Britain will go to the polls on Thursday June 8 after MPs endorsed Theresa May's surprise call for a snap General Election.
An election had not been due to take place until May 2020 and comes after the prime minister repeatedly insisted she would not seek an early vote.
Here is what it all means and the key days ahead:
- Why has Theresa May called an early General Election?
The prime minister said a fresh general election was "the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead" as the UK prepares for Brexit.
Mrs May argued the Conservative's small majority was emboldening opponents in Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP at a time when the country needed "certainty, stability and strong leadership".
- How did MPs respond?
A debate on the PM's motion for an early poll saw the prime minister's justifications for going to the nation largely criticised by the opposition.
Labour rejected her claim that the election was needed to strengthen the government going into Brexit negotiations while the Lib Dems accused Mrs May of seeking a "coronation".
However, when it came to voting MPs overwhelmingly supported the move to go to the country by 522 to 13.
- What happens now?
There will be a short "wash-up" period to clear outstanding legislation such as the Finance Bill that will enable the funding of the government to carry on.
- EU leaders meet
European Union leaders will meet in Brussels for a summit on Saturday April 29, when the remaining 27 member states are expected to approve guidelines on Brexit.
A spokesman for European Council president Donald Tusk said: "The UK elections do not change our EU27 plans.
"We expect to have the Brexit guidelines adopted by the European Council on April 29 and following that the Brexit negotiating directives ready on May 22.
"This will allow the EU27 to start negotiations."
- Parliament dissolved
Parliament is expected to dissolve on Wednesday May 3.
It will be 25 days before polling and will mark the start of official campaigning.
- Local elections
There is a full contest for 34 English councils, including 27 county councils, 32 Scottish councils and 22 Welsh councils on Thursday May 4.
Some 4,851 seats are up for grabs.
Elections will also take place for directly elected mayors in six devolved new super-regions, plus two existing councils.
However it seems unlikely the Commons by-election at Manchester Gorton, which was called following the death of Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, will go ahead.
- Deadline for nominations
Voters should know by Thursday May 11 which candidates are running, who is standing down and who has been deselected.
- Deadline for registering to vote
The deadline for registering to vote is likely to be on Monday May 22, and Wednesday May 31 for those making an application for a proxy vote - so that your ballot can be cast by someone on your behalf.
- Polling day
The UK will go to the polls on Thursday, June 8 - with the outcome of the General Election known in the early hours of Friday, June 9.
- New opening of Parliament
Assuming there is a clear majority and no delay, the new opening of Parliament could be in the week starting Monday, June 12.