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Photo ID needed to vote – how much will it cost?

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Brits will have to show photo identification to vote in future general elections, but critics say it will deter poorer and younger voters from having their say.

At the moment, most voters in the UK don’t need to take any proof of identification to polling stations – you can simply show up and give your name and address. The only exception is Northern Ireland where voters need to provide photo ID before receiving a ballot paper.

But the government has announced in the Queen’s Speech that a new law will mean voters will need to show their passport or driving licence to cast their votes.

The government argues that ‘every ballot matters’, and that voter ID will protect voters from having their vote stolen. Since 2014 the Electoral Commission has recommended that photo ID should be required in the rest of the UK. In December 2015 the commission published a report on options for delivering and costing a voter ID scheme.

The commission estimated that limiting the acceptable form of ID to passports and photographic driving licences could potentially see almost a quarter of the electorate without acceptable photo ID.

Civil liberties groups and race equality campaigners say that the new law could deter thousands of lower income and ethnic minority voters from voting, as they can’t afford to buy the necessary identification documents.

How much does a passport cost?

How much your passport costs depends on how you apply for it – it’s cheaper if you do it online.

A 10-year standard 34-page passport costs £75.50 if you apply online, and £85 if you apply in paper format. Frequent travellers can apply for a 50-page passport which costs £85.50 online or £95 for a paper application.

You can pay for a faster service if you need a passport within the next three weeks. The one-week fast track service costs £142 for a standard passport or £152 for a 50-page passport.

Passports for people born on or before 2 September 1929 are free.

How much does a driving licence cost?

A provisional driving licence for a car, motorcycle or moped costs £34 online or £43 by post. You don’t need to have passed your driving test to get provisional licence.

When you pass your driving test, it’s free to upgrade your provisional licence to a full driving licence. But if you need to use a different photo from your provisional licence it will cost £17.

Replacing a lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed licence costs £20. Your licence is valid for 10 years – after that it costs £14 to renew it online or £17 by post. Drivers aged over 70 can renew their licence for free.

Some people with disabilities or certain medical conditions might not be allowed to have a driving licence – so they will be forced to apply for a passport at a minimum cost of £75.50 if they want to vote.