GOV.UK puts small files (known as ‘cookies’) onto your computer to collect information about how you browse the site.

Cookies are used to:

  • measure how you use the website so it can be updated and improved based on your needs
  • remember the notifications you’ve seen so that we don’t show them to you again
  • remember you while you’re changing your GOV.UK email subscriptions

Find out more about how to manage cookies.

How cookies are used on GOV.UK

Email subscriptions

We use a cookie to remember you while you’re changing your email subscriptions. The cookie is deleted when you close your browser.

Name Purpose Expires
email-alert-frontend_session This remembers you as you change your email subscriptions When you close your browser

Measuring website usage (Google Analytics)

We use Google Analytics software (Universal Analytics) to collect information about how you use GOV.UK. We do this to help make sure the site is meeting the needs of its users and to help us make improvements, for example improving site search.

Google Analytics stores information about:

  • the pages you visit on GOV.UK
  • how long you spend on each GOV.UK page
  • how you got to the site
  • what you click on while you’re visiting the site

We do not collect or store your personal information (for example your name or address) so this information can’t be used to identify who you are.

We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data.

Google Analytics sets the following cookies.

Name Purpose Expires
_ga This helps us count how many people visit GOV.UK by tracking if you’ve visited before 2 years
_gid This helps us count how many people visit GOV.UK by tracking if you’ve visited before 24 hours
_gat Used to manage the rate at which page view requests are made 10 minutes

GOV.UK events

Name Purpose Expires
analytics_next_page_call This lets us know the next page you visit on GOV.UK, so we can make journeys better When you close your browser
govuk_contact_referrer This lets us know the last page you visited before using the contact GOV.UK form 1 day

JavaScript detection

We measure how many people visiting GOV.UK are using JavaScript. We’re re-running a test we first used in 2013.

Name Purpose Expires
JS-Detection This tells us if you are browsing GOV.UK while running JavaScript 1 year

Our introductory message

You may see a pop-up welcome message when you first visit GOV.UK. We’ll store a cookie so that your computer knows you’ve seen it and knows not to show it again.

Name Purpose Expires
seen_cookie_message Saves a message to let us know that you’ve seen our cookie message 1 month

Messages across GOV.UK

We might display a message on all GOV.UK pages to tell you about an important event or situation. We’ll save a cookie that will let us know how many times you’ve seen it, or if you’ve dismissed it.

Name Purpose Expires
global_bar_seen Remembers the number of times you’ve seen the message, or if you’ve dismissed it 12 weeks

Making secure connections to websites

Your browser uses cookies to make secure connections to websites with a ‘https’ URL. There are different versions for different levels of security.

Name Purpose Expires
TLSVersion Tells us the highest version of TLS your browser uses so we can decide which versions to keep supporting When you close your browser

Your progress when applying for a licence

When you apply for a licence using the ‘apply for a licence’ service, we’ll set a cookie to remember your progress through the forms. These cookies do not store your personal data and are deleted once you’ve completed the transaction.

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

YouTube videos

We use YouTube to provide videos on some pages of the site. YouTube sets 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 Lets Youtube count the views of embedded Youtube videos 9 months

Government services

Most services we link to are run by different government departments, for example HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or the Home Office. These services may set additional cookies and, if so, will have their own cookies policy.

Browser upgrade prompt

We log a cookie the first time you visit GOV.UK to let us know you’ve visited once.

If you’re using an out-of-date browser the next time you visit, we’ll show you a message suggesting you upgrade.

We’ll also save a cookie that lets us know you do not want to see the prompt if you dismiss it.

Name Purpose Expires
govuk_not_first_visit Stops us prompting you to upgrade an out-of-date browser until after your first visit 28 days
govuk_browser_upgrade_dismissed Saves a message to let us know you’ve seen and dismissed the browser upgrade prompt 28 days

Our performance survey

We select some users to take part in a performance survey. If you take part, or dismiss the survey, we’ll save a cookie that lets us know you’ve seen the message so that we do not show it to you again.

Name Purpose Expires
govuk_takenUserSatisfactionSurvey Saves a message to remember if you’ve taken the survey or dismissed it 4 months

We use SmartSurvey to collect responses to the survey. If you take part, SmartSurvey will save extra cookies to your computer to track your progress through it.

Name Purpose
_ga, _gat_UA-31798632-30, _gid We use SmartSurvey for the performance survey on GOV.UK. For more information, please see the SmartSurvey privacy information

Multivariate testing

We sometimes test different versions of pages with different users to see which work better. We’ll save a cookie so that you consistently see the same version when browsing GOV.UK.

Name Purpose Expires
ABTest-Example Checks A/B testing works 1 day
ABTest-TopicPagesTest Tests navigation design pattern for taxonomy topic pages 2 weeks
ABTest-ViewDrivingLicence Tests using GOV.UK Verify as the primary method of establishing identity on the service to view or share your driving licence information 3 days
ABTest-RelatedLinksAATest Checks the metrics we use for A/B tests. We want to make sure a future test to improve related links will be statistically accurate 4 weeks
ABTest-RelatedLinksABTest1 Tests an automatically generated set of related links to help us work out if they make it easier for people to find the page they need 4 weeks

HMRC web chat

HMRC uses web chat to help you with problems you might have with their content and services.

Name Purpose Expires
JSESSIONID Set to remember information you’ve entered during a web chat When you close your browser
egofrreofferignore, egofrreofferaccept, egofrreofferreject, egofrnoreoffer, egofrcountforsession, egofroffersbeingshown, egofrservernotready, egofrreferrer, egofrsessionstarttime Set to track information about how you interact with web chat When you close your browser
Last updated 24 May 2018