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How do you get paid from lottery UK?

Winning the lottery is an exciting event that can change your life in an instant. With a jackpot that can be worth millions of pounds, it’s no wonder lottery games like Euromillions and Lotto are so popular in the UK. But what happens after you win? How long does it take to get your money, and how much tax will you need to pay on your windfall? This guide explains the ins and outs of getting paid out for a big lottery win in the UK.

How long does it take to get paid if you win the lottery in the UK?

If you are lucky enough to have a winning ticket, the time it takes to get your prize money can vary depending on several factors:

  • Which lottery you played – National Lottery draws are typically faster than other lotteries
  • The size of your win – Bigger prizes may take longer to validate and process
  • How you claim your prize – Online claims are often faster than postal claims
  • Whether you take the lump sum or annuity – Annuity payments are spread out over many years

For National Lottery games like Lotto and Euromillions, you will generally receive your money within 2-3 weeks if claiming a small/medium prize under £50,000. Larger payouts over this amount take 4-5 weeks to process. You must claim within 180 days or lose your prize.

Other UK lotteries like HealthLottery can take over 90 days to get paid out. Always check the individual lottery’s rules on how long prize claims take.

Claiming online vs postal claims

Claiming your lottery prize online, via the official app or website, is always faster than doing a postal claim. Online claims are usually processed instantly or within a few days, while postal claims can take weeks to be received and validated before payment.

However, some prizes will require you to make a postal claim, including very large National Lottery prizes over £50,000. The lottery will specify if you need to claim in person or by post. Leaving an online claim until the last minute could mean you miss the 180 day deadline if issues then arise with your postal claim.

Taking the lump sum vs annuity payments

With very large jackpot wins, you may get a choice between taking a single lump sum or spreading the win over annual annuity payments for 30 years. Opting for the full lump sum means you get your money faster, often within 2-3 weeks. Annuity payments can take 2 months to begin and then continue annually.

The downside is that lump sums are subject to a larger tax deduction, whereas annual annuity amounts fall into lower tax bands. See the tax section below for further details.

Can you remain anonymous when claiming a UK lottery prize?

Remaining anonymous when you win a major lottery prize is not possible in the UK. Unlike some other countries, lottery players in the UK cannot shield their identity.

Camelot, which operates the National Lottery and Euromillions, states in its rules that “the name, town and amount won may need to be released to the media to help prevent fraud.” This applies to any games or prizes over £50,000.

For very large lottery wins that generate huge media interest, Camelot may accommodate a publicity delay of a few days or weeks so you can get your affairs in order. But your name and hometown will still be released.

Why anonymity is not allowed

There are several important reasons why anonymity is not permitted for UK lottery winners:

  • Prevents fraudulent activity – Ensures all wins are legitimate
  • Upholds transparency – Maintains public trust in the lottery
  • Encourages participation – Promotes sales of lottery tickets
  • Adheres to licensing conditions – Identity details must be verified

Trying to claim a lottery prize anonymously would immediately invalidate your ticket and prevent any payout. So while a sudden wealth boost may come with unwanted attention, your identity will have to be revealed.

How long do you have to claim a lottery prize?

To ensure you receive your lottery winnings, you must claim your prize within the specified timeframe. For National Lottery games, players have 180 days from the date of the draw to make a claim. Here are the key time limits:

  • UK National Lottery – 180 days to claim
  • Euromillions – 180 days to claim
  • EuroMillions HotPicks – 180 days to claim
  • Thunderball – 180 days to claim
  • Set For Life – 180 days to claim
  • HealthLottery – 90 days to claim

These deadlines also apply if buying National Lottery tickets online via the website or official app. Note that the 180 days starts from the date of the draw, not from when you check your ticket.

For prizes claimed by post, the claim is valid as long as it was postmarked within the time limit. If you miss the deadline, your unclaimed prize money is distributed to other lottery projects and good causes.

Checking online if you’ve won

To ensure a prize isn’t missed, it’s always best to check lottery tickets online via the official app/website rather than wait until watching a draw on TV. This allows prizes to be claimed quickly within the deadline if any winnings are found.

If buying online, your account will automatically flag any winning tickets after a draw anyway. But even for paper tickets, scanning them online means you’ll get an instant notification if you are due any money.

How are lottery prizes paid out in the UK?

Payment methods for lottery prizes in the UK include:

  • Cheque – Cheques can be posted for minor prizes under £500. Over this amount collection is required.
  • Bank Transfer – Direct transfer into your nominated bank account.
  • Claim in person – Collecting winnings directly from designated regional centres.

Prizes up to £500 can be claimed online and paid into your bank account or sent as a cheque without visiting. Larger sums require collection from a regional lottery claims centre. Payment method may also depend on how you claimed – online or postal claims have different limits.

Annuity prizes will be paid annually on the anniversary date of your win directly into your chosen bank account.

Tax and large payouts

If claiming a jackpot or large win requiring you to attend in person, you may need to have your identification validated first. Large payouts may take 4-5 weeks to process even after attending the claims office.

Tax deductions will also be made before you receive your full prize money – see below for further details.

Do you have to pay tax on lottery wins in the UK?

Like other forms of gambling and betting, lottery winnings in the UK are subject to tax based on their value. Small prizes have no deductions, but larger amounts have tax withheld before you receive your final payout.

Here is an overview of UK lottery tax rules:

Prize Value Tax Deduction
£0 – £500 No tax
£501 – £50,000 5% tax
Over £50,000 20% tax

So for example, a £100,000 lottery prize would have £15,000 tax withheld, leaving you with £85,000 in winnings. The highest rate of 20% applies to the part of your prize that falls into each band – not the full amount.

