1. Overview

You must register with Ofsted or a childminder agency if you want to be paid to look after children under 8 for more than 2 hours a day in England.

You don’t need to do anything if you’re exempt from registering.

You must apply to:


  • the Early Years Register to only look after children aged 5 and under
  • the Childcare Register to only look after children aged 5 to 7
  • both registers to look after children of any age under 8

The Early Years Register is for children from birth up to the 31 August after their fifth birthday. You must be on the Childcare Register to look after children after that, up to their eighth birthday.

You can get an unlimited fine, be sent to prison, or both if you provide childminding or daycare services without being registered.

You can register as an individual or as an organisation.

There are different rules for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Joining the voluntary part of the Childcare Register

You can apply to join the voluntary part of the Childcare Register if you want to do childcare for which registration isn’t compulsory, for example look after children aged 8 and above.

If you join the register voluntarily you’ll get a certificate. The parents of the children you care for may also be able to get other types of support, like help with childcare costs.

You’ll need to pay the registration fee and annual fee, and you can be inspected.

Who can register

To apply you must:

You must also fill in the ‘Health declaration booklet’ if you’re either:

  • applying as a childminder on the Early Years Register
  • working directly with children

Who can’t register

You can’t register if you’re disqualified, for example:

  • you’re barred from working with children
  • you’ve been refused registration in the past or had your registration cancelled (other than for not paying your annual fee)
  • you live in the same home as someone else who is disqualified

You may be able to apply to waive your disqualification, for example if you work for a provider who is exempt from registering.

How long it takes

Registering usually takes up to:

  • 12 weeks for childminders and home childcarers
  • 25 weeks for a childcare provider on domestic or non-domestic premises