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Go live

Follow these steps to start taking real payments from users.

Before you start

You must:

Compared to your test account, your live account may have a:

  • slower response time, because GOV.UK Pay must wait for responses from your payment service provider (PSP)
  • lower transaction limit - check with your PSP

Contact us if you need help going live.

1. Request a live GOV.UK Pay account

You’ll need to tell us:

  • your organisation’s name and address
  • if you’ll be using GOV.UK Pay’s PSP Stripe, or another PSP

Select your test account from the My services page in the GOV.UK Pay admin tool, then select Request a live account.

We’ll respond within one working day, and we can usually activate your live account on the same day.

Your live account will appear on the My services page in the GOV.UK Pay admin tool, labelled Live card account.

You can still use your test account.

2. Connect your live account to your PSP

Once you have a GOV.UK Pay live account, you can connect that account to your payment service provider (PSP).

You can connect your live account to:

  • Stripe, GOV.UK Pay’s current PSP
  • Worldpay, Government Banking’s current PSP - if you’re a central government or health sector organisation
  • ePDQ if you connected another live account to ePDQ before 1 August 2020
  • SmartPay if you connected another live account to SmartPay before 1 August 2020

You will no longer be able to connect live accounts to ePDQ and SmartPay after 31 July 2021.

If either GOV.UK Pay’s or Government Banking’s PSP changes, we’ll work with you to move you to the new PSP.

3. Set up Strong Customer Authentication

You must set up Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) by:

  • 31 December 2020 if you take payments from the European Economic Area (EEA), defined as the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein
  • 14 September 2021 if you only take payments from within the UK

To implement SCA, you must set up 3D Secure 2 (3DS2) or 3D Secure 1 (3DS1) payment authentication.

How you set up 3DS2 or 3DS1 payment authentication depends on which Payment Service Provider (PSP) you’re using.

4. Choose which card types to accept

Choose which card types to accept by signing into the GOV.UK Pay admin tool.

If you use Worldpay, SmartPay or ePDQ, you must also make sure the same card types are selected in your PSP account.

You can also block prepaid cards.

Accept American Express if you use Worldpay

If you use Worldpay and you want to accept American Express cards, you must contact either:

  • Government Banking - if your Worldpay contract is through Government Banking
  • your Worldpay account manager

You must send your American Express merchant ID to Government Banking or Worldpay if you’re a non-Crown merchant.

5. Check your settings match your test account

You need to make the following changes to your live account if you made them to your test account:

  • add a custom paragraph to payment confirmation emails
  • switch off sending payment confirmation emails
  • switch off collecting your users’ billing addresses
  • switch on sending refund confirmation emails
  • add payment links

6. Check your live account works

  1. Select your live account from the My services page in the GOV.UK Pay admin tool.

  2. Select Settings, then API keys.

  3. Generate a new live API key.

  4. Use the new live API key to test making a real payment on your live account, using the GOV.UK Pay API or a payment link.

    You must use a real payment card. Use a small amount, because GOV.UK Pay will take the payment from the card you use.

  5. After you’ve confirmed the payment, check you received a confirmation email.

  6. Check the payment appears in your transactions in the GOV.UK Pay admin tool.

  7. Select the payment and check you can refund it - it may take up to 20 minutes for the Refund payment button to appear.

If your payment or refund fails, check: