Initial claims

The rules on initial claims for universal credit are set out in the Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 (SI.No.380/2013).

NB: See below for equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland.

Making a claim

​Regulation 8 and Schedule 2 to SI.No.380/2013

Regulation 8 sets out the methods by which a claim must be made including that, unless the Secretary of State agrees to accept a telephone claim, the claim must be made through an ‘electronic communication’ in accordance with Schedule 2.

Claims by members of a couple

​Regulation 3 of SI.No.376/2013 and regulation 9 of SI.No.380/2013

Set out the rules governing claims from members of a couple, including when claims can be made by a couple without both of them meeting the basic conditions, where they may make a claim as a single person, and where the claimant is a member of a polygamous marriage.

Date of claim

​Regulation 10 of SI.No.380/2013

Sets out the rules on the date when a universal credit claim is considered to have been made.

Time within which a claim must be made

​Regulation 26 of SI.No.380/2013

Sets out the circumstances in which universal credit can be backdated for up to one month.

Amendment of claim

Regulation 30 of SI.No.380/2013

Allows for a claim to be amended at any time before a determination is made.

Withdrawal of claim

Regulation 31 of SI.No.380/2013

Allows for a claim to be withdrawn at any time before a determination is made.

Advance claims

Regulation 32 of SI.No.380/2013

Allows for an advance claim to be made up to a month before conditions of entitlement are met.

Treated as reclaiming after nil award

Regulation 32A of SI.No.380/2013

​Inserted by regulation 3 of SI.No.522/2020 from 21 May 2020, regulation 32A makes provision for treating a claimant as claiming universal credit without a claim for up to five assessment periods after an assessment period where entitlement ceased on account of excess income.

Attendance in person

Regulation 35 of SI.No.380/2013

Provides that a claimant must attend in person to provide evidence and information in connection with a claim.

Duration of awards

Regulation 36 of SI.No.380/2013

Provides that a claim is treated as being made for an indefinite period and that an award is also made for an indefinite period.

Evidence and information

Regulation 37 of SI.No.380/2013

Sets out the rules in relation to the duty on a claimant to provide evidence and information in relation to a claim.

In Northern Ireland, SR.No.220/2016, SR.No.216/2016 and SR.No.85/2020 make provision in relation to payments that is largely equivalent to that in Great Britain.

Further explanation of the legislation is set out in guidance. Please note, however, guidance is not binding and cannot override the legislation.

Advice for decision making

Chapter A2

Provides guidance to decision makers on claims for universal credit.

DWP guidance from

New claims

​Guidance to DWP staff on issues including backdating, advances, advance claims, claims and couples forming / separating and mixed-age couples.

DWP guidance from


​Guidance to DWP staff on the limited circumstances when a claim can be backdated.

Case law​ provides further interpretation of the legislation and establishes legal precedent.

Upper Tribunal

[2023] UKUT 65 (AAC)

Tribunal was entitled to decide that universal credit computer system was not ‘inoperative’ at beginning of Covid-19 pandemic and so did not prevent claimant from making a claim

Upper Tribunal

[2023] UKUT 9 (AAC)

Tribunal hearing appeal against HMRC decision to end tax credits following universal credit claim is limited to determining whether SSWP is in fact satisfied that claimant meets basic conditions of entitlement to universal credit.

Upper Tribunal

[2022] UKUT 350 (AAC)

Tribunal hearing appeal against HMRC decision to terminate tax credits following claim for universal credit did not have jurisdiction to consider whether DWP was entitled to be satisfied that basic universal credit conditions were met.

Upper Tribunal

[2022] UKUT 332 (AAC)

When considering a backdating request for universal credit, tribunal should consider whether original claim included an ‘implied claim’ for a past period

Upper Tribunal

[2022] UKUT 242 (AAC)

​Panel of three judges holds that universal credit claimants have the right to seek backdating of their claim after the decision to award benefit has been made

Upper Tribunal

[2022] UKUT 189 (AAC)

DWP entitled to withhold payment of universal credit until a national insurance number has been allocated

Upper Tribunal

[2022] UKUT 10 (AAC)

Reference in transition regulations to universal credit basic condition of being ‘in Great Britain’ under section 4(1)(c) of Welfare Reform Act 2012 is freestanding and not subject to qualifications in regulations authorised by Act

Upper Tribunal

[2022] UKUT 9 (AAC)

Universal credit claim could not be withdrawn and, even if it could, that would not affect transition from housing benefit to universal credit

Upper Tribunal

[2020] UKUT 309 (AAC)

Consideration of what amounts to ‘late notification of expiry of entitlement’ for universal credit backdating purposes, where claimant advised he could no longer claim housing benefit after moving to new local authority area

Upper Tribunal

[2020] UKUT 239 (AAC)

Whether a single tax credits claimant could avoid prohibition on claiming tax credits in a universal credit full-service area by relying on previous year’s joint award.

Upper Tribunal

[2020] UKUT 109 (AAC)

Appeal rights where a universal credit claim has been ‘closed’ for non-attendance at a jobcentre interview / whether appealable decision is subject to requirement for mandatory reconsideration

Upper Tribunal

[2020] UKUT 108 (AAC)

Whether universal credit date of claim can be fixed at point when claimant starts or saves progress entering online claim information rather than when completed claim is submitted

Upper Tribunal

[2018] UKUT 306 (AAC)

Withdrawal of universal credit claim did not mean that it retrospectively ceased to exist for purposes of ending tax credit award.

Upper Tribunal

[2017] UKUT 131 (AAC)

Poorly drafted ‘gateway’ questions on the universal credit claim form do not amount to the computer system being ‘inoperative’.