You have children - can you get tax credits for them?

If you have a new baby, or you're responsible for any children under 16, you could get Child Tax Credit. You can also qualify if you have children aged 16 to 19, as long as they're in certain types of education or training.

On this page:

When you can claim for a child

You can usually claim Child Tax Credit for:

  • a new baby
  • any child who lives with you, until 31 August after their 16th birthday
  • children under 20, if they're in certain types of education or training

If you have a baby, your payments can be backdated to when the baby was born - but only if you claim within one month. For example, if your baby was born on 1 January but your claim is received on 1 June, you'll only be paid from 1 May.

How to claim tax credits

New baby - find out what tax credits you are entitled to

Once 31 August after your child's 16th birthday passes, you can still claim Child Tax Credit for them, as long as they are:

  • under 20
  • in education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit

Education or training counts for Child Tax Credit if it's either full-time, 'non-advanced' education, or 'approved' training. For example 'A' levels, or Access to Apprenticeships.

Check which education or training counts for Child Tax Credit

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If you're not the child's parent

You can claim Child Tax Credit if you have responsibility for a child. This could be for example if:

  • the child usually lives with you
  • the child keeps their toys, clothes and so on at your home
  • you pay for their meals and give them pocket money

There can be exceptions to this. For example, if a child from abroad lives with you as an exchange student, you can’t normally claim Child Tax Credit for them. This is because they do not usually live with you and are only in the UK for their education.

If you're not sure whether you count as being responsible for a child you can call the Tax Credit Helpline for advice.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

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Adoptive parents and foster parents

A child might be placed with you for either adoption or fostering. You can claim Child Tax Credit for them as long as you're not getting any money from your:

  • local authority
  • Health and Social Services Board

If you are getting money from either of these, call the Tax Credit Helpline to find out if you can claim.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

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If your child lives with more than one person

Only one household can get Child Tax Credit for a child.

You might look after a child who sometimes lives with you and sometimes lives with someone else. You can't both get Child Tax Credit for the same child, so you'll have to decide who should get it.

You can't claim Child Tax Credit if your child doesn't live with you at all - even if you're paying maintenance.

If you can't agree who'll claim

If you can't agree who'll get the Child Tax Credit, both of you should claim for the child. Then the Tax Credit Office will decide for you. They'll contact both of you so that they can work out who has main responsibility for the child. They will consider things that include the number of days the child lives with you, and where they keep most of their clothes and toys.

If you're already getting Child Tax Credit for your child

Someone else might make a claim for a child you're getting Child Tax Credit for. If this happens, the Tax Credit Office may ask you to tell them why you think you have main responsibility for that child.

If you can't agree who should get the Child Tax Credit, the Tax Credit Office will decide for you. You'll still keep getting paid while they make their decision.

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If your child lives outside the UK

You may be able to claim Child Tax Credit for your child if you live in the UK and any of the following apply:

  • you come from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and are working in the UK, or get contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • your child normally lives with you, but spends some time abroad, for example, they are studying elsewhere in the world and come home during school holidays
  • your partner is a Crown servant posted anywhere overseas and your child lives with them

If both you and your child live outside the UK, you can't normally claim tax credits. But special rules sometimes apply which mean you can still claim. For example, if your partner's a Crown servant posted overseas, and you've gone with them, or you're getting certain UK benefits or State Pension.

Your family doesn't live in the UK - can you get tax credits?

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

Countries in the 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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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 home
  • goes to live with someone else
  • dies
  • leaves education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit
  • starts training that's provided as part of their job
  • gets a paid job and are 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 claim benefits or tax credits in their own right

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.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Changes you should report as soon as possible

Tell the Tax Credit Office as soon as possible if:

  • you start looking after a child - you could lose out if you delay, as any payments for the child can only be backdated by up to one month
  • your child stays on in education or training that counts for Child Tax Credit after they reach 16 - otherwise you'll only get tax credits for them until 31 August after their 16th 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

If you don’t, you could lose out on an extra period of Child Tax Credit for your child, of up to 20 weeks.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Tax credits: changes you need to report and when

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More useful links

Help with childcare costs - do you qualify for extra tax credits?

Children with disabilities - can you get extra Child Tax Credit?

Check if you qualify for Child Benefit

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