Service unavailable message

Date adopted: 
August 6, 2018
Last update: 
October 26, 2020

Why use this pattern?

This is a message that tells someone a service is unavailable. Sometimes this is on purpose or if something is unexpectedly wrong with the service.

They are also known as a 500, 503 or an internal server error message.

Log all errors and fix them as quickly as possible.

Only leave the message up for a short time. If a problem cannot be fixed quickly, close the service.

How it works

Your message should have:

  • "There is a problem with this service" as a sentence.
  • "Try again later" as another sentence.
  • Information about what has happened to the user's answers if they are in the middle of a transaction.
  • Contact information, if it exists.
  • A link to another service, if they can use it to do what they came to do.


Avoid the use of:

  • breadcrumbs;
  • jargon like 500 or bad request; and
  • "We are experiencing technical difficulties."


Sorry, there is a problem with this service. Try again later.

Email government-email or phone 000-000-0000 if you need to speak to someone.