Your child reaches 16 - can you still get Child Tax Credit?

When your child reaches 16 you can still get Child Tax Credit for them. But they'll need to be staying in full-time, 'non-advanced' education (usually at school or college), or starting an 'approved' training course. To help make sure you get the right payments, you need to tell the Tax Credit Office your child's plans.

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If your child is staying in education

You can get Child Tax Credit for your child up to their 20th birthday, if they're in education that counts for Child Tax Credit. This means

Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto a course that counts before their 19th birthday.

Full-time, non-advanced education will usually be in a school or college. It includes courses like:

  • A levels, or similar qualifications like Pre-U or the International Baccalaureate
  • Scottish Highers or Scottish Group Awards
  • NVQ at Level 3
  • Traineeships as part of 16-19 Study Programmes in England

You can't get Child Tax Credit if your child is doing:

  • higher education, such as a course at university level
  • education provided by their employer
  • education provided through any office they hold - for example if your child has an official role such as scout leader or councillor, and the education is provided as part of that role

'Full-time' means they're taught or supervised for more than an average of 12 hours a week during term time. This can include time spent on work experience if it's part of your child's course of education.

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If your child goes on to a training course

You can still get Child Tax Credit for your child up to their 20th birthday if they're doing 'approved' training. Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto an unwaged approved course before their 19th birthday.

For a training course to be approved it should be one of the following:

  • England - Access to Apprenticeships
  • Scotland - Employability Fund programmes or Get Ready for Work (if started before 1 April 2013)
  • Wales - Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships
  • Northern Ireland - Training for Success: Professional and Technical Training, including Programme Led Apprenticeships (Apprenticeships NI), Pathways to Success - Pathways for Young People and the Collaboration and Innovation Programme

A course provided by an employer as part of a job contract doesn't count as approved.

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If your child leaves education or training

Your child leaves education or training in the year they turn 16

Your child might not be staying on in education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit after age 16. If so, your Child Tax Credit payments will usually stop for them on 31 August after their 16th birthday.

Your child leaves education or training after 31 August following their 16th birthday

Your child might carry on in education or training, but leave at a later date - for example at age 18 or 19. Your payments will stop when your child leaves education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit.

If your child is still under 18, you could get up to 20 extra weeks of Child Tax Credit for them after they leave. For more information, see the next section.

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Under 18s who leave education or training - extension of Child Tax Credit

If your child leaves education or training before they're 18, you could get an extra period of Child Tax Credit for them.

The extra period is up to 20 weeks. It starts from the date your child left education or training that counted for Child Tax Credit.

To qualify for these extra weeks, your child needs to be aged 16 or 17 and be registered with any of the following:

  • in England - the local careers service, Connexions or local authority support service
  • in Scotland or Wales - the local careers service
  • in Northern Ireland - the careers service of the Department for Employment and Learning or an Education or Library Board
  • the Ministry of Defence - if your child has applied for and is waiting to join the Armed Forces
  • a similar organisation to others in this list in any European Economic Area country

You must tell the Tax Credit Office within three months of your child leaving education or training that they've registered with any of these organisations.

If you leave it longer than three months to get in touch, you won't be able to get the extra money.

If your child stops being registered with the organisation before the 20 weeks ends, you must tell the Tax Credit Office straight away.

Countries in the European Economic Area

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

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If your child starts work or goes on benefits

Your Child Tax Credit payments will stop straight away if one of the following happens:

  • your child leaves education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit, works 24 hours or more a week and gets paid
  • your child starts getting benefits or tax credits

But your payments can continue if your child works and also stays in education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit. For this to happen, the education or training needs to meet the conditions explained in the first two sections above.

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Keeping the Tax Credit Office up to date

Changes you need to report within one month

Tell the Tax Credit Office within one month if your child:

  • leaves education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit
  • starts advanced education - such as a course at university level
  • starts education that's provided by their employer as part of their job, or starts getting a wage for their approved training
  • starts education provided through any office they hold - for example if your child has an official role such as scout leader or councillor, and starts education provided as part of that role
  • gets a paid job and they're usually paid to work for 24 hours or more a week - and they've left education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit
  • starts to receive benefits or tax credits in their own right
  • stops being registered with a careers service like Connexions or a local authority support service - where you are getting the extra period of tax credits for them (of up to 20 weeks)
  • gets married or enters a civil partnership - or starts living with a partner as if they are

If you don't report these changes, you might be paid too much in tax credits. If the Tax Credit Office does overpay you, you'll usually have to pay the money back. They may also charge you a penalty.

Changes you should report as soon as possible

Tell the Tax Credit Office as soon as possible if your child stays on in education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit after they reach 16. If you don't, you'll only get Child Tax Credit for them until 31 August after their 16th birthday.

Tell the Tax Credit Office again if your child stays on:

  • after they reach 18
  • after they reach 19

Your Child Tax Credit will only carry on to 31 August if you don't get in touch. For example, your 18-year-old is staying on at college doing 'A' levels, but you don't tell the Tax Credit Office. Your payments for them will stop on 31 August after their 18th birthday.

Changes you should report within three months

Tell the Tax Credit Office within three months if your child is aged 16 or 17, and both of the following happen:

  • they stop education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit
  • they register with a careers service - like Connexions or a local authority support service

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How to report changes

You can report a change by either calling the Tax Credit Helpline or writing to the Tax Credit Office.

You can't email or report changes online for tax credits.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline and Office

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More useful links

Find out more about reporting changes and tax credits

Find out about repaying overpaid tax credits

Check what happens to Child Benefit if your child is 16 or over

School leaving age information on GOV.UK

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