We sometimes place small data files on your computer. These are known as cookies. Most websites do this.

They improve things by:

  • remembering settings, so you don’t have to keep re-entering them whenever you visit a new page
  • remembering information you’ve given (eg your postcode) so you don’t need to keep entering it
  • measuring how you use the website so we can make sure it meets your needs

Our cookies aren’t used to identify you personally. They’re just here to make the site work better for you. Indeed, you can manage and/or delete these small files as you wish.

To learn more about cookies and how to manage them, visit AboutCookies.org. Or please read on to find out more about how and where we use cookies.


How we use cookies

GOV.UK uses cookies in several places – we’ve listed each of them below with more details about why we use them and how long they will last.

In most cases, we will let you know before we store a cookie on your computer by providing a message similar to this: sets a cookie.

Measuring website usage (Google Analytics)

We use Google Analytics to collect information about how people use this site. We do this to make sure it’s meeting its users’ needs and to understand how we could do it better.

Google Analytics stores information about what pages you visit, how long you are on the site, how you got here and what you click on. We do not collect or store your personal information (e.g. your name or address) so this information cannot be used to identify who you are. We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data.

The following cookies are set by Google Analytics:

Name Purpose Expires
_utma This randomly generated number is used to determine unique visitors to our site 2 years
_utmb This randomly generated number works with _utmc to calculate the average length of time users spend on our site 30 minutes
_utmc This randomly generated number works with _utmb to calculate when you close your browser when you close your browser
_utmz This is a randomly generated number and information about how the site was reached (e.g. direct or via a link, organic search or paid search) 6 months
GDS_successEvents
GDS_analyticsTokens
These cookies help us identify how people use GOV.UK so we can make the site better 4 months

You can opt out of Google Analytics cookies by visiting this page on Google.


Storing your approximate location

Some pages on this site provide you with information based on your location. So when you enter your postcode, we save your approximate location to a cookie. This means you don’t have to keep typing your postcode in, and means we’ll always point you towards services that are closest to you e.g. the nearest UK online centre.

Name Typical Content Expires
govukgeo Saves details about your location so that services which require this information are consistent 4 months

Remembering if you’ve seen our introductory message

On your first visit to parts of GOV.UK, you may be greeted by a pop-up message that welcomes you and provides information about the site. We’ll store a cookie so that your computer knows you’ve seen it and knows not to show it again (and again...).

Name Purpose Expires
seen_cookie_message Saves a message to let us know that you have seen our cookie message. 1 month
dp-tour Saves a message to let us know that you have seen our welcome message on the GDS Design Principles. 7 days

Remembering your progress when applying for a licence

When you apply for a licence using the 'apply for a licence' service, we will set a cookie to remember your progress through the forms. These cookies don't store your personal data and are deleted once you have completed the transaction.

Name Purpose Expires
licensing_session Set to remember information you have entered into a form when applying for a licence when you close your browser

Cookies from YouTube

On some parts of this site, we use YouTube to provide useful videos. YouTube sets some or all of these cookies when you visit one of these pages.

Name Purpose Expires
_use_hitbox This is a randomly generated number that identifies your browser when you close your browser
VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE Set when viewing a page with Youtube videos on it. It is set by Youtube so they can count the views of embedded Youtube videos on them. 9 months

Cookies from Directgov-branded government services

Some of the Directgov-branded government services we link to may set additional cookies.


Remembering if you’ve seen the number of departments that have moved to GOV.UK

On your first visit to the Inside Government part of GOV.UK, you may be greeted by a message about the number of departments that have moved over so far. When you dismiss the message we’ll store a cookie so that your computer knows you’ve seen it and knows not to show it again (and again...).

Name Purpose Expires
inside-gov-joining A notification of how many departments have currently been moved to GOV.UK 1 month

Remembering if you've been shown a browser upgrade prompt

On your first visit to GOV.UK, we log a cookie to know you've visited us once, then subsequently, if you're using an out-of-date browser we'll show you a prompt to remind you to upgrade to something better. We also save a cookie that lets us know you don't want to see the prompt for a while, if you dismiss it.

Name Purpose Expires
govuk_not_first_visit Saves a message to know that you've visted us once, and to show you the message next time 28 days
govuk_browser_upgrade_dismissed Saves a message to let us know you've seen and dismissed the browser upgrade prompt. 14 days