3. Eligibility

Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child.

You normally qualify for Child Benefit if you’re responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training) and you live in the UK.

You’ll usually be responsible for a child if you live with them or you’re paying at least the same amount as Child Benefit (or the equivalent in kind) towards looking after them.

Contributions can include:

  • money
  • clothes
  • birthday and Christmas presents
  • food
  • pocket money

Child Benefit continues for 20 weeks if 16 or 17 year olds leave education or training and register with the armed services or a government-sponsored careers service.

Eligibility rules are different if your child:

Adoptions and fostering

Apply for Child Benefit as soon as any child you’re adopting comes to live with you - you don’t have to wait until the adoption process is complete.

The nationality of the child doesn’t affect whether you’re entitled to Child Benefit or not.

You might be able to get Child Benefit for a period before the adoption - contact the Child Benefit Office to find out.

If you foster a child, you’ll get Child Benefit if the local council isn’t paying anything towards the child’s accommodation or maintenance.

Looking after someone else’s child

You may be able to get Child Benefit if you’ve got an informal arrangement to look after a friend or relative’s child.

You might not qualify if your local council is paying towards the child’s accommodation or maintenance - contact the Child Benefit Office to find out.

Two people can’t get Child Benefit for the same child - if you want to make a claim, you must agree it with the person who’s currently claiming. HMRC will decide who receives the Child Benefit if you can’t agree.

You may also be entitled to Guardian’s Allowance if you’re responsible for a child who has lost one or both of their parents.

Living abroad

You may be able to get Child Benefit if you go to live in certain countries or if you’re a Crown servant.

If you’ve moved to the UK

You may be able to get Child Benefit if your main home is in the UK and you have permission to live in the UK.

If your child starts work or gets benefits in their own right

You’ll stop receiving Child Benefit immediately if your child:

  • starts paid work for 24 hours or more a week and is no longer in approved education or training
  • starts an apprenticeship in England
  • starts getting certain benefits in their own right, eg Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or tax credits

Child Benefit tax charge

You’ll still be eligible for Child Benefit even if you choose to stop receiving it because you or your partner has an income over £50,000. Stopping your Child Benefit payments does not affect your entitlement - you can always change your mind and restart them.

Contact the Child Benefit Office if you’re not sure about your eligibility.