Universal credit: How to claim


How to apply for universal credit

Set up your account online

Apply online on GOV.UK

It's a good idea to complete the form at Jobcentre Plus. That way you can ask for help as you need it.

Find your nearest Jobcentre Plus

First, create an account. You need an email address to do this.

The form asks you to enter a username and password. Make sure you keep these details safe, so you can return to your application later if you don't finish it in one go.

Get everything you need

Gather this important information before you start your application:

  • National Insurance number – if you can't find it, ask for one to be sent to you
  • Bank details – you can also use a building society, credit union or Post Office account
  • Income – for example, from work, savings, other benefits or pensions
  • Family – if you have children, you'll need to know how much you pay for childcare
  • Housing – including how much your rent or mortgage is, any service charges and your landlord's contact details

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

People like your landlord can also be contacted to confirm your details, such as how much you pay for rent.

Complete the form online

Next, you’ll be taken to your to-do list to enter the information needed to complete your claim.

Most people find it takes at least an hour to finish the form. You’ll need to complete it within 28 days of creating an account.

If you’re applying as a couple, you’ll need to complete the form separately and then link your accounts by entering a special code you’ll each be given.

Once you've finished filling in a section of the application form, you won't be able to make changes to it. You can only do this after you've submitted the form by ringing the universal credit helpline.

Call 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm

If you can't apply online

You can apply over the phone if you can’t get online or you’re really struggling to complete the form.

If you can’t claim over the phone, go to the Jobcentre to see if you can apply through a face-to-face interview.

When to apply

After you’ve submitted your claim, it takes at least 5 weeks to receive your first payment. This means that in most cases, it’s best to apply for universal credit as soon as you think you’ll need it. You can apply for an advance if you haven’t got enough to live on.

If you’re making a claim because you’ve lost your job, you should usually wait until after you’ve had your last pay cheque. Otherwise, your first payment will be reduced in line with your earnings.

Getting your claim backdated 

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. Tell the work coach about this when you go for your first interview.

Prove who you are

You’ll need to confirm your identity as part of the application. There are few different ways you can do this:

  • online using a system called Verify – your details are checked against information held on record. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.
  • by taking ID to the Jobcentre – when you go for your universal credit interview, take documents such as a passport and two pieces of evidence such as bills or your birth certificate.

If you don’t have any identification, you might be able to prove who you are through a biographical check. This is where staff at the Jobcentre confirm your identity by asking you questions about your life, such as your partner’s full name or children’s date of birth.

Arrange an interview

When you’ve finished applying, you’ll be given a phone number to arrange a face-to-face interview at the Jobcentre.

Arrange your interview in 7 days or you’ll have to apply again.

Take the supporting information you used to apply and ID if you need to prove who you are.

Find out more about the universal credit interview on Citizens Advice


Last updated 10 Dec 2018 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.