Skip to main content

This is a news story and may not be up to date. You can find the date it was published above the title. Our Tax Guides feature the latest up-to-date tax information and guidance. 

Published on 1 July 2024

Child Trust Funds: How to find a lost account - it’s easy and free!


Are you approaching the age of 18, or have you recently turned 18? You might have had a Child Trust Fund set up for you shortly after you were born. You are able to access this when you turn 18. Here we look at what Child Trust Funds are, and the various ways you can search for yours if you or your parents/guardians don’t have the details of it.

We also include a word of caution about using firms that might charge you a fee to find your Child Trust Fund.

Dark green road signs with the words 'LOST' and 'FOUND' written on them in white text against a blue sky background.

Content on this page:

What are Child Trust Funds?

Child trust funds (CTFs) are long-term tax-free savings accounts. They were funded by an initial £250 voucher from the government. Friends and family can make ongoing payments to the fund if they wish – creating a pot of cash that the child can access on turning 18. Junior ISAs replaced CTFs from January 2011.

You will probably have a CTF if:

  • you were born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011,
  • your parent or guardian made a child benefit claim for you, or you were being looked after by your local authority, and
  • you were living in the UK and not subject to immigration control

If you have a CTF, the funds are held for you in an account by an approved financial institution. We refer to these as the ‘CTF provider’ for the purposes of this article.

How do I access my CTF?

If your contact details are up to date, then the CTF provider should write to you shortly before your 18th birthday to let you know your options for accessing the money in your CTF. If you have moved and think your contact details might be out of date, then you or your parents/guardians (if you are still under 18) will need to contact the provider to update your details.

If you or your parents/guardians remember the name of the CTF provider, contact them directly. Try to give the CTF provider as much information as possible to help them locate the account.

Start by collecting any relevant information you might have, such as:

  • the unique reference number (found on the original CTF voucher),
  • your National Insurance number (you should get this shortly before you turn 16), and
  • any correspondence from the CTF provider.

How do I find my CTF provider?

Given that CTFs were set up many years ago, it is not uncommon for families to lose track of the account details, including the name of the CTF provider – but don’t panic! The money will be kept safe by the CTF provider.

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a person who had a CTF set up when they were born, then you might wish to take steps to find the information before the child turns 18. Alternatively, you might be a young person who wishes to find this information about your own CTF, either ahead of your 18th birthday or sometime after. You need to be at least 16 to trace the fund yourself, but you will not be able to access the money until you are 18.

Here are the steps you can take if you do not know where your CTF is held:

Use HMRC’s ‘Find a Child Trust Fund’ Tool

You can use HMRC’s online tool to locate the CTF for free. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the GOV.UK Child Trust Fund page.
  2. Click on the tool ‘Ask HMRC to find a Child Trust Fund’.
  3. Fill in the required information – such as your name, date of birth and National Insurance number. You can choose to either apply online or fill in the form on screen, then print and post it to HMRC.

After submitting your request, HMRC will process it and provide you with the details of the CTF provider if they are able to. This can take around three weeks.

This service can be used by a person over the age of 16 tracing their own account, or the parent or guardian of a person under the age of 18. If you are over 18 already, then you will have to access the service yourself to trace the account – your parent/ guardian cannot usually do this for you (but they can help you!).

The Share Foundation tracing service

Another option for tracing your CTF is to use the tracing service offered by The Share Foundation. This government-approved service is also completely free to use.

The service can be used by anyone over the age of 16 who thinks they might have a CTF. The service cannot be used by parents or guardians searching on their child’s behalf (even if they are still under 18). If you are trying to find details of a CTF on behalf of your child under the age of 18, you should use the HMRC tracing tool mentioned above.

A company has said it will find my CTF for me – can I use this service?

You should be careful to avoid these firms!

If you have no information to help you find your CTF, the government recommends that you use either HMRC’s CTF tracing tool or The Share Foundation’s tracing service, as discussed above. Both services are completely free and, if you have a CTF, they should be able to help. 

   If you use any other firm that advertises the service of finding a CTF, you will most likely have to pay a fee. This could amount to a large part of the money in your fund! So please be cautious if you see these firms advertising on social media. Avoid signing up to a service that you can easily access for free via HMRC or The Share Foundation.

I have found out who my CTF provider is – what next?

Once you know the name of the CTF provider (either by searching through old paperwork or by using a free tracing service) you can then contact the provider to either:

  • Update your details if you are under the age of 18 (so the provider knows how to contact you when you reach 18); or
  • If you are already over the age of 18, you can ask the provider about the options for accessing the money and/or transferring it into a new account.

If you do nothing, then the money will still be kept safe by the CTF provider until you contact them.

The CTF provider may require further verification documents to ensure you are authorised to access the information. They should be able to guide you through this process and let you know what they need.

We discuss more about the options for the money held in your CTF when you turn 18 in our guidance

Antonia Stokes
Technical officer

Contact us
Back to top