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Last updated: 20 Feb 2024

How we use GOV.UK Notify

GOV.UK Notify is a Government-as-a-Platform service that allows clients of their API to send emails, text messages and letters. We use GOV.UK Notify to send emails to users - both members of the public and publishers. Historically, we’ve also used Amazon SES directly to send emails, but that’s being phased out in favour of GOV.UK Notify.

We have three main services on GOV.UK Notify (nine in total as we have a service for each environment):

  • GOV.UK Emails

This service is used by Email Alert API only. It’s used to send public-facing email updates about pieces of content on GOV.UK. It’s our biggest sender of emails generating millions of emails per day.

The Email Alert API Product dashboard shows usage over time.

Note: currently (as of 04/08/2020) GOV.UK Notify has a maximum rate limit of 350 requests per second and a daily limit of 30 million emails per day (Notify’s daily allowance with Amazon SES) meaning we should adhere to these limits when using Notify to deliver emails for our applications. The rate limit of 350 requests per second is set in email-alert-api and can be found in the SendEmailWorker. If you wish to double check these figures you could ask in their slack channel #govuk-notify.

  • GOV.UK Publishing

This service is used by our publishing applications. It’s used to send publisher-facing emails. The type of email can vary a lot, but a typical example might be to receive an email when a scheduled document on GOV.UK has been automatically published.

  • GOV.UK

This service is for any public-facing application that does not use the Email Alert Api to send emails.

Currently it is used by Feedback to email a survey link to users who click a survey banner or use the Is this page useful? feature.

Accessing the dashboard

👉 Sign in to the GOV.UK Notify dashboard

Use your own account if you have one, otherwise you can use the shared credentials under 2ndline/notify in Secrets Manager if necessary.

Receiving emails from GOV.UK Notify

Note: we have specific documentation for receiving Email Alert API emails in the integration and staging.

GOV.UK Notify services have two modes: live and trial. Our production services are all in live mode; most other services are in trial mode. In this mode emails will only be sent to members of the service or email address in the allow-list, any request to send an email to another email address will fail.

To receive emails in integration and staging through GOV.UK Notify, you should add yourself to the service:

  1. Choose the service in the appropriate environment and navigate to “Team members”.

  2. The members with the permission Manage settings, team and usage will be able to add you to this team.

The GOV.UK Publishing services are a special case: for these services, integration and staging also run in production mode. This is because Signon needs to be able to send emails to all users, even in integration and production. However, most of the apps using this service use a team-only API key with the same restriction; only Signon has a live key.