New arrivals to the UK and Child Benefit

If you've come from another country to live in the UK you may be able to get Child Benefit for your child. But to qualify for it you'll have to satisfy some 'residency' rules.

On this page:

Who qualifies for Child Benefit?

To get Child Benefit you'll normally need to:

  • be physically present in the UK - together with your child
  • be 'ordinarily resident' in the UK - so your main home is here
  • have a 'right to reside' in the UK
  • be responsible for the child who's living with you

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Being present in the UK

Generally, to get Child Benefit both you and your child must be physically present in the UK. But you'll still be able to get it if you're out of the country for short, temporary stays, like on holiday.

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Being 'ordinarily resident'

To get Child Benefit, you normally have to be ordinarily resident in the UK. You'll usually be ordinarily resident if:

  • your main home is in the UK
  • you've chosen to live and settle here
  • you only go abroad for short periods, like on holiday

The Child Benefit Office will decide whether or not you're ordinarily resident by looking at all your circumstances.

Ordinarily resident - an example

Aleksy and his wife and son have moved permanently to the UK from Poland. Aleksy works as a self-employed property developer and his son is registered at the local school. As the family's main home is in the UK and they have chosen to live and settle here, they are classed as being ordinarily resident and can make a claim for Child Benefit.

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Having a 'right to reside' in the UK

To get Child Benefit you need to have a 'right to reside' in the UK. You have a right to reside in the UK if you're:

  • a UK national
  • a national of the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man

If you're from another country, there are certain rules that apply.

The Child Benefit Office will decide whether or not you have a right to reside by looking at all of your circumstances. The table below can give you an idea, but you'll need to actually claim Child Benefit to find out for definite if you qualify.

'Family member' in the table could mean your spouse (husband or wife) or civil partner, for example. It can also mean your children in certain circumstances.

The information in the table applies from 1 March 2014.
Where you’re from When you may have a right to reside in the UK
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

If one of the following applies to you or a family member:

  • you're working for an employer or self-employed in the UK
  • for at least three months in a row your average earnings have been more than £663 a month or £153 a week
  • you're actively looking for a type of work you have a reasonable chance of getting, and can provide good evidence that you are still actively looking after 6 months

Or, if both of the following apply to you or a family member:

  • you can support yourself and your family financially - as a guide, this means you have enough money to stay above the level at which you'd get certain benefits, like Income Support
  • you have comprehensive sickness insurance cover for yourself and your family

If your right to reside ends then your Child Benefit will also end at this time.

Croatia

If one of the following applies to you or a family member:

  • you're working in the UK - you'll normally need permission from the Home Office before you start work
  • for at least three months in a row your average earnings have been more than £663 a month or £153 a week
  • you're self-employed in the UK
  • you’re registered with Jobcentre Plus and, for at least 12 months before becoming unemployed, you were in a job authorised by the Home Office

Or, if all of the following apply to you or a family member:

  • you're actively looking for work - you must be looking for a type of work you have a reasonable chance of getting, and can provide good evidence that you are still actively looking after 6 months
  • you can support yourself and your family financially - as a guide, this means you have enough money to stay above the level at which you'd get certain benefits, like Income Support
  • you have comprehensive sickness insurance cover for yourself and your family
None of the above countries If you have permission to enter and remain in the UK.

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If you're subject to 'immigration control'

You may not be able to get Child Benefit if you're subject to 'immigration control'. You are subject to immigration control if any of the following apply:

  • the Home Office gives you permission to stay in the UK (known as 'leave to enter or remain') - but this permission is given to you on the grounds that you don't claim some benefits, tax credits or housing help paid by the UK government (known as 'no recourse to public funds')
  • you need permission to stay in the UK - again known as 'leave to enter or remain'- but you don't have it
  • you have been given permission to stay in the UK - but on the condition that someone else, like a friend, employer or relative (often called your 'sponsor'), supports you
  • you have been refused permission to stay in the UK - but you have appealed against that decision and your appeal hasn’t been decided yet

Sometimes if you're subject to immigration control you might still be able to claim Child Benefit, for example if you're from a country with which the UK has a social security agreement that covers Child Benefit.

Subject to immigration control - an example

Anisha and her children are from India and are staying with her sister's family near London. Anisha wants to make her home in the UK, but she hasn't been given permission to remain here.

Anisha is subject to immigration control.

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When you're not subject to 'immigration control'

You're not subject to immigration control if any of the following apply:

  • you're a UK national
  • you're a national of the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • you're a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland
  • you've claimed asylum and you have been told by the Home Office that you can stay in the UK as a refugee
  • the Home Office has told you that you are allowed to stay in the UK indefinitely

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If you're from a Commonwealth country and serve in the British Forces

If you're from one of the Commonwealth countries and you are serving in the British Forces in the UK, you are not subject to immigration control. This means you would usually be able to get Child Benefit.

You might be serving in the British Forces in the UK and then are posted back overseas. You can usually carry on getting Child Benefit even if you're outside of the UK.

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If you've come to the UK but your child has stayed behind

There are different arrangements for Child Benefit depending on whether you are working and if you're a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or not. Whatever your situation, you won't qualify unless you're responsible for your child.

If you have come to the UK and you're a national of a country outside the EEA or Switzerland, you may qualify for Child Benefit once your child actually arrives in the UK.

If however you are a national of an EEA country or Switzerland, you may be able to get Child Benefit even if your child doesn't come to the UK. But your child will need to be living in an EEA country or Switzerland.

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Countries that are in the European Economic Area (EEA)

The countries in the EEA along with the UK 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 and Sweden.

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Still unsure?

If you need advice you can call the Child Benefit Helpline.

Contact details for the Child Benefit Helpline

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More useful links

How to claim Child Benefit

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

New arrivals to the UK and tax credits

UK Visas and Immigration information on the GOV.UK website (Opens new window)

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