In order to register to vote you must be a British national or a citizen of the EU, Commonwealth countries, British Overseas Territories or British Crown Dependencies and be ordinarily resident in the UK. You have to be 18 or over on the date of an election to be able to vote, but you can be added to the register from 16.
Being on the electoral register entitles you to vote in elections and referendums in the UK. This may improve your UK credit rating, which will make it easier for you to get a bank loan or mortgage. Make sure you keep your electoral registration up to date! It is particularly important to notify your local council if you change address.
There are many state benefits available to specific groups of people, such as carers, disabled persons and families. Whether you can claim benefits will depend on your circumstances** including your household income. See further information about the different types of benefits, including eligibility criteria.
Parents with children under the age of 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training) may qualify for child benefit. This is a tax-free payment to help with the cost of bringing up children. (check eligibility for child benefit if you have moved to the UK).
**If you are on a visa of any type, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim state benefits (such as child benefit). In particular, claiming any such benefit incorrectly can have an impact on any future applications for a visa or for Indefinite Leave to Remain. University employees should contact the Staff Immigration Team for advice.