The main purpose of child benefit and the child tax credit is to support families in the UK. Consequently, the rules for these benefits generally do not provide for them to be paid in respect of children who live abroad.
Nevertheless, both child benefit and the child tax credit are family benefits under EC Regulation 883/2004. This regulation protects the social security rights of nationals of all member states of the European economic area (EEA), including the UK, and Switzerland when they exercise their rights of free movement under EU law.
As at 31 March 2015, there were 19,579 ongoing child benefit awards under EC Regulation 883/2004 in respect of 32,408 children living in another member state and 7,026 ongoing child tax credit awards under the regulation in respect of 11,762 children living in another member state.
The Government is working with European partners to renegotiate the relevant social security co-ordination rules to remove the requirement to pay Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in respect of children outside the UK.