If you bring your children to the UK you may be entitled to financial help from the government in order to support them. This comes in the form of Child Benefit and Tax Credits. If you are from the European Economic Area (or Switzerland) and have the right to reside in the UK, you will normally be able to apply for this financial support. If you are from outside the EEA, and your immigration status includes the condition ‘has no recourse to public funds’, you will only be eligible for Child Benefit and Tax Credits if an agreement exists between your home country and the UK. Find out more below.
Tax credits are payments from the government to help with everyday costs. If you're responsible for at least one child or young person who normally lives with you, you may be eligible for Child Tax Credit (CTC). If you work, but earn low wages, you may be eligible for Working Tax Credit (WTC) whether or not you are responsible for any children.
There are a number of factors which decide whether you are entitled to claim Child Benefit or Tax Credits, and your individual circumstances will need to be taken into account by HM Revenue and Customs when they decide on any claims. In general however eligibility depends on the following:
- Responsibility for children. To claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit (CTC) you must be responsible for at least one child or qualifying young person. In general the child should normally live with you but in some cases you may be able to claim Child Benefit even if your child lives in another part of the EEA. If your child is disabled you may be able to claim a higher rate of CTC. If you are not responsible for children you may qualify for Working Tax Credit if your income is low.
- Ordinarily resident. To claim Child Benefit or Tax Credits you must be ordinarily resident in the UK. There are a number of different factors which affect this, such as the time that you plan to stay in the UK and your personal circumstances. For example, if you plan to settle in the UK as part of the regular order of your life for the time being, you can be considered to be ordinarily resident. Your residence status will be determined on a case by case fashion by HM Revenue and Customs. For more information about residency you can read the IR20 Booklet from HM Revenue and Customs.
- Nationality, immigration status and right to reside.
- Income (only for WTC/CTC). Tax credits (WTC/CTC) are means-tested, which means that your family income must be below a threshold amount to qualify for any tax credits. Child Benefit is not means tested.
- Child care provider (only for WTC). To claim for the childcare element of WTC your child(ren) must be looked after by an approved or registered childcare provider.
For more information on whether you will be eligible for Child Benefit or Tax Credits, visit the HM Revenue and Customs site. You can also download a leaflet about Child Benefit if you are coming from abroad.
To claim Child Benefit you must fill in a form, and this can be done online. However, you will normally need your National Insurance number. To find out about how to get a National Insurance number, visit our section on social security.
You will probably also be asked for extra details because you are coming into the system from abroad, and in particular you will need details of any other child benefit which you received prior to coming to the UK. Ensure that you have the reference number of the benefit, the address of the benefit agency and the details of the last payment.
You only need to fill in one form for both Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The online form is not currently available but you can request a form over the telephone or from your local tax office. To fill in the form you will normally need your National Insurance number and your Child Benefit Reference number. If you do not have these, please contact HM Revenue and Customs for advice. Tax Credits can normally only be backdated by three months. For more information, and for contact details, visit the Tax Credits website.
- The Child Trust Fund is a long-term savings and investment account designed to help parents save for their child’s future
- The government gives parents of eligible children a voucher for ₤250 which must be put into a Child Trust Fund
- Parents and other relatives or friends are encouraged to contribute further to the account in order to give the child a financial head-start.
- The money is tax free and in the child’s name, and can only be accessed by the child on, or after their 18th birthday.
- If you subsequently move abroad the Child Trust Fund can still be kept and you can still invest money in it. Your child will be able to access the money when they turn 18.
To be eligible the child must be:
- If your child is eligible for the Child Trust Fund, you should receive the ₤250 voucher automatically, a few weeks after you have been awarded Child Benefit.
To find out more, visit the Child Trust Fund website.