The government holds a referendum when it wants to consult people on a particular issue. They can also be held to consult on local issues, such as electing a mayor.
If you’re eligible to vote and are registered on the electoral list, you can take part in a referendum.
To date, only two UK-wide referendums have been held.
The first one was in 1975 to determine whether or not Britain should remain in the Common Market.
The second one was in 2011 to determine whether the system for electing the UK Parliament should change from the current first-past-the-post system to the Alternative Vote system.
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) sets out the legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held across the UK, or a referendum held in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. It also applies to any regional referendums within England.
Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm