Child Benefit

Who can get it and how much you get, plus how to claim

Child Benefit is a monthly payment for anyone with parental responsibilities for children under the age of 16 (or up to 20 in full-time education). It's worth claiming as it can be worth over £17,000 (or more if you've two or more children). We've full detail on how it works, how to claim, and what happens to the Child Benefit payment if you or your partner earn more than £60,000 a year.  

What is Child Benefit?


Child Benefit is the Government's way of acknowledging the costs involved in raising a child. It's paid monthly to anyone responsible for children under the age of 16 (or under 20 if they stay in certain full-time education or unpaid training). 

How much is Child Benefit?

There are two weekly Child Benefit rates:

  • For a first-born or only child: £25.60
  • For additional children: £16.95 per child

This applies even for a multiple birth, so if you have twins born within minutes of each other, you'll still get different amounts for them.

If you've a bigger brood, the individual amount you get for your second and subsequent children will be lower, but the total will be higher.

You'll usually be paid every four weeks, on a Monday or Tuesday, and the whole amount must go into the same account. It can't be split between parents.

While it may not look like a lot of money broken down, it adds up. If you claim for one child until they're 16, you'll get more than £17,000 over their childhood.            

Who can get it?

If you (or your partner) earn £60,000 a year or under, you can claim the full entitlement of Child Benefit if the child you're applying for lives with you, or if you're paying at least the same weekly amount as the benefit towards looking after them. For example, you might pay for clothes, food, pocket money or birthday and Christmas gifts. It includes grandparents, adoptive parents and some foster parents.

If two people are responsible for the same child, only one will get the payment. Parents can decide between themselves who receives it – otherwise, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will decide. If the parents live apart, HMRC will give the Child Benefit to the parent the child lives with the most.

Earn more than £60,000? You might have to pay some or all of your Child Benefit back, but it's still worth claiming – see more info on this if you earn over £60,000

When can I claim Child Benefit? 

You can claim Child Benefit as soon as you've registered the birth or the child has come to live with you. It can take up to 16 weeks to process your claim and can only be backdated three months.

What happens when my child turns 16?

You may still be able to claim Child Benefit even after your child turns 16, provided they remain in approved full-time education or unpaid training. However, this ISN'T automatic.

When your child turns 16, HMRC will send you a letter asking if they're still in full-time education. You'll need to reply, or let HMRC know online, before 31 August after your child's 16th birthday to keep getting your Child Benefit payments.

Approved education includes A-levels, NVQs and home education, but not a university degree or BTEC Higher National Certificate qualifications. Approved training should be unpaid, and includes traineeships, but not training that is part of a job contract. 

Once your child's approved education or training comes to an end, benefit payments will come to an automatic stop, at the end of February, May, August or November (whichever is soonest).

You can also get Child Benefit for an extra 20 weeks in some circumstances (for example, if your child joins the armed forces or registers with their local careers service). 

Claiming Child Benefit can boost the amount you (or your partner) get in state pension

By claiming Child Benefit, you will also earn national insurance (NI) credits, which you need to receive the full state pension.

If you (or your partner) are not working, or earning less than £123 a week, claiming Child Benefit lets you earn NI credits you wouldn't otherwise have earned. So it's crucial you apply, even if one partner's income means you'll have to pay back some or all of the Child Benefit payment. New Child Benefit claims can currently only be backdated by three months, so apply ASAP.

Are you one of 200,000 couples losing out due to the 'wrong' partner claiming Child Benefit?

Only ONE parent named on the Child Benefit application form can get the NI years

It's also possible to transfer the NI credits between you and your partner. HMRC reckons 200,000 parents are losing out on credits because the partner with a higher income is registered for Child Benefit.

Often it should be the lower-earning member of the couple who applies, as if you are earning, or ever earn, under £123/wk, you'll get an NI credit you wouldn't have otherwise, potentially boosting your future state pension, which can add up to £10,000s over the years.

You can apply to transfer the credits over. The link takes you to a form that you'll need to fill in. You can either do it all online, or you can fill in the form online and then print and post it. 

It's sometimes even possible to backdate this, as David emailed. It's likely doing this boosted his wife's state pension by around £3,000 a year...

