Lost property

Personal information we hold

Reports or enquiries about lost property are submitted to TfL using our online portal, via our customer contact centres, at our stations and by email or post. The personal information we hold includes:

  • Name, address, email address, telephone number
  • Description of your lost property (for example: title, date lost, category such as bag, bank card, coat, etc, colour, brand, location lost and any additional information)
  • Other personal information that may help us to identify you or your property
  • Payment card information or bank account and sort code numbers, where these are used to pay for fees or to identify customers through their banking organisation

We also hold a large variety of personal information contained in lost property items found on the TfL network. Such items can include laptops, mobile phones, payment cards, passports, driving licences, bank statements, items of correspondence, etc.

If you telephone our Lost Property Office or one of our other customer contact centres about an item of lost property, your call will be recorded for training and quality purposes.

Legal basis for using your information

Under privacy and data protection legislation, TfL is only allowed to use personal information if we have a proper reason or 'legal basis' to do so.  In the case of administering our lost property process, we rely on the following legal grounds:

Our statutory and public functions

  • To undertake activities to promote and encourage safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services, and to deliver the Mayor's Transport Strategy

For 'compliance with a legal obligation' that TfL is subject to

  • The handling of lost property found on the TfL network falls under the London Transport Act 1982 and the London Cab Order 1934

Obtaining and using your information

TfL and the companies that process personal information on our behalf use your personal information for customer services and administration, managing items of lost property and fraud prevention.

Information is collected from you when you submit an enquiry relating to an item of lost property and when you arrange to have that item passed back to you (for example, booking a collection appointment or arranging postal delivery).

If you make an enquiry through our online portal, we'll send you occasional updates as to the status of your enquiry, or to request additional information that will assist us finding your property.

If your lost property is found, we'll email you to make arrangements to allow you to collect it or have it delivered. We'll capture your name and email or postal address during the collection process, and where necessary we'll ask you to show identification. We may also capture your telephone number.

If you book a collection appointment via our online booking system, you'll receive a one-time password (sent to your email address) to finalise the booking and a confirmation email confirming the appointment details.

Much of the lost property found on TfL's premises/services (and in taxis we regulate), contains personal information. TfL may use this information to attempt to identify and/or contact you as the owner of that item (for example, checking whether a lost Oyster card is registered with us or contact details are included within the item). We might also contact relevant third parties to try and reunite you with your property.

We won't use your personal information for marketing purposes and won't pass it to any other organisation for those purposes.

Length of time we keep information

TfL will retain personal information in line with its data retention policies. This means that we won't hold information for longer than is necessary for the purposes we obtained it for.

We hold records relating to lost property enquiries and details of property found on the network for 2 years. Where a payment including VAT has been made for administration or delivery charges, we hold copies of the receipts for 7 years.

Any email correspondence with customers concerning lost property (including complaints and commendations) is held for 7 years.

All unclaimed lost property is typically held for approximately three months, although this can be extended in some circumstances. Any unclaimed items become the legal property of TfL after a period of three months from the date they are handed in. Items can then be sold, donated, recycled, reused or destroyed. Before items are disposed of using any of these methods, any personal information contained in them will be destroyed or permanently deleted.

We continue to hold information after property has been claimed for the following reasons:

  • To respond to correspondence, concerns or complaints
  • To maintain records according to rules that apply to us
  • To establish and defend any legal rights

Keeping your information secure

We take the privacy of our customers very seriously and a range of robust policies, processes and technical measures are in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, personal information associated with the administration of lost property. This includes payment card data which is handled in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ('PCI DSS').

Anyone with access to personal information held in TfL's systems is required to complete TfL's privacy and data protection training on an annual basis.

We also publish guidance on the steps you can also take to protect your personal information.

Automated processing and profiling

Under data protection legislation we must let you know when we use your personal information to do something 'automatically' using our computers or other systems, or make an automated decision (without human intervention) that significantly affects you.

Our lost property system will carry out automated search and mapping of lost property enquiries against the details of items found on the TfL network so they can be presented as a potential match. In many instances a match will be reviewed by a human to manually decide if the enquiry is correctly mapped to a found item. For some items containing no personal data or sensitive items (for example: hat, gloves, scarves and similar) an automated decision may take place.

Sharing your information

TfL has contracts with a number of third party service providers that provide 'back office' functions which support the efficient day-to-day operation of our Lost Property Office and stations/services where property may be handed into or found at. This includes auction, courier, data cleansing and lost property disposal services.

We may share personal information relating to an item of lost property in a number of circumstances, e.g. for the purposes of verifying your claim of ownership, to help us reunite you with your property and to prevent/detect crime (including fraudulent claims of ownership). Any information sharing is managed in accordance with relevant privacy and data protection legislation.

To help reunite mobile phones with their owner, we may give police the IMEI numbers to upload to the National Mobile Property Register on TfL's behalf. In the case of lost payment cards, our Lost Property Office may give your bank or credit card provider a letter to pass on to you. Similarly, in the case of a lost school/college bag, if we can identify your name and educational establishment, we may contact them in the same way. However, we will never disclose the details of the lost property itself, or ask for them to provide us with information about you.

Sometimes individuals may also report their property as missing to the police or an insurance company (e.g. because they think their property has been stolen rather than mislaid). As a result, we may share information about lost property with these types of organisation so that they can help us return items to their rightful owner.

In some circumstances, disclosures of personal data to the police (and other law enforcement agencies) are permitted by data protection legislation, if they relate to the prevention or detection of crime and/or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders. Before any such disclosure takes place, the police are required to demonstrate that the personal data concerned will assist them in this respect. Each police request to TfL is dealt with on a strictly case-by-case basis to ensure that any such disclosure is lawful and in accordance with data protection legislation.

Overseas processing

TfL and its service providers process your personal information principally within the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA), but some limited personal information may be processed in America. Any such processing is subject to appropriate contractual safeguards and carried out in accordance with the requirements of UK and EU privacy legislation.

Your information rights

Under data protection legislation you are entitled to ask to see any personal information that we hold about you. 

To request access to your information held by TfL, please see our page on how to access your data.  

You also have a number of other information rights which include:

  • The right to question any information we have about you that you think is wrong or incomplete
  • The right to object to how we use your information or to ask us to delete or restrict how we use it
  • In some cases, the right to receive a copy of your information in a format that you can easily re-use
  • The right to complain to the regulator - the Information Commissioner's Office

The TfL Privacy and Data Protection team considers and coordinates responses to requests and complaints from people whose personal data is processed by TfL and its subsidiary companies. You can contact the Data Protection Officer by email at dpo@tfl.gov.uk

Changes to this page

It's likely that we'll need to update this statement from time to time, so check back here regularly to find out more. This page was last updated in July 2022.