How Are You Notified If You Win the Lottery? How to Claim? How Are You Paid?

national lottery station in a shopThe United Kingdom’s National Lottery has been in operation since 1994 and has proceeded to make several people millionaires throughout those years. With the introduction of additional lottery games, such as the Thunderball and the EuroMillions, those who are feeling lucky have multiple options to select from now. But what happens if you do become one of the big winners of one of these lotteries? How exactly is it that you’re notified?

Obviously, when you participate in the lottery, you have a ticket that features your numbers. You can then correlate these numbers with the day’s drawn winning numbers. Yet, there are some people who participate in the game online through direct debit, and don’t particularly look at the results each time they’re drawn. How do you know if you are a winner in these circumstances? What happens if the winner cannot be located?

Furthermore, once a winner of a big reward has been found, how do they claim their prize? How is this money paid out to such a big winner? That is exactly what we’re going to be looking at here. If you believe that one day you’ll hit it big on The National Lottery, here’s a guide to pretty much everything that will happen once that occurs.

How To Claim When You Win The Lottery?

playing the lottery

The National Lottery operating in the United Kingdom operates pretty much the same as any other style of lottery. Players purchase tickets with one or more lines of numbers on them, and these numbers are their entries. Each line of numbers, of which there are six, costs £2 when it comes to the standard lottery or the EuroMillions. Others like the Lotto Hot Picks and Set for Life lotteries cost between £1 and £1.50.

The traditional way of finding out if you are a winner in these circumstances is to check your ticket against the drawn numbers, as noted. If you play online by direct debit though, it is quite common for players to not keep checking back on these. Instead, the National Lottery usually sends an email to let you know that you’ve won on your chosen lottery or lotteries. This is what happens regardless of whether you’ve won £5 or £50,000.

Where do you go from here once you know you’re a winner?

Call the Number

customer serviceIf you have received an email telling you that you’re a big winner or if you have seen it on your own ticket, then you need to proceed with calling the phone number provided. This allows you to get in touch with Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery. The telephone number will be displayed on the back of the ticket that you have bought, if this has been done physically. Otherwise, it will be displayed on the email sent to you from the website.

It's important to remember that when you are a winner, you have 180 days from the date of the draw to claim your prize. Again, this is regardless of whether or not you’ve won a minimal amount or a huge jackpot. The 180-day period is set in place and you need to be a claimant before that time period runs out. Once you speak with Camelot, they will indeed verify if you are or aren’t a big winner, and then you have various ways to claim the reward if it is up to £50,000 in value. Anything above this amount has alternative payment processes in place.

Claiming a Prize of Up to £50,000

winnerIt generally depends upon the amount of money that you win as to how you’re able to receive the funds. So, let’s have a bit of a run-down on the different prize values and where you claim them from.

  • Prizes Up to and Including £100: These can be claimed from any National Lottery retailer.
  • Prizes Up to and Including £500: You can sometimes claim these from National Lottery retailers, although they’re not required to make payments for prizes of over £100. Should you not be able to claim at a National Lottery retailer or Post Office, you need to claim your money through the postal service. Simply send your winning ticket to:

    The National Lottery
    PO Box 287
    Watford
    WD18 9TT

    If you use this method for a win of over £5,000, then you will need to also complete a Prize Claim Form and send this along with your ticket.
  • Prizes Over £500 Up to and Including £50,000: Designated Post Offices with a National Lottery terminal can provide you with these rewards. However, if you can’t claim in this way, then you will need to claim by post, as mentioned above. You will always need to provide proof of identity and age with such a win, too.

    Acceptable forms of identification include a copy of your passport, photo driving licence, UK original birth certificate issued within 12 months of birth, UK biometric residence permit, PASS Card, HM Forces/Police Photo ID Card, valid EU photo ID card etc. A proof of address comes in the form of a bank or building society statement issued to current address, a household bill, Council Tax statement, Mortgage statement, Pension, endowment or ISA statement, current Television Licence etc.
  • Free Lotto Lucky Dip: If you manage to match 2 main numbers on Lotto, then you’ll win a free Lotto Lucky Dip from it. To do this, simply take your winning ticket to a retailer who will provide you with the option of receiving a Lotto Lucky Dip Ticket for the next Wednesday or Saturday Lotto Draw.

Claiming Prizes Above £50,000

lottery winner throwing money silhouetteIf you’re lucky enough to be a winner of a prize above £50,000, then you’ll need to claim this in person. Prior to proceeding with this, you need to call the National Lottery on 0333 234 50 50 to arrange it. You’ll also need to complete a Prize Claim Form and be sure to take a valid proof of identity and age along with any other relevant information to your claim.

Alternatively, a National Lottery advisor will come to your home in order to validate your ticket before paying out the money to you. This is usually when you see people in the newspapers clutching a huge cheque with their winnings written across it. Of course, it’s important not to lose the ticket prior to this meeting happening.

Andy Carter, who operates as the Senior Winners Advisor for The National Lottery, said that some people keep their winning tickets in strange places. In his 13 years working for the National Lottery, he said that the strangest occurrence of this for him though, was a man who kept his lucky winning ticket inside a snake tank! Speaking of the incident, Carter told BirminghamLive:

“I popped to his house and asked to see the winning ticket. The ticket was inside one of the little decorative houses in the tank being guarded by a huge snake. The winner wanted me to extract the ticket myself but there was no chance I was doing that as I was too scared.”

Online Direct Debit Wins

It’s a slightly different situation if you play the lottery online through the official website. With funds being taken out of your account for tickets by Direct Debit, you’re likely to find out you’re a winning player by email. If you don’t pay by Direct Debit and instead charge a debit card, then you’ll still receive an email, but you’ll need to confirm if you want the winnings paid to this same card.

