You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare, if your child is 3 to 4 years old.

The childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider
  • stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)

You can apply online for a childcare account to get a code for 30 hours to give to your provider.

Eligibility

Your eligibility depends on:

  • if you are working
  • how much you earn
  • your child’s circumstances
  • your nationality

You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

If you are working

You can usually get 30 hours’ free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:

  • in work
  • on sick leave or annual leave
  • on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave

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

If you are not currently working

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.

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

How much you earn

You’ll need to expect to earn a certain amount over the next 3 months. This is at least the national minimum wage or living wage for 16 hours a week on average.

For example, over the next 3 months you expect to earn at least £1,707.68 – the National Living Wage for people over 25.

If you have a partner, they’ll need to expect to earn at least this much too.

If you’re self-employed and do not expect to make enough profit in the next 3 months, you can use an average of how much you expect to make over the current tax year.

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

If you or your partner have an ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 in the current tax year you will not be eligible. This includes any bonuses you expect to get.

Your adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any personal allowances and minus things like Gift Aid.

Your partner

Your partner’s employment and income will affect your eligibility if you are:

  • married or in a civil partnership and live together
  • not married or in a civil partnership, but living together as though you are

Their employment and income will not affect your eligibility if they:

  • are or will be absent from your household for more than 6 months
  • are a prisoner

Your child

You will not be eligible if your child does not usually live with you.

If you foster your child, you cannot use the online application to get 30 hours free childcare. Speak to your social worker and your local authority if you want to apply.

Your nationality

You will not be eligible if you’re from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds.

Your partner can apply instead if they’re from:

  • the UK or EEA
  • outside the EEA and their UK residence card says they can access public funds

When to apply                                                                                                                

You can apply from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old.

Important Notes:

You can apply outside of these recommended dates but you might not receive your code in time.

You must have a valid code by the end of the month before a new term starts.

You have to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. If you apply more than 3 months before the term starts, you’ll have to reconfirm your eligibility in your account in order to keep your code valid.