you need to submit a completed set of nomination forms along with a deposit of £500 to the (Acting) Returning Officer before 4pm on the deadline day for nominations.

Step 4: All candidates need to appoint an election agent, who is the person responsible for the management of your election campaign and its financial management. If you do not appoint an agent, you will become your own agent by default.

Step 5: You will probably want to plan and run a campaign to let voters in your area know what you stand for. All 'validly nominated' candidates are entitled to free postage for one election communication to electors in your constituency, as well as the use of certain rooms to hold public meetings. You can find more information, along with guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed on the Electoral Commissions website.

Step 6: On the Election Day itself you can choose to attend the polling station and the count. If you are successful, your win will be publicly announced and you will be invited to swear an oath at Parliament before you take your seat as an MP.

Further information

Visit the Electoral Commission website for more guidance on Candidates and Agents.

Websites of the political parties

Below are links to the websites of the political parties represented in the House of Commons:

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Related information

Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is an independent body, accountable directly to the UK Parliament, that regulates elections in the UK, promotes voter awareness and works to build confidence in the electoral process.

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.