Child Benefit

Last updated: 28 Feb 2022

Child Benefit is a benefit for people responsible for dependent children. Most families with children can claim Child Benefit.

Child Benefit if you have come from outside the UK

You may not be able to get Child Benefit if you, or your child, do not meet the conditions about immigration status and residence in the UK. This can apply to some people from abroad, including some EEA nationals who are not working. If you are not sure whether you can claim Child Benefit, you should get advice.

Who should claim Child Benefit

You should claim Child Benefit if:

  • You are responsible for a child under 16.
  • Or you are responsible for a young person aged 16-19 in certain circumstances.

Being responsible for a child normally means that the child lives with you. The person responsible for the child does not have to be the parent, but only one person can claim Child Benefit for one child at the same time.

If you share care of a child or young person with somebody else, you may need advice about what will happen to Child Benefit. You may be able to decide between you who will make the claim, or if you make competing claims, HMRC will decide, using priority rules to help them do so. You can have an arrangement where different people claim Child Benefit for different children (if you have responsibility for more than one child shared with another person), or one person claims Child Benefit and another person claims Child Tax Credit.

You cannot usually claim Child Benefit if your child is in the care of the local authority. You can get information about this from the Family Rights Group, or seek further advice.

In some cases, you can get Child Benefit if you contribute to the cost of supporting a child, but this will usually only apply if no one else is claiming. You should get advice if you think this applies to you.

Who counts as a child for Child Benefit

You can claim child benefit for children under 16, and for young people aged 16 to 19 if they are in full-time, non advanced education. Non advanced education includes A levels, GCSEs, and NVQ/SVQs at level three or below. If a child over 16 is doing a degree, you can’t claim Child Benefit for them.

If a your son or daughter is 19, you can continue to claim Child Benefit for them only if they started their course, or were enrolled on it, before their 19th birthday. Child Benefit will stop at age 20, or when they finish the course if that is earlier.

More information about who can claim Child Benefit is on the benefit pages of GOV.UK

How much is Child Benefit

Child Benefit is paid at a higher rate for the eldest child and a lower rate for any younger children. If you have twins the first twin to be born is the elder child. You can only receive the higher rate of Child Benefit for one child.

If you live with a partner who has children from another relationship, and the children also live with you, you can only get the higher rate of Child Benefit for the oldest of all the children.

Child Benefit and higher earners

If you or a partner you live with have taxable income of more than £50,000, some of all of your Child Benefit may have to be paid back through a tax charge. You can choose not to claim Child Benefit, but in most cases it is advisable to claim it even if you will not receive it, so that you still get the benefit of national insurance credits if you need them (see below).  You can have a look at the Child Benefit pages of GOV.UK to find out more (the charge is known as the ‘High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge’).

National Insurance credits and Child Benefit

If your child is under 12 and you’re not working or do not earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions, Child Benefit can help you qualify for National Insurance credits. These credits count towards your State Pension. They protect it by making sure you do not have gaps in your National Insurance record.

How to claim Child Benefit

Claiming Child Benefit is usually straightforward, as most parents get a claim pack when their baby is born. Alternatively, you can call the Child Benefit Office on 0300 200 3100. Child Benefit can be backdated for up to three months (this means it is paid for a period before you make your claim). So, as long as you claim within three months of your baby’s birth, you will not lose any money.

You can find out how to claim Child Benefit on the benefit pages of the GOV.UK website.

This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

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