In the circumstance of winning over £30,000 up to and including £50,000, you need to call 0333 234 44 33. Prizes of this amount will be paid out to you by cheque. Anything over £50,000 is paid out in the same method as those wins done via physical ticket.

In the case of a Direct Debit win, these can take between three and five business days to appear in your bank account after you have won. Again, with a win that is over £50,000, you need to call the same telephone number as above and an arrangement can be made for you to claim your winnings in person.

Share Your Victory or Remain Anonymous

You also have two options open to you when you’re a big jackpot winner. You can either remain anonymous or make it known that you have won a huge amount of money. It’s up to you how you proceed with this, and the advisor that you claim the big prize from will give you more information on this.

Naturally, there are pros and cons to each of these routes, so you’ll need to weigh up which one works out best for your own situation.

What If the Winner Doesn’t Come Forward or Can’t Be Found?

golden egg under magnifying glassThere have been several instances in the UK of people buying lottery tickets and then not realising that they’re a winner. Multiple occasions have seen it reported on the news that the National Lottery knows there is a winning ticket, but that someone hasn’t stepped forward to receive the money. This type of saga can go on for weeks at a time.

One woman from Witham in Essex went through a three-week period without realising she had won one of two Millionaire Maker prizes in the EuroMillions. Having played online, she ignored all of the initial emails from The National Lottery informing her of her win. It was only three weeks later that she opened one and discovered her amazing prize was waiting for her to claim.

The woman, Jacqui Shannon, went about her business as usual until the money came in, and she chose to purchase new cars for both her and her husband – a BMW 320 and a Mini. She also chose to use the money in order to provide a safe future for her son, setting him a saving fund up.

But what would have happened if Jacqui hadn’t checked those emails and the winner was never actually found? As noted, there is a 180-day period for winners to come forward and claim their prizes. Should this not occur though, then the winner’s entitlement to that prize is entirely lost.

The National Lottery does its best to try and get people talking about the unclaimed prize prior to the end of the 180 days. Hopefully, this will prompt anyone who has bought a ticket to check it and find out if they’re the winner. The media, including newspapers and news reels, tend to talk about such circumstances a lot. The prize details are also shared on social media, with details of the largest unclaimed prizes available on the National Lottery website. Various stunts and local celebrities are used to generate even more buzz in the unclaimed winnings, in the hope that someone will come forth with a valid winning ticket to claim them.

If it isn’t claimed within the aforementioned 180 days, then all the money, plus the interest that it has generated while it is held in trust, is sent to National Lottery-funded projects all over the United Kingdom.

Damaged Tickets

lottery ticket close upIf you believe yourself to be a winner, but you know that you have a damaged ticket or if you have lost the ticket, what happens? It’s natural for physical tickets to get snagged on things inside a bag or ripped in pockets. Additionally, it’s probably true to say that on more than one occasion someone has run a ticket through the washing machine accidentally.

Yet, even if your ticket is damaged or destroyed, you may still be able to make a valid claim to winnings. An appeal needs to be filled within 30 days of the draw date, if you haven’t been able to have the ticket scanned properly at your nearest National Lottery retailer.

In the appeal, you need to confirm the date, time and location where you purchased the ticket and which Lottery game you played. You should also confirm the date that you believe the prize was won, how many entries into the draw you purchased and how you believe the ticket was damaged. This appeal then needs to be sent through email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via post to:

Player Services Department
The National Lottery
PO Box 287
Watford
WD18 9TT

You may also be requested to send the damaged ticket to that same postal address with your appeal.

Lost or Stolen Tickets

If you do lose your purchased ticket, it’s relevant to know that the National Lottery is not obliged to pay out on such. Yet, there is a chance that appeals will be considered, as long as they are lodged within 30 days of the relevant draw. Obviously, this is not something that is possible to do through the Post Office or National Lottery retailers. You’ll need to make an appeal to the National Lottery directly. This appeal needs to contain the same information as noted above, but with details of when you believe the ticket was lost or stolen, rather than how it got damaged.

Then, your appeal will be sent to the postal address or email address mentioned before, and it will be in the hands of The National Lottery as to whether this is paid out to you or not.

Should you find a ticket for a draw that remains valid, but there is not name and address on the back of it, you need to send it along to that address mentioned above, too. A letter with your name, address and contact information should also be sent with it, and the information of where you found the ticket and when.

Can You Claim If You Find A Winning Ticket?

golden ticketIf you are lucky enough to find a lottery ticket and it is a winner then you can claim it in a shop if they amount is small enough, no questions asked.  That will only work if the original owner of the ticket does not lodge a claim, if they do and you have claimed the prize yourself it 'theft by finding' and you will have to pay back the amount plus a possible fine. 

If the prize is larger you will need to lodge a claim, this will only be successful if someone else does not come forward who can prove the ticket is theirs. If you are claiming a ticket you did not purchase you need to be upfront about this as claiming the ticket was yours could land you in trouble if caught, it is effectively fraud.  The lottery does operate a 'finders keepers' rule if the original winner does not come forward.

Can You Claim Your Winnings In Cash?

Yes, up to a certain amount.  If you win under £500 you can claim this in cash in a shop, although retailers can also pay money back to a debit card.  If you win under £50,000 you can claim this in cash from a post office, although it is unlikely they will have large cash amounts to hand and you are likely to receive either a cheque or payment to your bank/card.  For prizes over £50,000 you need to claim in person and and you will be paid through a cheque that will need to be deposited to a bank.

All online winnings are paid to bank or card and cannot be paid in cash.