When a baby is born overseas, one of the first things forces parents tend to do is apply for a birth certificate so they can obtain a passport. For British army families living in BATUS, this process can take several weeks or even months. Liz Ellwood, AFF’s Canada co-ordinator, has been finding out how the process works…

DUE to misinformation from HMRC, some of you have been waiting for your child’s passport to be issued before making an initial claim for UK child benefit. In some cases, the delays have been significant, resulting in families being financially disadvantaged. 

In one case, a family was aware that they could only claim three months of backdated contributions, but their passport application had been delayed. New mum Jo explained: “We were worried that we were losing out on money that we would otherwise be entitled to if we were in England.”

After contacting HMRC and speaking directly with the child benefit team, Liz established that there’s an exception and HMRC don’t need to see the baby’s passport if either parent is British armed forces serving overseas. You just need to send claim form CH2 downloadable from gov.uk, the original birth certificate and ensure details of the BFPO address are on the documentation.

Liz advised: “Start the child benefit application at the earliest opportunity as payments will be backdated to the date initial contact is made and logged.

“Even if some information is missing and the HMRC processing officer has to contact you, back payments will be made from that first date of contact. HMRC advises that it can take up to 21 days to review a claim, but it will decide as soon as possible once received.

“We will continue to monitor this issue and will actively encourage HMRC to establish an armed forces champion or dedicated team to better support  military families.”

Army spouse Kim, who has been helped by Liz, said: “Communicating with HMRC caused me stress as they misinformed me, asked for unnecessary information and were not fully educated on the armed forces. Thankfully I have finally been paid nearly £800 in child benefit.”

To find out more, contact Liz at canada@aff.org.uk

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