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.
- must be with an approved childcare provider
- stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)
You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.
You can apply online for a childcare account to get a code for 30 hours to give to your provider.
Your eligibility depends on:
- if you are working
- how much you earn
- your child’s circumstances
- your nationality
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 are working
You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:
- in work
- on sick leave or annual leave
- on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave
If you’re on parental leave, you cannot apply for the child you’re on leave for.
If you are not currently working
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.
You can apply if you’re starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.
How much you earn
You’ll need to expect to earn a certain amount over the next 3 months. This is at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average.
For example, over the next 3 months you expect to earn at least £1,707.68 - the National Living Wage for people over 25.
If you have a partner, they’ll need to expect to earn at least this much too.
If you’re self-employed and do not expect to make enough profit in the next 3 months, you can use an average of how much you expect to make over the current tax year.
This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
If you or your partner have an ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 in the current tax year you will not be eligible. This includes any bonuses you expect to get.
Your adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any personal allowances and minus things like Gift Aid.
Your partner’s employment and income will affect your eligibility if you are:
- married or in a civil partnership and live together
- not married or in a civil partnership, but living together as though you are
Their employment and income will not affect your eligibility if they:
- are or will be absent from your household for more than 6 months
- are a prisoner
You will not be eligible if your child does not usually live with you.
If you foster your child, you cannot use the online application to get 30 hours free childcare. Speak to your social worker and your local authority if you want to apply.
You will not be eligible if you’re from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds.
Your partner can apply instead if they’re from:
- the UK or EEA
- outside the EEA and their UK residence card says they can access public funds
When to apply
You can apply from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old.
|When your child turns 3
||When they can get 30 hours from
||Recommended time to apply
|1 September to 31 December
||15 October to 30 November
|1 January to 31 March
||15 January to 28 February
|1 April to 31 August
||15 June to 31 July
You can apply outside of these recommended dates but you might not receive your code in time.
You must have a valid code by the end of the month before a new term starts.
You have to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. If you apply more than 3 months before the term starts, you’ll have to reconfirm your eligibility in your account in order to keep your code valid.
Apply online for 30 hours free childcare.
You and your partner cannot both have accounts for the same child.
If you are applying for 30 hours and someone else already claims Tax-Free Childcare for that child, your application will be unsuccessful.
If you are separated
You and your ex-partner need to decide who should apply if you are jointly responsible for your child.
If you cannot decide, both of you must apply separately and HMRC will decide who gets a childcare account.