Child Benefit if you’re living or working abroad

You usually have to live in the UK to get Child Benefit. But you may qualify if you live in another European country, are a Crown Servant posted overseas, or leave the UK for a short time. Find out if you can get Child Benefit and how to keep your payments up to date.

On this page:

You live in another European country

You may be able to get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child, and both of the following apply:

  • you live in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, and work in the UK - it doesn't matter whether you're employed or self employed
  • you are a national of an EEA country or Switzerland

You could also qualify for Child Benefit if you live in an EEA country or Switzerland, and receive a National Insurance-related benefit from the UK. For example, State Pension.

EEA countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Family benefits from the country you live in

You may also be entitled to similar 'family' benefits from the country you live in. For example, if you're living in the Republic of Ireland, you might be able to get Child Benefit there.

Should you decide to claim UK Child Benefit, the Child Benefit Office will consider which country should pay you the money. If there is a difference in the amounts paid by each country, you could get a 'top-up' so that you don't lose out.

Child Benefit rates

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You live in the UK but work in another European country

If you live in the UK but work in another EEA country or Switzerland, you might make contributions to the other country's social security scheme. If so, you might be able to claim 'family' benefits from that country.

For the list of EEA countries, see the section 'You live in another European country' above.

Should you decide to claim UK Child Benefit, the Child Benefit Office will consider which country should pay you the money. If there is a difference in the amounts paid by each country, you could get a 'top-up' so that you don't lose out.

Child Benefit rates

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You're a Crown servant posted overseas

Special rules apply to Crown servants - UK civil servants or members of the armed forces who are posted and working abroad for the government.

You could get Child Benefit while you're working abroad so long as just before you were posted abroad you were either:

  • living in the UK and it was your main home
  • in the UK for reasons relating to your posting - not just visiting before your posting began

It doesn't matter whether your child goes with you or stays in the UK.

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You live or work in any country outside Europe

Unless you're a Crown servant posted abroad, you can’t get Child Benefit if you live or work in a country outside the EEA, or Switzerland. For the list of EEA countries, see the section 'You live in another European country' above. But if your child is staying in the UK and someone else becomes responsible for them, that person might want to claim Child Benefit.

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How to claim Child Benefit

To claim Child Benefit you need to fill in a Child Benefit claim form. You need to send it to the Child Benefit Office, along with your child's birth or adoption certificate.

How to claim Child Benefit

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Leaving the UK to go abroad - keeping your Child Benefit up to date

Going abroad temporarily

'Temporarily' means you don't expect to be away for more than 52 weeks from the time you leave. If you go abroad temporarily, you can still get your Child Benefit payments:

  • for the first 8 weeks - it doesn't matter why you're away or which country you go to
  • for the first 12 weeks - if you have to go anywhere abroad because you or a member of your family (for example your partner, child, a brother, sister or grandparent) are getting treatment for an illness, or a physical or mental disability
  • for the first 12 weeks - if you have to go anywhere abroad because a member of your family has died

You still need to meet the normal qualifying rules for Child Benefit. For example, your child must be under 16 or in education or training that counts for Child Benefit.

You must tell the Child Benefit Office if you go abroad temporarily for more than eight weeks. You can do this online by using the first link below, or you can call the Child Benefit Helpline.

Report going abroad temporarily for more than eight weeks

Contact details for the Child Benefit Helpline

Child Benefit - do you qualify

Child Benefit information if your child is in hospital or residential care

Crown servants - overseas posting

You could still get your Child Benefit payments if you or your partner are a Crown servant and are posted abroad. This means UK civil servants, or members of the armed forces, who are posted and working abroad for the government.

You need to let the Child Benefit Office know if this applies to you. You can do this online by using the first link below, or you can call the Child Benefit Helpline.

Crown servants - report leaving the UK for a posting abroad

Contact details for the Child Benefit Helpline

Going abroad permanently

'Permanently' means you are leaving the UK for good, or you expect to be away for more than 52 weeks when you leave.

You could still get your Child Benefit payments if you move to another European country. The situations when this applies are explained in the sections above.

You must tell the Child Benefit Office if you or your partner go abroad permanently. You can do this online by using the first link below, or you can call the Child Benefit Helpline.

Report going abroad permanently

Contact details for the Child Benefit Helpline

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If you or your partner have an individual income of more than £50,000

You or your partner could be liable to a tax charge called the 'High Income Child Benefit charge'. If either of you stop being entitled to Child Benefit it could affect your tax.

Instead of paying the tax charge, you or your partner could have decided not to receive Child Benefit payments. But you must still keep the Child Benefit Office up to date if either of you leave the UK, as explained in the section above.

High Income Child Benefit charge

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More useful links

Child Benefit - which changes you need to report

Download a leaflet about Child Benefit if you're coming from abroad or going abroad (PDF 62K)

Can you claim tax credits if you live outside the UK?

Find out about Income Tax when you leave the UK

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