Applying for Universal Credit

Who can claim

You can apply as an individual or as a couple if you live with a partner. Your partner’s income and savings will be considered as part of the claim. (If you live with a partner you will receive a single payment that covers both of you.)

If you’re a full-time student or in training, you may be able to claim universal credit in some circumstances.

If you’re 16 or 17

You can claim universal credit in some circumstances.

This includes if you:

Set up your account online

You can use a smartphone, computer or tablet to set up your account.

Apply online on GOV.UK

If you don't have internet access you can use the computers at Jobcentre Plus.

Keep your username, password and answers to your security questions safe. You need them to access your account in the future.

Help with making your claim

You can get independent support to make your online claim from Citizens Advice. 

If you can't apply online or can't access your account once it's set up, you can:

Call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

When to apply

Apply for universal credit as soon as you need it because it takes at least 5 weeks to get your first payment. 

If you need to claim because you’ve lost your job, you should usually wait until after your last pay cheque. Otherwise, your final earnings count as income and your first universal credit payment could be reduced.

Your claim can be backdated for up to a month if you could have claimed earlier but you were prevented from doing so. For example, because of an illness or disability. 

Get everything you need

Gather this important information before you start your universal credit claim. Claims for Universal Credit can only be made online in one session. It is important to have all the relevant information to hand before you start the application process as claims cannot be saved for a later date:

Once you’ve completed your application, you may be asked for more information. You’ll be told what's needed and usually have 1 month to provide it.

Complete the claim online

You need to enter the information required on your 'to-do list' to complete the claim.

Most people find it takes up to an hour to do this. You have to complete the application in one go.

You need to complete the claim within 28 days of creating an account. Your entitlement won't start until you've completed the online form.

If you live with a partner, you both need to set up accounts and complete the online form. You can then link your accounts by entering a special code you’ll each be given.

Prove who you are

You need to confirm your identity as part of the application process. 

You may be able to do this online using a system called GOV.UK Verify.  

If you can't use GOV.UK Verify or choose not to, you can take the required ID in to a Jobcentre interview.  

If you don’t have ID, you might be able to prove who you are by answering security questions at Jobcentre Plus or getting someone else to confirm your identity. This is called a biographical check.

Book an interview

Once you've completed your online claim, you must arrange an interview at the Jobcentre, usually within 7 days.

The interview is with a work coach who will:

You have to sign a 'claimant commitment'. This sets out what you must do to get your full universal credit payment each month.

Make sure you arrange and attend your interview or your claim will be cancelled and you’ll have to re-apply.

What is the 'Claimant Commitment'?

When you make a claim for Universal Credit you will be required to sign the Claimant Commitment. This means in return for receiving Universal Credit you agree to certain conditions. For example, how long you will spend looking for work and the type of work you are looking for.