My wife has a low-paid job, so doesn't contribute to NI, leaving her state pension record with a 10-year gap. We'd been thinking about making voluntary contributions, then I read your Child Benefit article and realised as I'd been claiming it, I could transfer all the credits to my wife. She got 10 years' worth of free NI credits, which would have cost us approx £7,000. A huge weight off our minds. Thanks.

Are you (both) in work? If a family member looks after your children, they could also benefit. 

The NI credit can sometimes also be transferred to another family member who's looking after your children. For example, this can be a useful way for grandparents who have contributed to childcare to fill in any gaps in their NI record – see our grandparents' childcare credit guide. 

For more on how to check your NI record and boost your state pension, see NI contributions.

How do I claim Child Benefit?

You can claim Child Benefit as soon as you've registered the birth of your child, or a child comes to live with you if you're adopting or fostering. 

You'll have to fill in the 'CH2' form and send it to the Child Benefit office. You can do this either online, or download the form from and send it to the address on the form. You can also check if you're eligible and apply through the HMRC app

If you adopted your child, you need to send their original adoption certificate with the form. If you've lost it, you can order a new one.

If your child's birth was registered in Northern Ireland or outside the UK, you'll need to provide your child's original birth certificate. If you've lost the birth certificate, you can order a new one. If the birth was registered outside the UK, you'll also need to provide the passport used for your child to enter the UK.

You can claim at any age 

If you didn't claim Child Benefit when your child was born – either because you earned too much, or you didn't realise you were eligible – it's not too late. You can apply at any age up until 16 (or up to 20 if your child is in qualifying full-time education), following the process above. 

However, you will only be able to backdate any claim by three months, not the whole time you've been eligible to claim. 

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Income of £60,000+? Here's what you need to know

If you (or your partner) earn more than £60,000 a year, you will still get the full amount of Child Benefit, but you will have to pay some of it back. This is known as the 'high income Child Benefit tax charge'. 

The charge is tapered, so the more you earn over £60,000, the more you need to pay back.

- For every £200 you receive above £60,000, you need to pay back 1% of the maximum amount of Child Benefit you're entitled to. So, if you earn £70,000 a year, you'll pay back 50% (meaning you'll still get over £600 a year if you have one child).
- Once you hit £80,000 a year, the charge you'll pay back is 100% of your entitlement, meaning you won't get any benefit.

How do I know if I'll have to pay back some of the Child Benefit?

To work out how much you will have to pay back, you need to work out your 'adjusted net income'. This is your total taxable income before any personal allowances and less certain tax reliefs.

So you need to include things such as:

  • Salary
  • Profits if you're self-employed
  • Rental income
  • Some state benefits

And then deduct things such as:

  • Pension contributions (more on this below)
  • Trading losses, for example, trade loss relief or property loss relief
  • Charitable donations under Gift Aid

If you're not sure if you're liable to pay the tax charge or think you will but not sure how much, use the Government's Child Benefit Tax Calculator to see if, and how much, you have to pay. 

How do I pay the high income Child Benefit charge?

If you or your partner, or both of you, receive an annual income above £60,000, the one earning the most MUST fill in a self-assessment tax return – even if you're already paying tax via your employer in the pay-as-you-earn system.

You'll have to register for self-assessment and send in a tax return every year.

If you're not sure you've enough income to pay the charge, it's probably a good idea to register anyway. If you do need to pay the charge, and don't file a tax return, you could be fined up to 30% of what you owe by HMRC.

If you're claiming and worry you may need to pay the tax charge, you could keep the money in a separate savings account. That way, you'll be covered if you need to pay the charge and anything you get to keep is a bonus. You'll also earn interest on the money. See our Top savings accounts guide for more details.

Can I reduce the amount I pay in high income Child Benefit charges?

If your income is above £60,000 a year, you might still be able to reduce the impact of the charge. 


That's because it's based on your 'adjusted net income' (your total taxable income minus certain tax reliefs – for example, pension contributions and charity donations under Gift Aid). So, if you pay any tax-deductible expenses, these might take you below the threshold, or at least reduce how much you may have to pay back.


The main way you can minimise the charge is by upping your pension contributions. However, before considering doing this, see if your current pension contributions might already take your adjusted pay below £60,000. For example, if you're on £62,000 a year and contribute 5% of your salary into your pension, you won't have to pay any charge.

