3. Joint claims

You can apply for tax credits as a single person, or as a couple (known as a ‘joint claim’) if you’re both 16 or over and living in the UK.

Usually, you must make a joint claim if:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership (and not permanently or legally separated)
  • you live with your partner as though you’re married or in a civil partnership
  • you’re temporarily living away from one another, eg looking after a relative or working abroad for the government for less than 8 weeks

You might also need to make a joint claim if you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, but:

  • sometimes live in the same house
  • have a joint financial agreement
  • have dependent children


You don’t always make a joint claim because you have a partner. For example, make a single claim if:

  • you live in the UK but your partner lives abroad and you don’t have any children
  • you live in the UK but your partner and children live outside the EEA or Switzerland (unless your partner works for the government)
  • you both live abroad, you’re from the EEA or Switzerland and you work in the UK but your partner doesn’t, and you have no children

If you’re not sure

Call the Tax Credit Helpline to find out if you should make a joint claim.

You must pay back any tax credits you’re not entitled to if you don’t make the right sort of application.