HMRC launches online child benefit service

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has launched an online service for claiming child benefit for the first time. 

The department has created a new claims process on GOV.UK that takes 10 minutes to complete, with payment made in as little as three days. Prior to this, parents claiming child benefit have had to fill out a paper form, post it, and wait as long as 16 weeks for their first payment. This was the process for 47 years, the department said. 

All grown up 

HMRC started accepting fully digital claims for child benefit in May 2023 for families with children under 6 months old. They have now expanded the service so the majority of parents are able to claim child benefit online.

Once families have applied online, they can manage their child benefit using the HMRC app with no need to call, including reporting change in circumstances, seeing their last five Child Benefit payments, updating their bank details and viewing their proof of entitlement for child benefit.

Speaking about the new digital process at the recent Government TransformationJo Rowland-1 Summit, HMRC's then Director General for Transformation, Joanna Rowland, said: “We used to think that going digital was putting a PDF online, but to really go digital we had to rethink the whole system, including factors like how we get to proof of the child."

The new online process requires applicants to submit their bank details and national insurance number and the child’s birth certificate. Parents with adopted children or whose child’s birth was registered outside the UK can use the online process but will have to send additional information through the post. 

“Nowadays we live our lives around convenience; you can order something on your smartphone and it will be waiting for you at home by the time you're back. Public services need to follow suit,” Rowland said. “We've got to think about how citizens live and make our services fit with their lifestyle, not with our processes.”

To help customers get to grips with the new digital service, HMRC have provided detailed guidance on how to apply for child benefit online. 

Suzanne Newton, HMRC’s Interim Director General for Transformation, commented on the impact of the new service: "We know how much parents and guardians rely on child benefit to help with essential costs. We’ve made it far easier and quicker for families to claim this crucial help by making it digital.

"Parents and guardians can apply online when it suits them and be paid within days, not weeks. Go to GOV.UK and search ‘Claim Child Benefit online’ and follow the simple steps to apply."

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