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Apply for Universal Credit

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You're expected to apply for Universal Credit online. Contact the Independent Welfare Changes Helpline if you can’t make an online claim yourself.

Independent Welfare Changes Helpline
Telephone: 0808 802 0020
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Calls to this number are free from a mobile or landline within the United Kingdom.

You should check if you’re eligible if you're unsure whether or not you can apply for Universal Credit.

Check you have everything you need to apply

Before you apply for Universal Credit, you’ll need to gather some information together. This will help make sure you only have to do the application once, and help you to get Universal Credit as quickly as possible if you’re eligible.

You'll need the following details for you and your partner:

  • your postcode
  • details of your bank, building society, credit union or Post Office card account (if you don’t have one of these, you'll need to open an account or use simple payment)
  • the type of accommodation you have, eg private rent, Housing Executive tenant or housing association tenant - make sure you check this before you apply
  • how much rent you pay - this can be found on your rent agreement, ask your landlord for a copy if you don’t have one
  • your landlord’s details - this can be found on your rent agreement, ask your landlord for a copy if you don’t have one
  • your landlord's phone number
  • details of any savings you have and any other ‘capital’ investments, eg shares or property that you don’t live in
  • details of any income that’s not from work, eg from a pension or insurance plan
  • details of how much you earn from work, eg recent payslips
  • how much you pay for childcare (if you want to claim for childcare costs)
  • details of any other benefits you’re getting, ie what benefit and how much you get

You’ll need evidence for all these details for when you go to your interview, so you’ll need to gather all the documents together, eg landlord agreement (or a letter from them with your rent amount on it), payslips, bank statements etc.

Apply online

You’ll need a mobile phone number and an email address.

You can find information on how to set up an email address on nidirect.

Apply online for Universal Credit through nidirect.

Where to get help with an online application

If you don’t have a computer at home, you can try accessing one free of charge at:

Not all locations will have computers - it's a good idea to call to check.

You could also ask a friend or relative if you can use their computer.

If you still can’t find a public place to use a computer, ask your nearest Jobcentre - they should be able to point you in the right direction.

At these centres you may also be able to get someone to sit with you and help you through your application. Not all centres will be able to provide this kind of support though, so you should call them to check.

Apply by phone or in person

You’ll usually need a reason for not being able to apply online, eg you can’t use a computer, or you have problems with reading or writing.

Contact the Universal Credit helpline if you need to apply by phone or in person.

Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 3017
Textphone: 0300 123 3018
Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm
Calls to these numbers can cost up to 10p a minute from a landline, and between 3p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay). It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract. When you call, you can ask them to call you back.

The application can take up to 40 minutes on the phone. Ask the person on the helpline to call you back so you don't have to pay for a long call.

Tell the helpline if an application will be difficult for you because of an illness or disability. You can ask for something to be changed to make it easier - this is called a ‘reasonable adjustment’, eg you can ask for a British Sign Language interpreter, or for your interview to be at a place where you can travel to easily.

If your application is unsuccessful

You’ll get a letter if your application is unsuccessful. You can:

Even if your application is successful, you should check if you’re eligible for any other benefits. You might also be eligible for Help with your rates.

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