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GOV.UK Verify

GOV.UK Verify support: assisting users in their journey

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'Users First' photograph

“Why doesn’t GOV.UK Verify work for me?”, “How can I be sure the verification process is secure?”, “Why is this app I’ve downloaded not working?”. These are some examples of typical questions our users have asked the GOV.UK Verify user support team.

This is the first in a series of posts from the user support team where we’ll talk about the issues our users have experienced, how we respond to these queries, and how we measure user feedback and the impact of the support given.

This post will give you an insight into what happens as soon as any user clicks ‘send message’ in their GOV.UK Verify feedback form.

What we do and how we do it

A typical day for a user support specialist starts at 8:00am. The first thing we do is to carry out a quick assessment of how many feedback requests (also known as ‘tickets’) we’ve received overnight. We usually review and respond to tickets in date order. If an urgent issue has been identified, for example a technical outage, then this will be prioritised.

GOV.UK Verify’s user journey has been designed to be as straightforward as possible and its always being iterated and improved. However, sometimes users do experience difficulties and one of the things we do is explain to them how to navigate their way around GOV.UK Verify. One of the most common reasons why users come to us is because they haven’t arrived at their preferred destination - the service on GOV.UK they are trying to access.

Whatever reason a user comes to GOV.UK Verify user support, we always strive to offer timely and appropriate resolutions to their problems. We never send users away empty-handed.

Hugh Quigley (User Support Manager)

When users unknowingly takes a wrong turn on their journey or are unable to interpret a warning sign en route, they turn to the user support team for help. In addition to providing directions, the user support team helps users who have encountered a ‘breakdown’ in their journeys by offering assistance to get them to their destination (or government service).

Working out how best to assist our varied demographic of users, ranging from the tech-savvy to those less confident online, can sometimes be a complex process.

In fact, it’s not always just our team that is needed to help answer user queries. We work closely with the connected services they’re trying to use, and the certified company the user has chosen to verify their identity with.

The user support team typically interacts with users, the connected services, and certified companies through this feedback journey:

  1. The user sends feedback to GOV.UK Verify user support
  2. Their feedback is analysed
  3. Input is sought from the certified company or connected service
  4. A solution is offered to the user

An image showing the relationship between the user support team, users, certified companies and a connected government service

It’s a joint effort to reach the best outcome. Throughout this process, we maintain our users’ privacy and ensure that we adhere to the Identity Assurance Principles.

The user is always at the heart of what we do

To capture real opinions and experiences of our users, in August 2016 we introduced a feedback survey that is sent after an issue has been resolved. Hearing what you have to say is integral to our development, as it allows us to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of our service. After all, the user is at the heart of GOV.UK Verify’s ongoing improvement.

Here’s a sample of some of the real user feedback quotes we’ve received:

Why do I need Verify when I have a government gateway id already?

Please note that I’m very deaf so I can’t make use of telephone numbers. I need access via the internet

I’m not resident in the UK. I want to be able to register to get online access of my statement for future pension

This verify website is excellent. I sorted it all out in a few minutes and accessed my account straight away

Most user feedback comes under an umbrella of frequently asked questions. However, every user who contacts the team has their own individual needs and we use our technical expertise to offer tailored solutions, rather than issue generic responses.

A picture of a presentation slide saying "Putting users at the heart of everything we do"

To anyone else, it may sound disheartening to see tickets reporting users being unable to use or having difficulties with GOV.UK Verify. But to us, it demonstrates that GOV.UK Verify is expanding and being used by different demographics and, as we’ve improved GOV.UK Verify, it’s been rewarding to see changes in the type of feedback we receive. Indeed, we get positive comments too, with users contacting us to say they had no trouble using the service and wanted to register their satisfaction.

Headline metrics

We believe you cannot manage what you cannot measure. That is why we use our statistics to monitor, control and manage our workflow. From the information at our disposal, we can project how many future users will visit GOV.UK Verify, which in turn will allow us to estimate user traffic to user support.

For instance, in July 2016 693 users came to user support, compared with 743 in June. That’s a decrease of 7.21%. One explanation for this decrease is that GOV.UK Verify as a product is evolving and users are able to use it first time without the need to seek help from user support.

More information on our service dashboard shows a link between the number of successful visitors to GOV.UK Verify and the volume of feedback received by user support.

Contact the team

You can find out more about the user support team, and the hours we work and how to contact us in this blog post.

We welcome comments and suggestions for improvements and would love to hear how GOV.UK Verify has worked for you. Our objective is to not just make GOV.UK Verify better, but to empower our users, and make their interaction with government secure and straightforward.

To keep up to date, subscribe to the GOV.UK Verify blog to get email alerts whenever we publish a new blogpost.

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  1. Comment by Tim posted on

    Hi. Thanks for this post - metrics sort of links in to an issue we are facing, and I wonder if you are aware of any research or if you have any direct experience of how any GOV.UK-hosted services handle the situation whereby a user fails the Verify process? If, like the public organisation for whom I work, you have no (bricks and mortar) customer-facing channel, how can you solve the user verification problem? Face-to-face verification via, say, the Post Office entails a cost to either user or organisation - and, particularly when there are no metrics to differentiate between whether a user failed the Verify process, or instead dropped out due to usability issues (or even by personal choice) this is a difficult call. Have any organisations come up with a way round this?

