Guidance

Child Tax Credit: support for a maximum of 2 children

Find out about the policy to provide support for a maximum of 2 children and what to do if an exception applies to you.

Overview

From 6 April 2017, there were 2 main changes to Child Tax Credit. From this date, you no longer get:

  • the family element of Child Tax Credit if there are no children on your claim who were born before 6 April 2017
  • the child element of Child Tax Credit for a third or later child born on or after 6 April 2017, unless one of the exceptions applies

Since 28 November 2018, the policy for when we’ll pay for children in non-parental caring arrangements or who are adopted has changed.

If you’re responsible for a child or children through adoption or as part of a non-parental caring arrangement (including where a child you are responsible for has a child of their own), then you’ll be able to receive an additional amount for these children.

This will not affect any amounts you may get for any other children in your household. You’ll need to provide supporting documents for this.

The disability element of Child Tax Credit will continue to be paid for all eligible children, even if we don’t pay the individual child element for that child.

Childcare will continue to be paid for all eligible children, even if we don’t pay the individual child element for that child.

In this guidance, a child is classed as:

Exceptions

If you’re responsible for a third or subsequent child and they meet the criteria for the multiple births or non-consensual conception exceptions listed below, you may get the additional child amount of Child Tax Credit for that child.

You may also be able to get an exception for any children in your household who meet the criteria for the non-parental care (including child of a child) or adoption exceptions.

The child amount you receive for this will not affect the amount of Child Tax Credit you may be able to get for any other children in your household.

The following sections describe the exceptions to the general rule that Child Tax Credit will provide support for a maximum of 2 children.

Multiple birth

If a further pregnancy results in a multiple birth on or after 6 April 2017, you’ll get the child element for all but one of those children.

For example, if you already get Child Tax Credit for 2 or more children and you have twins, you’ll get the child element for one of the twins. If you have triplets, you’ll get the child element for 2 of the triplets.

Where the first child of the multiple birth is either the first or second child in the household, we’ll pay a child amount for all the children born as part of the multiple birth.

Send supporting documents to the Specialist Exceptions Team

You must send the original full birth certificate of each child born as part of the multiple birth.

Include the word ‘exception’ and your National Insurance number at the top of your letter and send it to:

Exceptions
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1HZ

If you’ve already sent birth certificates as part of a Child Benefit claim, you do not need to send them again.

Just provide the full names of each child, including any middle names and their dates of birth.

A child you’re claiming Child Tax Credit for has a child

If you get Child Tax Credit for any children and one of them has a child on or after 6 April 2017, you can claim for their child.

You can continue to claim for your child and the baby until:

  • your child makes a claim in their own right
  • you are no longer responsible for the child or children; for example they leave the household or if the child leaves approved education or training

If your child leaves and their child stays in your care, you’ll no longer be able to claim this exception.

You may still be able to receive additional support if you continue to be responsible for your grandchild if you qualify under the non-parental arrangements exception.

Send supporting documents to the Specialist Exceptions Team

You must send your child’s original adoption certificate.

Include the word ‘exception’ and your National Insurance number at the top of your letter and send it to:

Exceptions
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1HZ

You adopt a child

Since 28 November 2018, the policy for when we’ll pay for children who are adopted has changed.

If you’re responsible for a child or children through adoption then you may be able to receive an additional amount for these children. This will not affect any amounts you may get for any other children in your household.

The exception will usually apply from the date you become responsible for the adopted child.

This could be the date of formal adoption or the date of placement, depending on when parental responsibility for the child passes to you.

You’ll need to let us know about any changes as soon as possible and provide us with supporting documents for any adopted child or children who live with you.

This exception doesn’t apply if you adopt a child from abroad, or if immediately before the adoption, either you or your partner were the child’s parent or step-parent.

Send supporting documents to the Specialist Exceptions Team

You must send your child’s original adoption certificate.

Include the word ‘exception’ and your National Insurance number at the top of your letter and send it to:

Exceptions
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1HZ

If you’re in the process of adopting a child and don’t have an adoption certificate, you must provide a letter from a registered social worker that includes:

  • the name of the child
  • the date they were placed with you
  • your name and your partner’s name, if applicable

Non-parental caring arrangements

You may be entitled to an additional amount of Child Tax Credit for a child or children if they are part of a non-parental caring arrangement and the supporting documents are provided.

