Can You Claim a Win From a Damaged Lottery Ticket or Scratch Card?

Damaged scratch card

Damaged scratch cardLottery tickets and scratch cards offer the thrill of potentially winning a huge sum of money, which is something that few people are likely to resist. However, what happens if you have a winning ticket that has been damaged? Can you still claim your prize? In the United Kingdom, there are official guidelines and procedures in place to address such situations. The good news is that you will be able to claim winnings from a damaged lottery ticket or scratch card, but there are also some limitations when it comes to claiming your winnings that you need to know about.

Whilst winning a massive prize on the lottery, whether that be on the likes of the EuroMillions, Lotto or one of the myriad of scratch cards offered by the company, would be a dream, it could quickly turn into a nightmare if you went to claim the money only to realise that the ticket or card was badly damaged. Doubtless you would like to know what you can do to still claim your winnings in such a situation, as well as how to protect yourself against it even happening in the first place. You can do both, with the latter helping to prevent the former from being relevant.

Understanding the Different Levels of Damage

Damaged lotto & scratch cards

Before delving into the specifics, it is important to recognise that there can be varying degrees of damage to a lottery ticket or scratch card. Damage may range from minor tears or smudges to significant mutilation, where the ticket’s important details become unreadable. The severity of the damage can influence the options available for claiming a prize. There are some official guidelines in place for when it comes to claiming a prize on a damaged lottery tickets, as laid out by the UK’s National Lottery operator, Camelot. It provides clear guidance for claiming prizes from damaged tickets.

According to their policy, players must present a ticket that is sufficiently intact to allow for the verification of key information, which includes the likes of the barcode, the serial number or the game details. The readability of these elements is crucial in determining the validity of the ticket. In other words, if your ticket is still readable enough for the National Lottery to identify some of those key factors then the likelihood is that you’ll still be able to make a claim. If it is too damaged, however, then you’re going to be up against it when it comes to claiming your prize.

Mildly Damaged Tickets

For tickets with only minor damage, such as tears or smudges, it is usually possible to claim the prize as long as the essential information remains intact and legible. In such cases, players are advised to contact the National Lottery’s customer service helpline or visit an authorised retailer to seek guidance on the next steps for claiming their winnings. Retailers and lottery officials can examine the ticket and provide assistance based on the extent of the damage. The reality is that you’re probably going to know whether the damage to your ticket is too bad for it to be claimed.

There will be a lot of tickets that have a tear or a rip in them, perhaps because you thought that it wasn’t a winner and decided to rip it up accordingly. If you put these back together and they show the information that the National Lottery needs in order to be able to verify the ticket then there is still a good chance that you’ll be able to claim your prize. That may even be the case should you lose some of the ticket, as long as the bits that you lose aren’t those with that vital information on to support you claim that the ticket really is yours, depending on how the rest of the ticket looks.

Moderately Damaged Tickets

When a ticket is moderately damaged, such as having significant tears or wear, but key details are still visible, players may need to provide additional evidence to support their claim. This could include presenting the ticket alongside other forms of identification, such as a photo ID or proof of purchase, to establish ownership and prove that the ticket is legitimate. The decision to accept such claims is at the discretion of the National Lottery operator, who will assess the evidence provided. In essence, you need to be able to show that the ticket is real and is yours.

We will look at other evidence you can look to provide a little later, focusing solely on the ticket itself here. Moderate damage could be a cross between mild damage and severe damage. You might have ripped it up, for example, but rather than being able to piece it all back together to look like the ticket as it was before, you have lost some bits or the information is torn through in such a way that it is difficult to read. As long as there is a chance, however vague, that you can show the ticket to be a winning one then it gives the National Lottery’s investigators something to work with.

Severely Damaged Tickets

In cases where a ticket is severely damaged, to the extent that critical information cannot be retrieved, claiming the prize associated with it becomes considerably more challenging. Lottery tickets and scratch cards are considered bearer instruments, which means that whoever possesses the physical ticket is presumed to be the rightful owner. Without the ability to verify essential details, it becomes nearly impossible to claim a prize from a severely damaged ticket. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, but it does mean that you should probably expect the worst.

