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Check if you can get Child Benefit

This advice applies to England

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Child Benefit is a monthly payment that can help you with the costs of your children.

If you're eligible you'll get £20.70 a week for your first child and £13.70 a week for any children after that.

You can claim Child Benefit if:

  • you're 'responsible for the child'
  • the child is under 16 years old - or 16 to 20 years old and still in education or training

If you live abroad, you can't usually claim Child Benefit, but there are some exceptions. The rules are complicated so get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice to see if you're eligible.

You can't get Child Benefit if your child:

  • is in hospital or residential care and will be there longer than 12 weeks - unless you're still spending money on the child's needs
  • is 16 or over and working for more than 24 hours a week
  • has been in prison or custody during the last 8 weeks
  • has been looked after by a local authority for the last 8 weeks
  • is getting income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Credit, tax credits, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance
  • is married or in a civil partnership - unless they're either not living with their partner or their partner is in full-time education or training

If you're getting other benefits, the amount of Child Benefit you get won't reduce your other benefit payments.

If you're not from the UK

If you're a European Economic Area (EEA) national, you must have a right to reside in the UK. In most cases, the child you're claiming for needs to be living in the UK. If they're living in another EEA country, you might still be able to claim. The rules are complicated, so get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice before you apply.

Find out which countries are in the EEA on GOV.UK.

If you're not working, you need to have lived in the UK for 3 months before you can claim. There are some exceptions to this rule - find out more on GOV.UK.

If you're not an EEA national, claiming Child Benefit could affect your right to stay in the UK. Get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice before you apply.

If you or your partner earns £50,000 or more a year

If you earn £50,000 or more before tax each year you can still claim Child Benefit, but you'll have to start paying a 'Child Benefit tax charge'.

If you live with a partner and you both earn £50,000 or more, whoever earns the most will have to pay the tax charge - no matter who makes the claim for Child Benefit.

The more you earn over £50,000, the higher the tax charge. If your income goes above £60,000 the extra you pay in tax will cancel out what you get in Child Benefit. But it might still be worth claiming if one of you isn't working.

You can find out how much your tax charge will be on GOV.UK.

If one of you isn't working

Whoever isn't working should make the claim, even if your partner earns over £60,000. This is because by claiming you'll build up National Insurance contributions which count towards your state pension. It will also mean your child automatically gets a National Insurance number when they reach 16 years old.

If your partner earns £60,000 or more, when you fill in the claim form you can tick a box not to get paid Child Benefit - so your partner won't have to pay the extra tax and you'll still build up your National Insurance contributions.

Check you're responsible for the child

You'll usually be responsible for the child if one of the following applies:

  • you live with them
  • you regularly pay for the costs of their care - for example for clothing or food

If you pay to support the child, you can only claim Child Benefit if no one else is claiming it and you spend at least the Child Benefit amount on your child's needs each month.

If you're a foster parent or look after someone else's child as part of an informal agreement, you can claim Child Benefit as long as your local council isn't paying towards the child's accommodation or maintenance. If you're not sure, contact your local council to check.

If you have a partner or ex-partner

Only one person can claim Child Benefit for each child - you don't have to be the parent if you're responsible for the child.

If you live with your partner

Either of you can claim Child Benefit.

If one of you isn't working, it's best for them to make the claim. This is because they'll get National Insurance contributions which will improve their state pension amount. It will also mean your child automatically gets a National Insurance number when they reach 16 years old.

If you've separated from your partner

If you've separated from your partner and you're both responsible for the child, you'll have to agree between you who will make the claim. This will usually be the person the child lives with most of the time.

If you can't reach an agreement, you can both make a claim and let HMRC decide who will get the Child Benefit. There are complicated rules about who has priority but HMRC will usually give Child Benefit to the person the child lives with the most.

You can't appeal HMRC's decision about who can claim. To make sure you give HMRC the right information about your situation so they make the best decision, get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your partner or ex-partner has already made a claim and you disagree, you can make a claim as well - HMRC will decide who gets the benefit. There are complicated rules about who has priority but HMRC will usually give Child Benefit to the person the child lives with the most.

Check what counts as education or training

Your child is in education if they're studying for more than 12 hours on average a week. For example, A-levels, Scottish Highers, NVQ levels 1-3 or continuing home education. They must have started the course or enrolled on it before the age of 19.

Your child will be in training if they're on a training scheme and not getting paid. 

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