You can get help paying for childcare if it’s provided by a:
- registered childminder, nanny, playscheme, nursery or club
- childminder or nanny with a registered childminder agency or childcare agency
- registered school
- home care worker working for a registered home care agency
This is known as ‘approved childcare’.
This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).
The rules about how childcare providers become approved are different depending on where you live.
You can check if a childcare provider is approved or search for one in:
- England - through Ofsted or the list of registered childminder agencies
- Wales - through Care Inspectorate Wales
- Scotland - through the Scottish Care Inspectorate
- Northern Ireland - through the local early years team register
If you want to claim free childcare if you’re working in England, the provider will also need to be on an Early Years Register with Ofsted or with a registered early years childminder agency - ask your provider about this.
Sign in to your childcare account
Sign in to your childcare account if you already get Tax-Free Childcare or free childcare if you’re working.
Childcare at school
You can only get help paying for care that is outside school hours, for example after school clubs or breakfast clubs.
You cannot get help paying for:
- your child’s compulsory education
- private lessons during school time (for example, private music lessons during school hours)
If your child has not started primary school, you can get help paying for childcare provided by a school. This includes nursery school fees.
Childcare provided by relatives
If you live in England or Scotland
You can only get Tax-Free Childcare to help pay for childcare provided by a relative (for example, a grandparent) if they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home.
You cannot claim for free childcare if you’re working for childcare provided by a relative (for example, a grandparent).
You cannot get help for childcare provided by your partner. This is not accepted as ‘approved childcare’.
If you live in England and get free childcare if you’re working, you can pay the childcare provider using Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.
If you live in Northern Ireland
You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if all of the following apply:
- they’re in a childcare approval scheme in Northern Ireland
- they care for your child outside your home
- they care for at least one other child that is not related to you
If you live in Wales
You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home.
Childcare provided by a foster carer in England only counts if they’re registered as a childcare provider. You can search for a registered childcare provider through Ofsted.