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

GOV.UK cookies aren’t used to identify you personally.

You’ll normally see a message on the site before we store a cookie on your computer.

Find out more about how to manage cookies.

How cookies are used on GOV.UK

Measuring website usage (Google Analytics)

We use Google Analytics software 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, eg 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 don’t collect or store your personal information (eg your name or address) so this information can’t be used to identify who you are.

We don’t allow Google to use or share our analytics data.

Google Analytics sets the following cookies:

Universal Analytics

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

Google Analytics

Name Purpose Expires
_utma Like _ga, this lets us know if you’ve visited before, so we can count how many of our visitors are new to GOV.UK or to a certain page 2 years
_utmb This works with _utmc to calculate the average length of time you spend on GOV.UK 30 minutes
_utmc This works with _utmb to calculate when you close your browser when you close your browser
_utmz This tells us how you reached GOV.UK (eg from another website or a search engine) 6 months

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

You can opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

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

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 don’t 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, eg 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 don’t 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 don’t 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 SurveyMonkey to collect responses to the survey. If you take part, SurveyMonkey will save extra cookies to your computer to track your progress through it.

Name Purpose
mbox, SSOE, TS5159a2 and TSd0b041, ep201, ep202, utma, utmc and utmz We use Survey Monkey for the performance survey on GOV.UK. For more information, please see Survey Monkey 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
multivariatetest_cohort_topics_menu_text Remember which version of the page you were shown 1 month