30 hours free childcare

You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare (1,140 hours per year, which you can choose how you take) if your child is 3 to 4 years old.

The childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider
  • stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)

There are different schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you’re eligible for the extra hours, you sign up online to get a code to give to your childcare provider to reserve your place. You’ll get the extra hours once the next term starts.

If you’ve already registered, you can sign in to your childcare account.

Eligibility

You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:

  • in work - or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave
  • each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week - this is £125.28 if you’re over 25

This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.

You’re not eligible if:

  • your child does not usually live with you
  • the child is your foster child
  • either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000
  • you’re from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds

You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

If you cannot work

You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

Apply

Apply online for 30 hours free childcare

  1. Step 1 Check you're eligible

  2. Step 2 Check if you'll be better off

    Getting 30 hours free childcare might affect how much you get in tax credits.

    1. Check if you’ll be better off
  3. Step 3 Apply for 30 hours free childcare

    There's one application for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare. As part of your application, you will find out if you can get both.

    1. Apply online

    If you're eligible you'll get a childcare account and a code for 30 hours free childcare.

  4. Step 4 Give your code to your childcare provider

    Give the code in your childcare account to your provider along with:

    • your National Insurance number
    • your child's date of birth
  5. Step 5 Reconfirm your details every 3 months

    You must confirm your details are up to date every 3 months or your code will expire.

    1. Sign in to your childcare account to confirm your details