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HMRC internal manual

Child Benefit Technical Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Residence and immigration: residence - introduction

Introduction

The general rule is that to be entitled to Child Benefit, the person claiming and the child/ren or qualifying young person/s they are claiming for must live in the United Kingdom. Short absences abroad for holidays or on business will not affect eligibility. Some people may be eligible even if they, or the child/ren or qualifying young person/s they are claiming for, do not live in the United Kingdom.

In Great Britain or Northern Ireland

The Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, section 146 for Great Britain

The Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992, section 142 for Northern Ireland

To be eligible for Child Benefit, a person must be in Great Britain or Northern Ireland (section 146(2) for Great Britain and section 142(2) for Northern Ireland).

The circumstances in which a person is to be treated as being or not being in Great Britain or Northern Ireland is set out in regulations. CBTM10020 onwards provides details.

Children or qualifying young persons being claimed for must be in Great Britain or Northern Ireland (section 146(1) for Great Britain and section 142(1) for Northern Ireland).

Great Britain and Northern Ireland is England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and adjacent Islands. It does not include the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Present, ordinarily resident and ‘right to reside’

 
 
 
 
 

The general rules - present, ordinarily resident and ‘right to reside’

The Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, section 146

The Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992, section 142

The Child Benefit (General) Regulations 2006, regulations 23 & 27

The general rule is that to be treated as being in Great Britain or Northern Ireland for the purposes of Child Benefit, a person must be both present and ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom throughout the period of the award. For new claims made on or after 1st May 2004, for the purposes of Child Benefit, to be treated as being in the UK a person must also have a ‘right to reside’ in the United Kingdom.

Present in Great Britain or Northern Ireland

The Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, section 146

The Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992, section 142

The requirement to be present in the United Kingdom is imposed directly by section146 of the Social Security.

Contributions and Benefits Act for Great Britain and section142 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 for Northern Ireland (The Acts) (as amended by the Child Benefit Act 2005), which requires that a person be “in Great Britain or Northern Ireland” (whichever the case requires). On its own, this would require the person to be physically present here on each day throughout the period of an award. However, there are rules to allow entitlement to continue during temporary absences of limited duration. These rules are explained at CBTM10030.

Ordinarily resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland

Child Benefit (General) Regulations 2006 regulations 23 & 27

The requirement to be ordinarily resident is imposed by regulations 23 and 27 of the Child Benefit (General) Regulations 2006. There are certain exceptions to this requirement, and these are explained at “Ordinary residence: people deported to the UK” (below).

Special cases

There are special rules for Crown Servants posted overseas and their partners (see CBTM10060).

Child Benefit is a family benefit under European Community (EC) Regulation 1408/71. This means EEA nationals compulsory insured in the UK social security scheme as an employed or self-employed person or in receipt of a UK contributory benefit may still be entitled to Child Benefit whilst in another European Economic Area country.

Right to reside in the United Kingdom

Child Benefit (General) Regulations 2006, regulations 23 and 27

A person is not treated as being in Great Britain or Northern Ireland (as the case requires) for the purposes of the Acts if they

  • made a claim for Child Benefit on or after 1 May 2004; and
  • they do not have a right to reside in the UK.

These rules are explained at CBTM10070.

The following groups have a right to reside in the UK when claiming Child Benefit:

  • All UK nationals and those with a right to reside in the Common Travel Area (which covers the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)
  • All EEA nationals working in the UK - there are special rules for nationals of the eight central European countries that acceded to the EU on 1 May 2004 and for nationals of Bulgaria and Romania, which acceded to the EU on 1 January 2007
  • All EEA nationals who are self-employed in the UK
  • Work-seekers from the pre-1 May 2004 EEA Member States, Cyprus and Malta who have a reasonable chance of finding work and A2 nationals who have been admitted under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme and who hold a certificate confirming they have unconditional access to the UK labour market
  • Non EEA nationals with leave to enter or remain in the UK
  • Those with a permanent right of residence
  • EEA nationals who have sufficient resources to avoid becoming a burden on the social assistance system of the United Kingdom (i.e. self-sufficient)
  • The following groups only have a right to reside in the UK if they have sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the UK:
  • A8 nationals and (apart from those admitted under the Highly Skilled Migrants’ Programme) A2 nationals who are looking for work, including those who lose their job before having worked in the UK lawfully and without interruption for a period of 12 months or more and they don’t get another job within 30 days
  • All EEA nationals, including A8 and A2 nationals, who are economically inactive.

For these groups, all the claimant’s personal circumstances are taken into account when deciding whether they are self-sufficient. Such factors could include whether or not they have claimed a social assistance benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions in Great Britain or the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland (i.e. Income Support, income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance, or State Pension Credit).

The European Economic Area

The countries listed below were EEA Members States prior to 1 May 2004:

  • UK
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Luxemburg
  • Greece

The EU has an agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area, EEA) and a separate agreement with Switzerland, which confers similar rights of EU nationals on nationals of those countries.

On 1 May 2004 ten countries joined the EU. They were:

  • Estonia*
  • Latvia*
  • Lithuania*
  • Poland*
  • The Czech Republic*
  • Slovakia*
  • Hungary*
  • Slovenia*
  • Cyprus
  • Malta

(*the ‘A8 countries).

On 1 January 2007 two countries, known as A2 countries, joined the EU. They were:

  • Bulgaria
  • Romania