How to claim Child Benefit online – everything you need to know about HMRC’s online service!

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Expecting a baby? Or perhaps your little one is already here and you’re short of cash, time and sleep?! I’m delighted to tell you that applying for Child Benefit has never been more simple – the online service from HMRC means you can sort your claim any time of the day (or night! 😴) in less than ten minutes. 

My guide to applying for Child Benefit online covers it all – including who’s eligible for Child Benefit, how to claim, how much it’s worth and how it differs from other benefits like Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

Watch the video for a whistle-stop tour of how to apply for Child Benefit online – and read below for everything you need to know, including frequently asked questions – so that you can get your claim sorted quickly and easily!

 

What is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit has been providing parents in the UK with extra cash since 1977 – it’s a regular fixed payment to give parents a little bit of help with the extra costs that come with having kiddies.

 

How much is it worth?

With life being so darn expensive at the moment, applying for Child Benefit is a great way to boost your household income – with two children, it bumps up our household budget by a brilliant £2000 each year!

frugal mum with family at the beach on holiday

It’s worth £24 a week (£1,248 a year) for the eldest, or only child, and £15.90 a week (£826 a year) for each additional child. You’ll usually get it paid into your account every 4 weeks but you can have the money paid weekly if you’re a single parent or getting certain other benefits, such as Universal Credit.

The online service is super quick and easy and (rather than sending off forms and waiting weeks for payment like we did when the kids were small!) you should have the money in your account in less than a week.

 

When does Child Benefit increase?

Each year, at the start of the new tax year in April, many of the benefit rates will change. This year, for April 2024, Child Benefit has been confirmed to be rising by 6.7% – increasing the payment for your eldest child to £25.60 per week (up from £24) and £16.85 for additional children (up from £15.90).

 

Who can claim Child Benefit?

You’re eligible to claim Child Benefit if you’re looking after a child who is under the age of 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training) and there’s no limit on the number of children that parents can claim for.

frugal mum children at beach in dressing gowns, evening swim

You can claim 24 hours after registering the birth of your baby so, once you’ve done so, keep the birth certificate to hand to create your Child Benefit account.

For families with adopted children, or whose child’s birth was registered outside of the UK, you can still claim for Child Benefit online but you’ll need to send additional information through the post to support the application.

If either you or your partner have an individual income over £50,000 a year, you may have to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge. This effectively reduces the amount of Child Benefit that you’re entitled to and means that you’ll have to register for self assessment. You can work out if your adjusted net income is over £50,000 using the Child Benefit tax calculator.

If either you or your partner have an individual income of £60,000 or over, you’ll be charged the same amount as you’d make through Child Benefit payments. You’ll end up with no extra money from Child Benefit – so it may be easier just to opt out of payments, though you can still benefit from the National Insurance credits if needed.

 

How do I claim Child Benefit?

No more paper forms – hurray! You can complete your application online when it suits you at GOV.UK, and your Child Benefit can be backdated by up to 3 months – so don’t put it off! Be sure to have the relevant documents handy – you’ll need all the usual info about yourself and your partner, if relevant to you.

You’ll need to enter your:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Your national insurance numbers
  • Details about your child – including the reference number on their birth certificate
  • Bank details

 

How does Child Benefit affect my pension?

When claiming Child Benefit, if you have a child under 12 years old, you’ll automatically get National Insurance credits (even if you’re not working or earning enough to pay tax) which count towards your State Pension to avoid gaps in your record.

Only one person can claim Child Benefit for a child, so consider which parent would be best to make the claim – though you can transfer the National Insurance credits to your partner.

 

Can I get organised before my baby arrives?

Life with a new baby is super tiring so, if you’ve got a little one on the way, why not save yourself time by setting up a Government Gateway account before the baby arrives? You’ll need two proofs of ID – such as a passport or a driving licence – a full list of ID options can be found on GOV.UK.

frugal mum with young children cuddling on sofa, two babies

HMRC will then send you an activation code via email. Once you have it, you can then apply for Child Benefit online after your baby’s birth has been registered.

 

Are Child Benefit and Tax Credits the same?

Child Benefit and Tax Credits are not the same thing. In the UK, everyone with a child is entitled to claim Child Benefit (though as I mentioned above it isn’t always worthwhile with a high income) whereas Tax Credit benefits are entirely income based to support those on a lower income. Child Benefit is paid per child, whereas Tax Credits are family-based payments.

Child Benefit payments are not linked to nor affected by any Tax Credit payments. Tax Credits are actually being replaced by Universal Credit for new customers. But if you’re already receiving Tax Credits – then claiming Child Benefit could be a real income boost if you need a bit more help.

 

Are Child Benefit and Universal Credits linked?

Just like Tax Credits, Universal Credit is also not linked to Child Benefit payments. Universal Credit is a separate benefit offering financial support to families with a lower income – as I mentioned above, it’s the newer alternative to the old Tax Credit system. If you’re wondering which family benefits you may entitled to, everything you need to know can be found on the GOV.UK website. Or, use a benefit calculator to help.

 

When does Child Benefit stop / to what age can I claim?

As I mentioned above, you can claim Child Benefit until your child reaches 16 years of age. However, if they choose to stay in approved education or training you may be able to continue the claim until they reach the age of 20. But it’s important to note that you will need to report this to HMRC so, if your child is continuing with their education, make sure that you let HMRC know so that they continue your Child Benefit payments.

frugal mum children on tree branch, playing outside in nature, woodland walk

 

How does Child Benefit work for single parents / split families?

If you have two children and one stays with you and the other stays with your ex-partner, you’ll both get the higher eldest / only child rate for each child – £24 each week. If both parents claim for the same child, only one of you will get Child Benefit for them – payments are per child not per family so the person who cares for the child / children the most should make the claim.

 

How does Child Benefit work if families join together?

If two families join together, forming one new household, the eldest child in the new family will qualify for the higher rate given to the eldest child, whilst payments for any other children who are eligible will be at the additional child rate.

 

How can I manage / amend my Child Benefit claim?

After applying online, you can easily manage your Child Benefit (and loads of other things!) using the HMRC app. You can use it to:

  • Report a change in circumstance
  • See your last 5 Child Benefit payments
  • View your proof of entitlement for Child Benefit

frugal mum family holiday photo on balcony with children sitting at table

 

Ready to claim Child Benefit? Get started here:

Child benefit online claim information to start now

And don’t forget to visit GOV.UK to see what else you may be entitled to, if you need a little extra help. 

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