What Happens with Unclaimed Lottery Tickets?

Patrycja Patrycja Knows ins and outs of Bingo, Casino & Specials Betting
Updated Updated: October 23, 2019

Imagine your lucky lottery ticket hit the jackpot guaranteeing you a million pounds.

And now imagine you lost the winning ticket. Or you completely forgot that you even had it in the first place! Losing is sad, indeed, but winning money and missing the chance of claiming it is far worse than just disappointing. 

We have created a guide in order for you to avoid such nightmares or, in worst-case scenarios, to keep a cool head when you find yourself in a similar situation.

How much time have I got to claim my lottery ticket?

Every player has 180 days from the day of the draw to claim their prize. 

Simple as that. For example, a lucky winner from the special Lotto draw on 5th September 2019 need to come forward with the ticket in hand before midnight on 2 April 2020. The rule of 180 days is strict and after this period you won’t be able to claim any prize!

How many lottery tickets go unclaimed?

You think that owners of the lucky lottery tickets run to claim their prizes a second after they find out the great news? Probably yes, but a small percentage of this group misses their chance of becoming richer. 

At the moment of writing this article, there are about 15 unclaimed lottery prizes listed by the UK National Lottery on their official website. “15 is a needle in a haystack”, one might think. It is, however, if we add up all prizes we’ll end up with quite an impressive sum.

In 2018, a huge £125.1million in Lottery prizes went unclaimed as thousands of Lotto, Euromillions and scratchcard players failed to bank their winnings. Despite a number of unclaimed prized, Camelot (the operator of the UK National Lottery) said that after it publicises how much money is left up for grabs, a number of people get in touch to claim their winnings.

The vast majority of prizes that start as unclaimed do get claimed before the deadline, whether that be on the back of publicity activity we have undertaken to raise awareness of the prize or because a ticket-holder has claimed late for whatever reason (on holiday at the time of the draw and immediately after, busy lives, habitual checking etc)”, a Camelot spokesperson said.

What happens to an unclaimed lottery ticket?

 It’s worth mentioning, that these “few” prizes shown on the list mentioned before are only those which haven’t been claimed in the last couple of months. All the earlier unclaimed winning lottery tickets are no longer shown there. Why?

 The prizes that are not claimed within 180 days (around 6 months) of the draw date go to National Lottery Projects. The charity causes run or supported by National Lottery win ownership of such tickets and use the money prize, plus all the interest it has generated while it is held in trust, to change the lives of people in need. 

The organisation supports both individuals and communities by raising, on average, over £34 million for National Lottery-funded projects every week. Since the first lottery draw in 1994, more than 560,000 projects have been funded raising more than £40 billion overall.

Can you claim lost lottery tickets?

You can try, yes! The UK National Lottery gives players a chance to claim their lost, damaged, destroyed or stolen tickets, provided that they:

  • notify the UK National Lottery about the case by 5 pm on the 30th day after the date of the relevant draw
  • download, fill in and send out via email or post a form of Lost, Stolen, Destroyed or Damaged Ticket Search to the National Lottery authorities

What information do I need to share?

The form is quite detailed but given the reason what it’s for – no wonder it requires an extremely big amount of information. Here are some things you should know before you fill in the questionnaire:

  • Name and address
  • The name and address of the shop where you purchased the ticket
  • Date and time of ticket purchase 
  • Name of the game (e.g. EuroMillions/Lotto/Thunderball)
  • Number of lines and the selected numbers (or Lucky Dip)
  • Draw date/s (e.g. every Tuesday)
  • Date of a potential winning draw
  • Explanation (e.g. what happened to the ticket)
  • If your ticket is damaged, you must also include the ticket with your letter, or attach a copy of the ticket to your email and retain the original

Once all the necessary information is provided, further investigation can take place to examine the validity of the claim. It’s extremely important to collect evidence that will prove you’re entitled to the prize, otherwise your “lucky ticket” might turn out to be nothing but a nightmare.

Online Lottery Saves You Trouble!

The possible scenario of winning money but never seeing it in real life is extremely scary but, fortunately, there are ways which can help us prevent such situations.

 If you play lotto online and you’ll be lucky enough to win – you’ll be automatically informed about it! No need to check your numbers, no trouble with lost or damaged tickets, just pure fun! 

How can lottery prizes be claimed online? 

The procedure depends on the amount of money a player wins but regardless of their winnings, it’s nothing too elaborate or complicated. They will need to:

  • confirm that the prize should be paid to the debit card registered to their National Lottery account before 11.00 pm on the last day of the claim period (for prizes are over £500 up to and including £30,000)


  • call on 0333 234 44 33 during the normal opening hours of National Lottery during the claim period to claim the prize. Prizes then will be paid by cheque (for prizes over £30,000 up to and including £50,000)

For further details regarding other prizes, such as Free Lotto Lucky Dip, non-cash prizes instalment or annuity prizes, check the official website of the UK National Lottery that will guide you step-by-step through the necessary procedures.

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