One way to reduce the tax impact is to take an annuity rather than lump sum for very large wins. Annuity payments place you into lower tax bands each year.

Claiming prizes on behalf of a syndicate

If you play the lottery as part of a syndicate, a single member normally claims on behalf of the group then distributes the winnings. This still counts as one prize, so the tax rules apply to the full amount rather than split amounts.

Make sure you have a syndicate agreement in place when playing to avoid any disputes later on how to divide the money if you win.

Do lottery wins affect benefits in the UK?

Coming into a sudden windfall from a lottery win can impact any means-tested welfare benefits you currently claim. This includes support like:

  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Council Tax Reduction

Most means-tested benefits have capital cut-off limits between £6,000 to £16,000. If your total capital including savings exceeds these thresholds due to a lottery prize, your benefits will be reduced or halted.

Reporting lottery wins

By law, all gambling winnings must be reported to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if claiming benefits. Failing to report a lottery win is benefit fraud.

The DWP will recalculate your entitlements based on your new capital amount. Annuity wins may be treated as income and reduce your benefits each year.

Any deliberate attempt to conceal a lottery win from the benefits office could lead to prosecution and overpayment recovery.

What are the odds of winning the lottery in the UK?

The chances of winning a top prize in the UK National Lottery draws are extremely long odds, with millions of possible number combinations. Here are the odds for the major games:

Lottery Game Odds of Jackpot Win
Lotto 1 in 45,057,474
Euromillions 1 in 139,838,160
Set For Life 1 in 15,339,390
Thunderball 1 in 8,060,598

For the flagship Lotto game, the odds of matching just three numbers is around 1 in 97, compared to over 45 million to one of getting all six. The more numbers drawn each week, the longer the odds become.

In Euromillions with two extra balls, the jackpot odds extend to almost 140 million to one. Set For Life has the best odds of the major games, but even then you have a 1 in 15 million chance of becoming a lifetime millionaire.

Statistically, your best chance is to win smaller fixed prizes or to match 2-3 numbers. But the appeal still remains of that elusive million pound jackpot, however slim the odds.

Can lottery prizes be inherited?

If you win a major lottery prize but pass away before receiving your winnings, the right to collect the money forms part of your estate. This means lottery prizes in the UK can be inherited by your beneficiaries if you die.

Rules were changed in 2009 to allow lottery wins under £5,000 to be paid directly to an estate without needing probate confirmation. Larger amounts still require proper estate administration to claim.

Some key considerations for inheriting lottery prizes include:

  • Taxes – Inheritance tax may apply on lottery wins over a certain threshold
  • Probate – Required for larger lottery prizes to authorise administrators
  • Deadline – Estates still bound by 180 day claim deadline
  • Disputes – Competing claims if you die without a will

To avoid any uncertainty, it’s advisable to create a will detailing who should inherit your assets, including any lottery prizes. Your beneficiaries can then rightfully claim according to your wishes if you win big but pass away before receiving the money.

What happens if you lose a winning lottery ticket?

Losing a winning lottery ticket in the UK invalidates any claim you had to the prize. Without the original ticket as proof of purchase and numbers played, National Lottery rules mean the prize cannot be paid out.

Unfortunately there is no option to provide alternate evidence or have your winnings reinstated if you lose or destroy your ticket. All lottery entries are bearer tickets – meaning the physical ticket itself is the entitlement to any prize.

Ways players might lose their ticket include:

  • Misplacing paper tickets
  • Forgetting to produce ticket when claiming
  • Destroying tickets by accident
  • Theft of wallet/purse containing ticket
  • Technical glitches for online tickets

To avoid losing a winning ticket, here are some tips:

  1. Sign or put your name on the back of paper tickets
  2. Take a clear photo or photocopy as a backup
  3. Store tickets securely until the draw
  4. Claim prizes as soon as possible after checking
  5. Play online so prizes are tracked on your account

Your ticket literally is your lottery fortune, so look after it and avoid the heartache of losing your winnings!

What are the biggest UK lottery wins?

The UK National Lottery has created thousands of millionaires and multimillionaires since launching in 1994. Here are five of the biggest Lottery winners so far:

Winner Prize
Colin and Chris Weir, Largs, Scotland £161 million (Euromillions, 2011)
Adrian and Gillian Bayford, Suffolk £148 million (Euromillions, 2012)
Anonymous, UK £123 million (Euromillions, 2019)
Patrick and Frances Connolly, Northern Ireland £114.9 million (Euromillions, 2019)
An anonymous UK ticket holder £113 million (Euromillions, 2010)

Scotland’s Weirs hold the UK record, winning over £161 million in July 2011. Just 15 weeks later, Adrian Bayford from Suffolk scooped nearly £148 million.

The largest solo winner is an anonymous UK ticket holder who banked the entire £123 million Euromillions jackpot themselves in 2019. With multimillion pound prizes still up for grabs, more huge National Lottery winners could soon enter the record books.


Winning a life-changing lottery prize takes more than just luck – you also need patience to collect your millions. While getting paid can take 2-5 weeks for major National Lottery wins, it’s always worth going through the claims process!

Be sure to keep your ticket safe, allow time for your payout, budget for tax deductions and consider how the money could impact any benefits. With sound financial planning, your lottery millions can become an amazing fortune. Just don’t lose that ticket before claiming the prize!