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 - unless you’re exempt.

There are 2 registers. You must apply to:

  • the Early Years Register to look after children aged 5 and under
  • the Childcare Register to look after children aged 5 to 7
  • both registers to look after children of all ages

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 or be sent to prison or both if you provide childminding or daycare services without being registered.

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

You can register as an individual or as an organisation.

Joining the voluntary part of the Childcare Register

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

If you join the register voluntarily you’ll get a certificate, and the parents of the children you care for may be able to get other types of support, eg 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 joining the Early Years Register and you’re:

  • applying as a childminder
  • working directly with children
  • a manager in charge of the day-to-day running of childcare on domestic premises

You may be asked to do a health check if Ofsted thinks your health affects your ability to do your job.

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 place as someone else who is disqualified

You may be able to apply to waive your disqualification.

How long it takes

Registering usually takes up to:

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