There are any number of reasons as to why a ticket might become severely damaged. Perhaps you left it in your pocket and put your jeans or trousers into the wash, for example. Maybe it was inside your wallet that fell into the toilet or onto a fire. You could have any number of issues surrounding the lottery ticket that led to it being in the state that it is in, but your main hope of being able to claim a prize from a severely damaged lottery ticket or scratch card lies in the hope that there is enough of the identifiable information on there still for the organisers of the lottery to work with.

Preventing Damage to Lottery Tickets

Closed black safe

It sounds relatively simple, but in order to avoid potential issues with damaged tickets, it is crucial to handle them with care. If you can keep your ticket in good condition then that is obviously the best possible solution when it comes to being able to claim your prize without anything getting in your way. In order to do this, there are several things that you can do, with the first being to store tickets in a safe and secure place. If you have a literal safe, that is always going to be the best place to put your lottery tickets in order to ensure that they remain in excellent condition.

Whilst a lottery ticket or scratch card is just a piece of paper or cardboard when you buy it, it could represent millions of pounds. If you had millions of pounds then it is unlikely that you would carry it around with you in your wallet or put it in a draw in the kitchen. Treating a lottery ticket as if it is already a winner will put you in a position where you can be sure that it will be well-looked after, albeit it you don’t want to be getting too carried away with things on that front.

You should avoid exposing tickets to extreme heat, moisture or direct sunlight, given the ways in which all of these things can have an effect on your ticket. Anything that is likely to make it difficult for the information on the ticket or scratch card to be read is the kind of thing that you’ll want to steer clear of. With this in mind, you should look to handle tickets gently to prevent tears or smudges. Picking a ticket up with greasy hands, for example, runs the risk of rubbing the information off the ticket and that would cause you all sorts of problems when you try to claim the prize.

Getting Supporting Evidence for Claims

Regardless of the extent of the damage done to the ticket, providing additional evidence to support your claim that it is yours and it is a winner becomes a crucial factor. Alongside the damaged ticket, you may need to gather supporting documentation, such as proof of purchase.


If you can, retain receipts or any sort of transaction records that validate the ticket’s acquisition from an authorised retailer. If you can show that you definitely bought a lottery ticket and can show when and where it was acquired, that can be used by the National Lottery to confirm your claim.


It is helpful to ensure that you have any relevant identifying information when you’re looking to make a claim with a damaged ticket. You can prepare identification documents to establish your identity and eligibility to claim the prize. If other people were present when the damage occurred, their statements or testimonies can help strengthen your case. Perhaps the most crucial thing of all might be if there is footage of the damage occurring, if it happened in a store or public place. You can check if any surveillance footage managed to capture the incident. This evidence can provide further validation of your claim.

Sign the Back

One thing that the National Lottery makes room for but a lot of people don’t do is to sign the back of the ticket upon purchasing it. This looks to establish ownership and, quite literally, put your name on the ticket. If your were to lose your ticket and someone else picked it up, there is nothing to stop them from claiming that it was theirs the whole time; unless you have put your signature on the back of it the moment you bought it. This would make it an awful lot more difficult for someone to suggest that it is theirs and that you don’t have a claim to it.

Whilst a signature is likely to get damaged along with the rest of the ticket, you would at least be able to point out that it is definitely yours if there is some evidence of the signature in a visible state. With damaged tickets, you not only have to prove that it was a winning one but also that it was yours, which is why signing it can be a big step in the right direction towards doing the latter. Yes, you’re still likely to struggle to be able to show the National Lottery or other operator that it was a winner just because you signed it, but it might take the stress out of one part of the process.

Play Online

Dream Big, Play Small National Lottery

Believe it or not, the vast majority of lottery providers actually want you to be able to claim your prize. In most instances, there are systems in place to mean that unclaimed prizes go to good causes, such as associated charities, so there is no benefit to be had for a company to stop you from claiming what is rightfully yours. Even so, there are some situations in which there is nothing that can be done to help you in your claim that a damaged lottery ticket or scratch card is actually yours and is definitely a winner, no matter how hard you try or how much evidence you provide.

A sure-fire way of stopping yourself from getting into such a situation is by playing the lottery online. This is possible with nearly all lottery providers and is definitely the case with the National Lottery. You can play all of their games online, including being able to play Instant Win games, which are essentially the same as scratch cards. Bar losing your login details, there is nothing that can happen to your ticket to mean that it is damaged or lost, whilst you stand just as much of a chance of winning a prize as the people that buy a physical ticket, meaning it is a win-win situation.

Author: Willie Rodriguez