Winning the lottery is something many of us might dream of and for a lucky few, that dream actually becomes reality.
If, by a sheer stroke of luck, you manage to bag a big EuroMillions prize, such as a jackpot, there are a few processes you need to go through first before you get access to your winnings.
Smaller prizes can be claimed from retailers or affiliated Post Offices.
How long do you have to claim?
In the UK, you have 180 days from the date of the lottery draw to claim your EuroMillions prize.
Most winners will typically claim within the first few days or weeks, but there is no obligation to do it straight away – your claim will remain valid at anytime within the 180 day time frame.
Winners should ensure their ticket is kept safe until the claim process is underway, when lottery officials will conduct rigorous security checks to validate your claim.
If you do lose your ticket, it may still be possible to claim your prize, but you must make contact with the National Lottery within 30 days of the draw.
Starting the claims process
To begin the claims process, winners need to phone the National Lottery Customer Care Team on 0333 234 44 33 (if you played online), or 0333 234 50 50 (if you played in-store). Contact details can also be found on the back of your ticket.
The claims team will then ask you for specific information about yourself and your ticket, after which they will confirm on the phone that the details provided are correct and you are the winner.
A validation appointment will then be arranged at a time and place that suits you.
The validation appointment
You will need to meet with National Lottery advisors in person to be able to claim a prize of more than £50,000.
The appointment typically takes around two hours and the claims advisor will fill out all of the necessary paperwork, and answer any questions you might have.
Winners will need to provide two forms of identification, such as a passport and driving licence, as well as your signed winning ticket.
Receiving your winnings
The claims advisors will recommend that winners open a private bank account to receive their prize money. This is primarily to help protect your privacy, but also because banks that offer accounts such as this often have teams which deal specifically with lottery winners.
Once your claim has been validated and the bank account is set up, the money will be transferred within 48 hours.
The advisors will still be on hand to offer advice, but from this point on the money is yours to do with as you wish.
Do you have to make your win public?
In the UK, you can choose to make your win public or keep it anonymous. At your validation appointment you will be asked how many people you have told about your win, as this may help to make your decision about anonymity.
Winners can visit the National Lottery Publicity page to learn about the pros and cons of going public or staying private, and find out what past winners have done.
Opting for publicity will come with various media obligations that need to be fulfilled, including a winner’s ceremony, revealing your name and plans for the money.
The National Lottery provides the same level of support for winners who go public or stay private, and says that only around 10 per cent of big winners choose to announce it.
Follow-up meeting and continued support
A follow-up meeting will be scheduled several weeks after you have received your winnings, with lawyers and financial advisors on hand to make sure everything has gone smoothly.
At this point you will also be given the opportunity to make contact with other big winners, whether to ask questions about their experience or get some support from people in the same situation.
There are a few tax implications to keep in mind after your win.
While lottery winnings are not taxed in the UK, the interest on your win will be subject to income tax.
And if you choose to gift some of your money to others, they may have to pay inheritance tax if you die within seven years of sharing the money.
More information on taxes can be found on the EuroMillions website.