Do Scratch Cards Expire? All You Need To Know!


Scratch cards have been around since the 1990s in Britain. They involve rubbing off a thin silver foil coating using a coin or your fingernail to reveal hidden symbols or prize amounts underneath. Matching specified combinations of symbols or values means you win a prize. With expiry periods and game closures, understanding the expiration rules for scratch cards is important. We break it all down in this easy-to-understand guide.

Understanding Scratch Card Expiration

Scratch card expiration refers to the pre-defined length of time a particular scratch card remains valid and able to have any winning prizes claimed. Expiry effectively ends the game and the card’s lifecycle.


Expiration serves multiple practical purposes:

  • Allows closure once major prizes have been won
  • Prevents cards from circulating endlessly, making logistics difficult
  • Enables introduction of new scratch card games

So, expiry allows orderly conclusion rather than cards floating around indefinitely.



There is no universal expiry period across all scratch card games. But some typical time spans include:

  • Instant win scratch cards – Expire 180 days after the announced closure.
  • Lottery draw scratch cards – Often valid for up to a year.

Factors like the number and size of prizes influence duration. Games with bigger prizes often run longer by closing when the major prizes get claimed. Smaller instant win games tend to follow a standard 180-day post-closure period. Ultimately, the game duration depends on the scratch card, so check the rules for the specific game.

Identifying the Expiration Date

Since durations fluctuate across games, how do you know when a card actually expires?

First check if an expiry period is directly specified on the physical scratch card itself. If not stated, you’ll need to check online instead:

  • Visit the official website of the game provider
  • Search for the scratch card game details
  • Review rules to find any expiry period and closure process specifics

This online expiry date would override any assumptions about standard time periods. [Check the National Lottery website for game expiry details] For lottery draw scratch card games, the date of the final draw is the expiry equivalent.

National Lottery Scratch Card Game Closures


For National Lottery scratch card games, here is how closures and expiry work:

  • Sales are halted first for a game being closed
  • A game closure date is announced
  • 180 days post-closure is the final claim deadline for prizes

So for any National Lottery scratch card prizes you have – be sure to check online immediately if a closure gets announced. Then note the end date which falls 180 days later as the expiry equivalent. Meet this final cutoff to submit any winning card prize claims.

Claiming Prizes from Expired Scratch Cards


Can you still claim prizes from scratch cards that are past expiration?

Unfortunately, No. Once the defined expiry period ends, any unclaimed prizes or entries are forfeited:

  • Expired cards are void and no longer valid.
  • Trying to claim prizes post-expiry would violate the rules
  • Expired cards should, therefore, be discarded.

If you missed the expiry deadline, any legible card details could still prompt them to verify closure status. But prizes cannot be paid out from expired scratch cards.

Special Considerations for Lottery Draw Scratch Cards


Some scratch card games involve entries into lottery-style future draws rather than instant wins. For these, cards specify a certain number of draws that purchased entries remain valid for. Once the final associated draw occurs, the card then expires regardless of any absolute timeframe specified:

  • Entry validity linked to number of draws rather than fixed end date
  • Final draw outcome precedes standard expiry period kicking in
  • Claims still need submitting prior to census stages after the final draw

Check scratch card games rules for any subtle differences that apply to lottery draw variants.

Also Read: What Beats What In Poker? Poker Hand Rankings Explained

Legal and Regulatory Aspects

The UK Gambling Commission licenses and regulates all gambling in Britain. They oversee expiry provisions and durations for scratch cards and online instant win games. Rules dictate fair approaches that adequately inform players and protect consumers. As a licensing condition, timeframes cannot be unreasonable or overly restrictive around claiming.

The Commission also stipulates transparent terms and conditions. This regulatory oversight compels game providers to communicate expiry provisions clearly. Additional consumer laws supplement Gambling Commission standards regarding disclosure about card validity periods. Companies failing compliance checks risk stiff regulatory action.

Responsible gambling advocates additionally lobby for expiration flexibility, assisting players claiming legitimately won prizes in good faith after deadlines. This facilitates consumer protection against losing rightful winnings due to minor administrative delays or errors.

Make sure to carefully read all provided rules yourself too so you thoroughly understand any mandated regulatory expiry requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common scratch card expiration queries:

1) Can I claim prizes from damaged scratch cards?

Unfortunately not. Damaged or tampered cards are invalidated.

2) What if I never received my mailed prize payment before expiry?

Contact the provider immediately if payment expected for a winning claim never arrived prior to game closure.

3) Where do funds from unclaimed expired prizes go?

Typically to good causes or future prize funds rather than the provider. Consult gambling support organizations if needing additional advice about expiration issues.


While scratching off those silver panels remains exciting, make sure you understand the expiry requirements before playing any scratch card game. Check rules both on cards and online sources to know final valid claim deadlines for any prizes. This avoids disappointment from expired cards with missed deadlines. Stay up to date on draw outcomes and any closure announcements. Then set reminders to claim winnings in time before expiry ends the game and any unclaimed prizes!

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