Since 28 November 2018, the policy for when we’ll pay for children in non-parental caring arrangements has changed. You will be able to get the child amount for a child who is living with you as part of either:

  • a formal caring arrangement such as a child arrangement order or special guardianship order (or was in such an arrangement until their 16th birthday and has continued living with you) or
  • an informal caring arrangement, often known as kinship care, friends and family care or Connected Persons care, where it is likely they would otherwise be looked after by the local authority

The exception will usually apply from the date you become responsible for the non-parental care child. This will not affect any amounts you may get for any other children in your household.

This exception doesn’t apply if either you or your partner are the child’s parent or step-parent.

Formal caring arrangement

You must send the Specialist Exceptions Team proof of any of the following:

  • a Child Arrangements Order
  • a Guardianship Order
  • a Special Guardianship Order
  • you’re appointed as a Guardian (in Scotland)
  • a Kinship Care Order (in Scotland)
  • a Permanence Order (in Scotland)

Include the word ‘exception’ and your National Insurance number at the top of your letter and send it to:

Exceptions
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1HZ

Informal caring arrangement

An informal caring arrangement is an arrangement in which a child lives with you and you are not their biological parent or step-parent, and you have taken on their care on a full-time basis, sometimes known as friends and family care.

You must complete the informal care form.

You’ll need help from a registered social worker to complete this, as they need to confirm that the child you’re caring for is likely to have otherwise been looked after by a local authority.

A child born as a result of non-consensual conception

You can claim for this child if you get Child Tax Credit for 2 or more children and a further child, born on or after 6 April 2017, is likely to have been conceived either:

  • as a result of a sexual act which you didn’t or couldn’t consent to
  • at a time when you were in an abusive relationship, under ongoing control or coercion by the other biological parent of the child

You can’t claim this exception if you live with the other biological parent of the child.

You can qualify for this exception whether or not there’s been a court case or conviction of a criminal offence.

You’ll need to complete the non-consensual conception form with the help of an approved third-party professional.

You don’t have speak to, or give details about the circumstances of the conception to HMRC staff.

The approved third party will need to provide supporting information to show you’ve been in contact with them and that your circumstances meet the conditions of this exception.

Approved third-party professionals are:

  • healthcare professionals, for example, doctors, nurses, midwives or health visitors
  • registered social workers
  • specific organisations, such as specialist rape charities - find a list of these organisations

If you need to speak to us about this exception, you can call the Tax Credit Helpline and ask to speak to the Specialist Exceptions Team due to your circumstances.

If you’ve been affected by a crime, domestic abuse or have found this information distressing, there is support available for you.

If you need to talk to someone please contact one of the following organisations:

  • Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) - some areas of the UK have SARCs, use the NHS Choices tool to find one in your area
  • The Survivors Trust - has over 135 member agencies across the UK which provide support for survivors of rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse (Telephone: 0808 801 0818)
  • Rape Crisis England and Wales - a national charity and the umbrella body for a network of independent member Rape Crisis Centres (Telephone: 0808 802 9999)
  • The National Domestic Violence Helpline - run jointly by Women’s Aid and Respect, is a 24 hour, free phone national service (Telephone: 0808 2000 247)
  • Rape Crisis Scotland - (Telephone: 0808 801 0302)
  • Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline - a free 24 hour helpline staffed by specially trained workers and volunteers managed by Scottish Women’s Aid (Telephone: 0800 027 1234)
  • Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline - a free 24 hour helpline run by Welsh Women’s Aid (Telephone: 0808 80 10 800)
  • Victim Support - an independent charity offering support to people affected by crime or traumatic events (Telephone: 0808 168 9111)
  • the National Stalking Helpline - provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking (Telephone: 0808 802 0300 or email advice@stalkinghelpline.org)

You may find the Victim’s Information Service useful for locating support in your local area.

Published 6 April 2017
Last updated 28 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. The guidance has been updated to show changes to the rules for claiming support for a maximum of 2 children.
  2. Welsh translation added.
  3. First published.