Will our kids get child benefit on our return to Ireland?
Ask the Experts: We’re moving home with our Canadian-born children
My wife and I are planning to move home from Canada later this year with our two children, aged four and two. Will they qualify for child benefit?
My wife and I are planning to move home from Canada later this year with our two children, aged four and two. We are trying to work out our finances, to see how much we can afford to pay in rent - finances will be tight after we pay for flights, shipping for our belongings etc, for those first few months at least. The kids were both born here in Canada - they are Canadian citizens but also have Irish passports. We are finding it hard to get a definite answer on whether they will qualify for Child Benefit. Will we get it immediately on return, or is there a certain period we have to live in Ireland before we are entitled? What is the process of applying, and are there usually long delays? Thanks.
Answer: Sarah Owen, Crosscare Migrant Project
Child Benefit is a universal payment available to parents or guardians of children under the age of 16. It can also be paid for children who are 16 or 17 as long as they are in full-time education, full-time training or have a disability and cannot support themselves. It is paid by the Child Benefit Section of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, at a rate of € 140/month per child (or one-and-half times the normal monthly rate for each child in the case of twins, or double rate in the case of triplets and other multiple births).
Given the age of your children, you will be able to apply for Child Benefit as soon as you are living in Ireland and your children have been issued with PPS numbers. As Child Benefit is not means tested, you can receive this regardless of your income. You will however need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) in order to qualify. This condition means that you have to show that you are ‘resuming your residence’ in Ireland and prove that you intend to live here for the foreseeable future. It often causes confusion for Irish people returning to live in Ireland from abroad, which is why we put together this comprehensive guide to the Habitual Residence Condition which we would recommend you read through before you place your Child Benefit application.
Getting PPS numbers for your children
The first thing you’ll need to do is apply for PPS numbers for your children. These are unique reference numbers that you need to access public services in Ireland. Start by booking an appointment online at www.mywelfare.ie - to save time, do this before you come back for a date after your return.
On the day of your appointment you’ll need to go to your local PPSN Registration centre with your children and provide documentary evidence of identity and residence in Ireland, as well as evidence that you need a PPS for a transaction with a specified body (a copy of your Child Benefit form should provide evidence of this). Once your application is accepted, it normally takes about one week for the PPS numbers to be issued.
You and your wife probably have PPS numbers from before you left Ireland. If you can’t remember what these are, contact Client Identity Services on +353 17043281 to confirm.
Applying for Child Benefit
Applications for Child Benefit are normally made in the mother’s name. Your wife will need to complete a CB1 form along with a HRC1 form, both of which are available to download at www.welfare.ie. For HRC purposes, make sure you include any proof of your permanent return to Ireland as well as a cover letter detailing your circumstances - including information on your prior residence in Ireland, your residence abroad, the reasons for your return to Ireland, details of how you are resuming your residence since your return from Canada. See here for more on this.
Keep copies of everything for your records, and send the original copies by post to the Child Benefit Section, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Social Welfare Services Office, St Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, F92 T449. Application processing times can vary, however once approved payments are usually backdated to the application date, at the very least.
As your children are both under the age of six, they ought to be eligible to see a doctor for free under the GP visit card scheme - see here for details. You may also be able to avail of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme for your eldest child, and you can find out more about this here. You may also want to read this general information on returning to Ireland with children.
For more information about what to consider as part of your return to Ireland, take a look at our website www.migrantproject.ie. As well as this, you can check out the Global Irish website of Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade for lots of useful information on tax, employment and more specifically tailored to returning emigrants. You’ll also find information on variety of aspects of life in Ireland at the Citizens Information website - www.citizensinformation.ie.
Sarah Owen is the Irish Abroad Networking Officer with Crosscare Migrant Project. They are funded by the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide supports to Irish people emigrating from and returning to Ireland. Find out more at www.migrantproject.ie