Skip to main content
Last updated: 2 Feb 2024

GOV.UK's environments (integration, staging, production)

GOV.UK has several environments with different purposes. By environment, we mean:

  • a self-contained, running instance of all the software components of GOV.UK
  • the AWS account and VPC network which hosts that instance of GOV.UK
  • the configuration (settings) for that instance of GOV.UK

This document describes each GOV.UK environment and its uses.

There are three GOV.UK environments hosted in AWS: integration, staging and production. Individual developers also run GOV.UK locally on laptops or workstations.

The Release dashboard shows which application versions have been rolled out in each environment.

Local development environments

Software developers working on GOV.UK generally either use govuk-docker or run the applications directly on their machines alongside copies of the necessary databases.

In future, we hope to improve govuk-helm-charts to be able to run the whole GOV.UK stack locally. This should make it easier for new contributors to get started on GOV.UK, encourage open-source engagement and reduce friction for developers.


GOV.UK product teams use the integration test environment for:

  • manual software testing, where automated test coverage is not yet sufficient and/or the govuk-docker local development environment is insufficient
  • automated end-to-end/system tests (Smokey) which determine whether a software release is automatically promoted to the staging environment

Currently, the integration environment is also used by content editors at GDS and in other departments as a workaround to preview certain types of content changes. This usage needs to be replaced by proper preview functionality in the Publisher applications so that all end-user usage happens in production.

There are no guarantees about availability of the integration environment and support is on a best-effort basis only.


GOV.UK Platform Engineering team uses the staging environment for:

  • verifying changes to cluster configuration or cloud infrastructure, such as Kubernetes cluster upgrades

GOV.UK product teams occasionally use the staging environment for:

  • testing of major changes which need to run on a full copy of production data
  • testing that involves measuring system performance or resource usage, for example load testing and stress testing

The staging environment is currently also a gate for automatic deployment of new releases to production.

Front ends in the staging environment are reachable from GDS network addresses only. This is to prevent content in staging being mistakenly linked to. If you are working outside a GDS office, you will need to connect via the VPN in order to view the website on the staging environment. Apps that require you to log in via GOV.UK Signon do not require the VPN.


The production environment runs the versions of the applications which serve content to the general public.