ALL types of pension can help to reduce your 'income', and therefore the amount you'd be liable to pay. This includes self-invested personal pensions, any additional voluntary contributions as well as any other contributions to workplace or personal pensions (and it doesn't matter if you were auto-enrolled or not). It does NOT include Lifetime ISAs, however, as they're not strictly pensions. 

How you calculate how much pension contribution to take away depends on whether it's going from your before-tax or after-tax pay: 

  • Employer pension scheme: If it goes straight from your before-tax ('gross') pay into a pension, for example an employer pension scheme, you can deduct that same gross amount. Usually the figure on your P60 will already reflect the deduction and is the amount to enter in the adjusted net income calculation with no further deduction. 

  • Personal pension: If it comes out of your after-tax ('net') pay, for example if you have a personal pension, you can deduct more – £100 for every £80 you pay in if you pay tax at 20%, and £133 for every £80 you pay in if you pay tax at 40%. 

Here's an example...

Peter earns £62,000 a year, but 7% of his pre-tax income (£4,340) is used to make pension contributions. To see if Peter needs to pay the tax charge, we need to deduct £4,340 from his actual salary – leaving £57,660. In this case, Peter's pension contributions take him below the threshold, so he won't need to pay the tax charge.

If Peter wasn't making any pension contributions, he'd have to pay the charge, as his before-tax income would be over the threshold. 

If your income is £80,000+, it's still worth registering for Child Benefit

If you or your partner have an income of £80,000 or more, it's still worthwhile filling in the Child Benefit form and registering your entitlement. You can opt out of actually receiving the Child Benefit payment itself (but keep entitlement to NI credits) when you apply. If you didn't do this when you applied, you can do it later on the HMRC app

Doing so has a couple of advantages:

  • You'll get national insurance (NI) credits, which count towards your state pension. Most need at least 35 years' worth of NI credits to receive the full state pension, so this is especially important if one of you is a non-earner or makes less than £123 a week (which is how much you need to earn to qualify for automatic NI credits).

  • It will ensure your child is registered to receive a NI number shortly before they turn 16.

Child Benefit FAQs

  • Can I add another child to an existing claim?

    If you're already claiming Child Benefit, you can add another child on to your claim by calling the Child Benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100 if: 

    • Your child is up to six months old
    • Your child was born in the UK
    • You live in England, Scotland or Wales and registered the birth there

    If you don't meet this criteria you'll have to apply for Child Benefit by using the CH2 form and send it to the Child Benefit office. If you're claiming for more than two children, you'll also need to send the 'additional children' form. 

  • Can I claim for someone else's child?

    If you contribute at least the weekly value of Child Benefit towards taking care of a child, you could claim for them. Being eligible to claim doesn't mean you'll be successful. If you and the parent claim, HMRC will decide who gets the payment – it will usually go to the person the child lives with the most.

    If you're taking care of the children of two parents who have died (or in certain circumstances where one surviving parent is unable to care for the child), you may also be eligible for guardian's allowance. It's £21.75 a week which you get on top of Child Benefit. 

    If your child goes to live with someone else, you'll continue to get Child Benefit for eight weeks (maybe longer if you pay towards taking care of your child), unless someone else also claims.

  • Can I claim if my child goes into care or hospital?

    If your child goes into care for more than eight weeks, or into hospital or a residential care home for more than 12 weeks, your Child Benefit may be affected. 

    You need to tell the Child Benefit office if this happens. You usually won't be able to get Child Benefit after the time limits above, but there are exceptions

  • What happens to my Child Benefit if my family splits up?

    If a family breaks up, the Child Benefit will usually go to the resident parent, in other words, the parent the child lives with the most. They'll get the normal rates. 

    If you've two children and one of them stays mostly with you, and the other stays mainly with your ex-partner, you can both claim and receive £25.60/week for each child. 

  • What happens to my Child Benefit if two families join together?

    If two families join together, the eldest child in the new family will qualify for the £25.60/week payment. If you've other children, you'll receive £16.95/week for each other child, regardless of whether they're your biological children or your partner's children.

  • Is Child Benefit subject to the benefit cap?

    Child Benefit is affected by the benefit cap. This sets the maximum yearly total you can get on benefits. What you get depends on where you live and your circumstances (for example, a single parent living with children is limited to £22,020 a year outside London but for the same situation it's capped at £25,323 in the capital). So if you're close to your limit and claim Child Benefit, your award may be capped, but there are exceptions

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