Major change to child benefit system could see new parents get their first payments within days rather than weeks

For the first time, all eligible parents can now apply for child benefit online

(Image credit: Getty Images)

New parents can now apply for child benefit online, rather than filling out a paper form, in a move that will speed up how quickly they will receive the first payment.

Since child benefit was introduced 47 years ago, applications had to be made via a paper form which then had to be posted, with new parents having to wait up to 16 weeks for their first payment to be made. But now parents can apply via an online form, and the first payment could be made in as little as three days. This is great news for new parents trying to stretch their budgets to cover the cost of raising a child, especially when child benefit goes up in April.

Suzanne Newton, HMRC’s Interim Director General for Transformation, said: “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.”

How to apply for child benefit online

New parents can now apply for child benefit via an online form on the government website rather than filling out a paper form. You can claim child benefit from the day after a child’s birth has been registered. The online form takes about 10 minutes to complete and you could receive your first payment in as little as three days.

HM Revenue & Customs had started offering fully online applications to parents with children under six months old in spring 2023, but now digital applications are open to all eligible parents. Those with children over three months old who have not yet submitted their child benefit claim are urged to do so as soon as possible, as the benefit can be backdated by up to 12 weeks.

Mum wearing glasses looking down on newborn baby in her arms

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you apply, you will need to have the following information to hand:

  • The child’s birth certificate
  • Your bank details
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your partner’s National insurance number (if you have a partner).

You will need to create a Government Gateway account before you can apply for child benefit, but you can do this in advance of making your child benefit claim if you are looking to save time. While all eligible parents should now be able to submit a digital application, HMRC has stated that parents with children over six months’ old may be required to download and print their completed claim form and send it through the post.

When budgeting for your baby, it can be useful to also understand average childcare costs, the benefits you can claim while on maternity leave, and what happens to your pension while you're on maternity leave so you can manage your finances effectively.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.