If you’re a younger LGBTQ+ person, you may not have an accepted form of photo Voter ID. You may also struggle to have access to personal documents like birth certificates or passports which are required for applying for many other forms of photo ID, especially if family relationships are strained.

We’ve collected the most important information about how the rules may impact you, and how to overcome obstacles you might face to get accepted forms of photo Voter ID.

NUS Extra (TOTUM discount) and 16-30 rail travel cards aren’t approved for voting

First, it’s important to check whether you’re already got accepted forms of photo Voter ID that you can use in an election. Read What photo ID can I use to vote? to see the list of photo IDs that you can use at a polling station.

Student ID and travel cards for younger people are not accepted forms of photo Voter ID under the Elections Act (2022). This means taht you can’t use your:

  • NUS Extra (TOTUM) Discount Card
  • 16-25 National Railcard
  • 26-30 National Railcard
  • 16+ Zip Oyster photocard
  • 18+ Student Oyster photocard

This means that many young, queer people will need to get new photo ID, or retrieve existing photo ID.

The free Voter Authority Certificate

An easy way to get photo Voter ID in upcoming elections is through the Free Voter Authority Certificate. It’s a form of photo ID specifically made for use in elections and you can get it for free. It’s a zero-cost option to enable you to vote. All you’ll need to provide is: 

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your date of birth
  • Your National Insurance number
  • A valid photo of yourself

If you don’t know your National Insurance number then you can still apply, but you may be asked to supply other supporting documents to prove who you are. 

Find more details about the Free Voter Authority Certificate and how to apply.

My family has my photo ID / documents

For young LGBTQ+ people who have a good relationship with their family, the first step should be to ask your family to return your passport, birth certificate, or other documentation you need. You should only do this if it’s safe to do so, do not put yourself under unnecessary stress or danger. If you are estranged from your family, or it isn’t safe to contact them, then you might try asking an intermediary to fetch your documents for you. Don’t put yourself in any unnecessary danger.

Your family has no legal right to withhold your photo ID, but it may not be practical to retrieve them without your family’s consent.

Photo ID you can get without your passport / birth certificate

If you have no access to existing photo ID and documents like your birth certificate and don’t want to use a free Voter Authority Certificate to vote, then there is another option.  

All PASS (National Proof of Age Standards Scheme) cards are approved for use in elections. Citizencard is one of these photo ID cards (click here to view all PASS cards) and it provides a route for acquiring photo ID without requiring supplementary documents. Instead of directly providing your passport or birth certificate, you can instead provide a referee. In this case, this professional person who has access to documents that can confirm your identity.

Certain rules apply, your referee must work in a profession where their details can be verified: for instance, they are published online. They can’t be your guardian, foster carer, spouse, civil partner, fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend. You also can’t live with your referee.  

There are two different kinds of referee you can use:

Route 1 referees need to see and check an original document confirming your identity.

If they know you personally, they can use documents like:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service certificate (DBS)
  • European National ID Card (must bear a recent likeness to you)
  • Global or European Health Insurance Card
  • Gender Recognition Certificate
  • If they don’t know you personally, they can use a more limited range of documents.

Route 2 referees may be more useful for people who haven’t had many, or any forms of photo ID that leave a paper trail. These referees can verify your identity by official records held at their place of work. 

This means that you could potentially use the following people as referees:

  • Teacher / University / Tutor / Head of Year / Administrator / Careers Adviser at your School / College / Lecturer
  • Doctor/ Dentist / Nurse
  • Bank / Building Society staff member at your branch

See the full list of referees and documents that Citizencard accepts.

It’s also a low-cost option. A Citizencard is only £15 and takes 21 days to process. It’s also one of the few routes by which you can acquire an accepted form of photo VoterID without personal access.

Start the application process for a Citizencard here.

Supported by the Greater London Authority, City Hall, Kamal Chunchie Way, London E16 1ZE. Printed and promoted by LGBT HERO, Unit 74, The Link, 49 Effra Road, London SW2 1BZ