    • Replies to Tim>

      Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on

      Hi Tim

      Many thanks for your comment and questions.

      In terms of how users who are unable to be verified through GOV.UK Verify can still access the government service they're trying to use, each service available via GOV.UK Verify has an alternative way to access the service. Nobody is excluded from a service if they can’t be verified by GOV.UK Verify. Other channels will be available for people who are not able to use digital services, including if they are not able to verify their identity entirely digitally. Information is also given to users via the Verify hub if they go through the journey and find they cannot be verified.

      Also, it's true that it's difficult to identify the precise reasons why users fail. We do a lot of work in this area, including data analysis, user research (both simulated and 'live' in a real context) and analysing user feedback. We also introduce changes using A/B testing, which gives us strong evidence that a change we have made has had the desired effect, by comparing its performance to a control group.

  2. Comment by Virginia Stroud posted on

    I need to access my self assessment account for following reasons look back on last year's assessment, submit this year's assessment and access mail received from hmrc. I have been trying for 3 months to get into my account. How do I verify myself if all of the companies that do verification requests a uk passport, drivers licence of which neither I havery as I am not a uk resident? Please help!

    • Replies to Virginia Stroud>

      Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on

      I am sorry that you experienced issues using the service.

      There will continue to be other ways for people to access services if we’re not able to verify their identity through GOV.UK Verify.

      Overseas residents with non-UK addresses may still be able to sign up and enrol for HMRC Online services. When you enrol you'll have to enter specific HMRC reference information that identifies you or your organisation. You won't have to enter a UK postcode, unless you are registering (signing up) as a Corporation Tax agent or a PAYE employer.

      Once you've enrolled to use the online service you will have to wait for a confirmation letter containing an Activation Code before you can use the service. This can take up to 21 days to reach you.

      Please copy and paste the below link into your browser to start the registration process

      GOV.UK Verify is being constantly improved and developed based on user feedback. For example, one of the certified companies introduced a new method of verification meaning that if you have a bank account and a credit or debit card, you can now verify your identity without either a passport or driving licence. Additionally, GOV.UK Verify may still be able to verify you with a non-UK passport if you have a UK address.

  3. Comment by Adam roberts posted on

    I have entered my details wrong a number of times I now know my correct details but it says unable to verify me before asking any questions now , is there a time limit on it ? Will I be able to try again soon ? Thanks

    • Replies to Adam roberts>

      Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on

      Hi Adam

      I'm sorry to hear you've been having trouble. As you've entered your details incorrectly several times, a solution could be to go back through the GOV.UK Verify registration process again and change the certified company you originally tried to verify with.

  4. Comment by t watson posted on

    just going round in circles

    • Replies to t watson>

      Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on


      I'm sorry to hear you've been having trouble. Can you roughly please let me know what the issue is (without providing any personal details) and I can try to help?

  5. Comment by tevin posted on

    dont have a p60 or a valid passport so i cant verify my government gate

    • Replies to tevin>

      Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on

      Hi Tevin,

      Have you tried using GOV.UK Verify? GOV.UK Verify is an alternative way to Government Gateway to prove who you are online so you can access digital services securely and safely and at your convenience and without having to use postal or face-to-face services.

      If you have a bank account and a credit or debit card, you may be able to verify your identity without either a passport or driving licence with GOV.UK Verify.

      If you return to the service, go back through the GOV.UK Verify path and select 'no' when asked if you have a driving licence or passport, you should be able to choose a certified company that may be able to verify you. If you choose that company, you will be provided with a list of requirements needed for them to verify you and you should be able to proceed from there.

      If you'd like to use GOV.UK Verify, simply go back to the service you were trying to use and choose to sign in using GOV.UK Verify.

  6. Comment by Janice Platt posted on

    I have been trying unsuccessfully to complete my self assessment. Usually, the online option is great, but now I cannot access it because I do not have a passport and hold an old paper driving licence, rather than a photo card. I tried Verify and thought that I could use it- but no - non photo card driving licences are not accepted (I spoke to Experian and they confirmed this) How do I now file my self assessment?

    • Replies to Janice Platt>

      Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on

      Hi Janice,

      I'm sorry that we cannot currently accept paper driving licences, this is due to the fact that they are held on an older separate database at the moment. We are working on providing alternatives for this issue.

      GOV.UK Verify is a new service that will allow people to verify their identity entirely digitally and use that to access an increasing range of services. GOV.UK Verify is constantly being developed and improved based on feedback from people who use it. We’re not able to verify everyone yet using GOV.UK Verify - we’re working to make it possible for people to use other evidence instead of UK passports and British photo card driving licences.

      There are always other ways to access services so if GOV.UK Verify doesn't work for you, please return to the service you were trying to access and use one of the other available ways to access it.

      You can also see this page for further assistance:

  7. Comment by Janice posted on

    I have submitted my self assessment and now want to look at my tax owed. I have put all the right details in and the Barclays Identity code they send to my mobile but it is not connecting me. I have been trying off and on all day and as I go away on the 23rd for several weeks I want to clear this up before I leave.