Winning lottery tickets are never valid for an indefinite period of time. Instead, there is almost always a deadline by which any prize needs to be claimed, and in many cases the deadline is no more than 180 days (roughly six months) after the lottery draw. Any player who fails to claim their prize before this deadline will lose all rights to that prize.
All lottery games require players to check their numbers and to make a claim for any prize they have won within a certain amount of time – often within 180 days of the lottery draw taking place. If a player fails to claim any prize they are due before the stated deadline, their prize is forfeited, and the money usually goes to a general fund to support good causes.
Full instructions on how to claim a lottery prize are often provided on the reverse side of the lottery ticket itself. If this is not the case then the lottery retailer will normally be able to provide you with a copy of the rules governing lottery claims. Fortunately, lottery companies go out of their way to make claiming a prize as straightforward as possible. For minor prizes you can generally collect your prize direct from the lottery retailer. It is usually only necessary to visit specific locations and complete an official claims form when you have won a prize worth more than a set level, in which case you probably won’t mind a little extra hassle.
Lottery tickets are almost always considered to be “bearer instruments”, which basically means that whoever holds the ticket has the legal right to claim any prize won by that ticket. This makes it extremely important for all players to keep their lottery tickets safe and secure, because if they lose a ticket and someone else finds it, the finder can claim any prize due, even it is worth millions. Of course, even the person who finds the ticket still has to make sure that they claim their prize before the stated deadline...