Nigeria General Elections

What you should know about updating your PVC online in Nigeria

July 07, 2021 · 7 min read
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Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has announced the launch of the Commission’s online platform for prospective and registered voters to register and update their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

With the general elections approaching, Nigerians must have their PVCs ready to vote. And, with the launch of the Commission’s online platform, “INEC has been looking at ways to make voter registration easier, more accessible, and user-friendly.”

I applied for my PVC in 2018 when INEC officials visited my university, but the process was nerve-racking.

Such exercises draw large crowds to designated registration centres, one of which I visited five times in three days, missing lectures in the process.

In yet another tedious process, I went to the designated biometric centre to get my PVC a few weeks later. After collection, I recall saying, “Never again.” But because of this article, I tried to apply for a polling unit transfer on Monday, June 28, 2021.  

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to update your PVC.

Who can register or update their PVCs?

  • Nigerian citizens who are 18 or older but still have not received a voting card.
  • Registered voters wishing to change their polling stations.
  • Registered voters wishing to review or update their voting card information. 
  • Registered voters who have not collected their PVCs.
  • Registered voters who want to replace their damaged or stolen PVCs.

How to check if INEC has your details

You can confirm if INEC already has your details by doing either of the following: 

Method 1

  • Fill the form asking for the state of registration, your name (surname first), and date of birth.
  • Click on the ‘check status’ button.

Method 2

  • You can check your voter status using the Voter Identification Number (VIN) on your PVC.
  • Visit the Voters Status Verification link, and fill in your state of registration, last name (surname), and VIN. 
  • Click on ‘Check status’ to view your information.

A document will appear showing your Voter Identification Number (VIN), gender, occupation, time of registration, state, local government, registration area (ward), polling unit, and polling unit code.

How to update the details on an existing PVC

If your information appears — as mine did — you don’t need to re-register. But if necessary, you can update your PVC.

How to update the details on an existing PVC

Before you can update your PVC — replacing if defaced, transferring to another polling unit, or correcting the information on your voter’s card — you’ll be expected to review your voter record by adding the information that wasn’t on it the last time you registered.

To review your voter’s card information, click on ‘Review Information’ on the online registration portal.

When I registered, I didn’t have a National Identification Number  (NIN). But now that I have it, it was necessary to review my information on INEC’s record.

  • After adding my NIN, there was a request asking if I wanted to share my data with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).                                                                                       
  • I accepted, clicked on ‘Save and Continue’, and was directed to the next page.
  • On the next page, I took my passport photographs with my laptop’s webcam and clicked on the ‘Save and Continue’ button. 
  • I uploaded two clear passport photographs.

The first passport is expected to be a neutral face (no expression), while the second should be a smiling face.

  • After a successful upload, the system redirected me to a new page to download my printable slip as a PDF file.
  • Following INEC’s approval of your passport photos, proceed to the NIMC centre for fingerprint capturing at a scheduled date.

How to change your polling unit

Just as I did, you can follow these steps to change your voting location to another polling unit: 

  • On that page, I entered the state where I registered my PVC, name (surname first), date of birth, polling unit code (optional), and Voter Identification Number (VIN). 

Note: the polling unit code and VIN are on your PVC. For example, you’ll see your polling unit code in this format: Code: 23/05/04/003 and VIN: FA6R4GH1ME659876432.

  • Next was the ‘Important’ field where I was asked to choose between two options: ‘I am doing this for myself’ and ‘I am doing this for someone else’. 
  • I clicked on ‘I am doing it for myself’, then on ‘Search for Record’. 
  • After clicking on ‘Search for Record’, I was directed to review my information as seen in ‘How to update the details on an existing PVC’ above. 
  • The next page is an overview of my biodata which I couldn’t edit; only empty fields could be filled. For context, I couldn’t change my name, date of birth, and gender, but I filled in my new home address since I was about to change my polling unit.
  • The next section is for filling in additional information: country of residence, state of residence, and city or local government area.
  • Afterwards, I proceeded to fill in the details of my new polling unit, which include my state of residence, local government, registration area/ward, and preferred polling centre.
  • When I clicked on the local government, ward, and polling unit categories, I looked through the alternatives and chose the closest local government, ward, and polling unit to me.
  • While on the page, I attached a signed letter to INEC requesting to transfer to another polling unit. I attached the letter as a PDF before clicking on the ‘Save and Continue’ button.

Note: The request letter is a supporting document to back up your transfer. Apart from this, you can attach either a court affidavit, proof of name change, identity document, or other proof of identification. 

  • When I saved the application, I was directed to another page that showed that it was ‘pending’ — successful but awaiting approval. 
  • Once my request is approved, I’ll get an email.

How to find the closest centre to collect your PVC

If you have registered before, click on the CVR live locator page on INEC’s website to collect your PVC. 

  • Fill in your state of residence and local government area, and click on the search button. You’ll see when and where you can collect your PVC.

How to request a new PVC

If you have misplaced your PVC or it’s damaged, click on ‘Request a New Card’ here.

  • Log in and fill in the information to retrieve your voter registration record. Review the information and submit your application request for a replacement.

At the INEC registration centre

The final step is to visit a nearby INEC registration centre where your fingerprints will be captured. Subsequently, you can track your registration status online and wait until you are notified that your PVC is ready to be picked up at the designated area.

Unlike the NIN registration, where some online registrants had to re-register at the registration centres, when I visited the INEC office in my vicinity, Olalekan* — an INEC official — assured me that the process would not be stressful. However, this would depend on if all online applications were properly saved before visiting the biometric centre.

Olalekan says, “If you apply online, make sure your document is saved. Print or screenshot your application slip and take it with you when you visit your biometric centre on the scheduled date for fingerprint capture.

“INEC has made this registration easy for all prospective voters and voters who wish to apply for a new PVC or update their PVC. This can be done from the comfort of their homes,” 

When asked if there will be physical registration, the official says that INEC centres would be open to commencing physical registration for citizens who do not have access to the Internet or choose on-site registration from July 19, 2021. 

Concerning the PVC registration deadline, Olalekan says, “there is no set deadline as of yet. However, it appears that the registration process will take months.”

Closer to e-voting becoming a reality?

It is not news that Nigeria has been looking for ways to make e-voting a reality in recent years. Perhaps, implementing online Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) is another step toward making that a reality.

During the 2015 general elections, INEC introduced the use of digital card readers and electronic fingerprint readers in an attempt to run a transparent election.

Also, in 2018, the Kaduna State local government carried out the first e-voting exercise in Nigeria.

During the 2019 general elections, it was reported that 84 million people registered, and about 28 million votes were counted. Essentially, about 33% of the number of registered voters voted.

While we might be unable to quantify the number of persons who couldn’t vote due to card reader malfunctions, cancelled ballots, or voting disturbances, many polling locations around the country saw poor turnouts. This might be attributed to the lengthy voter registration procedure, among other things.

In 2018, we suspected that Nigeria might not be ready for e-voting for its general elections. However, if voters can conveniently register or update their PVCs online, it appears that Nigeria might successfully address election concerns and, possibly, adopt a blockchain system for its elections in the coming years.

*not real name

Victoria Fakiya

Victoria Fakiya


I am a neurodivergent person who is interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find me on Twitter @latoria_ria.

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