An individual running for a seat in the House or Senate or for the office of U.S. President becomes a candidate when he or she raises or spends more than $5,000 in contributions or expenditures. Money raised and spent to test the waters does not count toward this dollar threshold until the individual decides to run for federal office or conducts activities that indicate he or she is actively campaigning rather than testing the waters. The $5,000 threshold is reached when:
- The individual and/or persons they have authorized to conduct campaign activity receive over $5,000 in contributions or make over $5,000 in expenditures; or
- The individual fails to disavow unauthorized campaign activity by writing a letter to the FEC within 30 days after being notified by the agency that another person or group has received contributions or made expenditures of more than $5,000 on the individual’s behalf.
Within 15 days after an individual becomes a candidate as described, they must designate a principal campaign committee. This designation is made by filing either a Statement of Candidacy (Form 2) or a letter with the same information. A candidate required to file electronically cannot designate a principal campaign committee with a written letter but must instead file Form 2.
All candidates file with the FEC, electronically or by paper.
The Statement of Candidacy requires a candidate’s signature. It collects some basic information, including the candidate's name and address. It’s also where candidates authorize any campaign committees working for them.
Register as a candidate using one of the following options:
Read step-by-step Form 2 instructions.
Updating an existing registration
A candidate (including an incumbent) must file a Form 2 for each election cycle in which he or she is a candidate.
If Mr. Jones, who was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, wishes to run again in the next regularly scheduled election, he must amend his Form 2 within 15 days after crossing the $5,000 registration threshold for the next election cycle. In addition, a separate Form 2 must be filed for any special election in which the candidate is running. For example, if Mr. Jones is also participating in an upcoming special election in his district, he must file a Form 2 for the special election year.
Updating the principal campaign committee
Using Form 2, the candidate may either redesignate their previous campaign committee (if it has not been terminated) or designate a new principal campaign committee.
If the candidate redesignates an existing committee, the committee need only amend its Statement of Organization (Form 1) within 10 days to reflect any new information (for example, a change in the committee's name or address). The redesignated committee will retain its original FEC identification number. (Note: Redesignated committees are reminded that, if outstanding debts remain from the previous election, the committee must continue to report the debts as well as the contributions that have been designated by contributors to retire them.)
If the candidate designates a new principal campaign committee, the committee must file a new Statement of Organization (Form 1) within 10 days after being designated. The newly designated committee will receive a new FEC identification number.
Other authorized committees
In addition to the principal campaign committee, the candidate may designate other authorized committees to receive contributions or make expenditures on their behalf. The following steps must be taken:
Action by candidate
The candidate designates the authorized committee by filing a statement (either Form 2 or a letter) with the principal campaign committee.
Action by authorized committee
Within 10 days after being designated by the candidate, the authorized committee must file a Statement of Organization (Form 1) with the candidate’s principal campaign committee.
Action by principal campaign committee
The principal campaign committee, in turn, files the documents with the FEC.
Registering for special elections
In addition, a separate Form 2 must be filed for any special election in which the candidate is running. The candidate can designate the same principal campaign committee or designate a new committee to raise and spend funds for the regularly scheduled elections.