Tax-Free childcare

You can get up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare.

If you get Tax-Free Childcare, the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider via an online account.

You can use it to pay for approved childcare.

You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.

If you’ve already registered, you can sign in to your childcare account.

Eligibility

You and your partner

You can usually get Tax-Free Childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:

  • in work - or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave
  • each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week - this is £125.28 if you’re 25 or over

This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.

You’re not eligible if:

  • your child does not usually live with you
  • the child is your foster child
  • either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000
  • you’re from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds

If you’re not currently working

You can apply if you’re starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.

If you’re on parental leave, you cannot apply for the child you’re on leave for.

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.

Your child

Your child must be 11 or under and usually live with you. They stop being eligible on 1 September after their 11th birthday.

Adopted children are eligible, but foster children are not.

If your child is disabled you may get up to £4,000 a year until they’re 17. They’re eligible for this if they:

  • get Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • are registered as blind or severely sight-impaired

Your childcare provider

Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme before you can pay them and benefit from Tax-Free Childcare.

Check with your provider to see if they’re signed up.

If you get tax credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers

You cannot get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.

Which scheme you’re better off with depends on your situation. Use the childcare calculator to work out which type of support is best for you.

When support will stop

If you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare:

  • Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit stops straight away
  • childcare vouchers can continue for up to 90 days

You should apply for Tax-Free Childcare before cancelling your Universal Credit claim.

Apply

Apply online for Tax-Free childcare

  1. Step 1 Check you're eligible

  2. Step 2 Check if you'll be better off

    Your tax credits will stop immediately if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare. You will also have to cancel your Universal Credit and childcare vouchers.

    Before you apply, check if it's the right option for you.

    1. Check if you'll be better off
  3. Step 3 Apply for Tax-Free Childcare

    There's one application for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare. As part of your application, you will find out if you can get both.

    1. Apply online for Tax-Free Childcare

    If you're eligible you'll get a childcare account. You can use this to pay your childcare provider.

  4. Step 4 Pay your childcare provider

  5. and Reconfirm your details every 3 months

    You must confirm your details are up to date every 3 months.

    1. Sign into your childcare account to confirm your details