Register as a childminder: quick guide

How to become an Ofsted registered childminder, what you need to do and what it costs.

Check if you need to register

If you want to be a childminder, you might need to register with Ofsted or a childminding agency.

You need to register if you’re a childminder paid to look after children under 8 for more than 2 hours a day in your home.

You don’t need to register if you:

  • look after children aged 8 or over
  • look after children of any age for under 2 hours a day
  • are the child’s parent or relative
  • are babysitting children between 6pm and 2am
  • look after children in their own home (this means you are a nanny)

Read a full list of situations where you don’t have to register.

Different rules apply if you want to register as a nanny.

Registering if you don’t need to

Even if it’s not a legal requirement for you, there are advantages to being registered. You could get a childcare business grant to help with setting-up costs if you apply within 3 months of registering.

Registration also means parents can apply for help with childcare costs. This should make it easier for you to find work.

What to register as on the form

You will need to say on your form what type of childcare you intend to provide.

You should register as a ‘childminder’ unless you work in someone’s home with 3 or more other people (these can be childminders or assistants). If this is the case, register as ‘childcare on domestic premises’.

If you plan to work some days with up to 2 other people, and on other days with 3 people or more, you need to register with us as both ‘childminder’ and ‘childcare on domestic premises’.

Before you register

In no particular order, you will need to do the following:

  1. Get a criminal records check (enhanced DBS check). If you are working in your own home, anyone over 16 who lives with you will also need one. It usually takes up to 6 weeks but it can sometimes take longer. You will get a certificate in the post. There’s more information about this in our criminal records check guide.
  2. Fill in the health declaration form and get it signed by your GP. Your GP may charge for this.
  3. Complete a first aid qualification for people who work with children. You need to do a full paediatric first aid course if you will be working with children under 5. Ask your local council or look online for courses in your area.
  4. Find out if you need any training. You don’t have to do a particular course, but if you’ll be looking after children under 5 you need to show Ofsted you can meet the requirements of the early years foundation stage. For more information, contact your local council. Organisations like the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) or Childminding UK can also help.

Which register to apply to

There are 2 registers:

  • the Early Years Register to look after children up to age 5 (from birth to 31 August after their 5th birthday)
  • the Childcare Register to look after children aged 5 to 7

Join both registers if you plan to look after children of all ages up to 8.

If you want to register but aren’t legally required to, apply to join the voluntary part of the Childcare Register.

Registration fees

Registration fees are annual – you will need to pay them each year.

Fees for childminders

To join both the Early Years Register and the Childcare Register, the total cost is £35.

If you’re only joining the Childcare Register, it costs £103.

Fees for childcare on domestic premises

It costs £220 in total to join both registers. If you are only joining the Childcare Register it costs £114.

Other costs

The enhanced DBS check for criminal records costs £52.50. Childminders need an enhanced DBS check for themselves and for everyone aged 16 and over who lives or works with them. Ofsted recommends signing up to the DBS update service – this costs £13 each year but keeps your DBS up to date.

You’ll need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office if you keep any personal information electronically – eg if you use a digital camera to take photos of the children you look after. This costs £35.

The health declaration has to be signed by your GP, who may charge you for this. There are some other costs to take into account, such as equipment, business insurance, any courses you need (eg first aid) and membership bodies you want to join. These will depend on the cost of services in your area. You might get support from your local council for these.

How to apply

  1. Register on Ofsted Online and log in.
  2. Choose the form for the register you need. If you are applying to both registers, you only need to fill in the Early Years Register form (tick the box to apply to both registers).

What happens after you apply

Ofsted will check your information, including references and checks on anyone else living or working in your home. They will also check with social services.

If you will be looking after children under 5, we will ring you to arrange a registration visit.

You will receive a reference number, or URN, by post.

We aim to register childminders within 12 weeks of sending you the URN, but it can take longer in some situations.

What to expect at the registration visit

The inspector will check:

  • your identity and qualifications, including evidence that you have completed first aid training and understand the early years foundation stage
  • that your premises, equipment and toys are safe and suitable for children
  • that you understand about risk assessment, and that you have considered the safety and security of all the places children have access to
  • that you understand what’s involved in looking after several children at the same time, in the age range you will care for

If English is not your first language, you must be able to speak it well enough to teach children in English, call emergency services, keep written records and understand instructions, such as labels for medication.

At the end of the visit the inspector will give feedback and say whether they will recommend you ‘suitable’ or ‘not suitable’ for registration. You can withdraw your application at this stage if you think it is going to be refused.

After the registration visit

If your application is approved you will get a certificate of registration. We will publish details about your registration on the Ofsted reports website. You can ask for your personal details (eg name or address) not to be published.

If your application is refused, Ofsted will send you a letter called a ‘notice of intention’. If you’re turned down you will be disqualified from applying to be a childminder again in the future.

Find out how to apply to overturn disqualification.

Telling Ofsted about changes that affect your childcare

By law, you must keep your details up to date and report any changes within 14 days. Use Ofsted Online to report changes to:

  • where you are working
  • your contact details
  • the staff who work with you or people aged 16 or over in your home (if you work at home)
  • childcare hours

Further information

Contact us if you have any questions about registration


Phone: 0300 123 1231 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm)

Or write to:

Ofsted Team Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

For more information about becoming a childminder, and to find out what support is available, contact your local council.

Published 26 May 2017