The 30 hours extended entitlement is double the universal entitlement of 15 hours which is available for all three and four-year-olds. Working parents can use it as 30 hours per week during term time or 22.8 hours per week if you choose to ‘stretch’ your entitlement across 50 weeks of the year. (1140 hours in total). 

Check you are eligible and apply

The application process above is managed by HMRC. The Childcare Choices website also offers a comparison guide for all the ways you can reduce childcare costs. 

  • Your child must be at least 2 years and 6 months old before you will be able to make an application using the online system.

  • Once your child turns three, and you have confirmed your eligibility (within the deadline) with HMRC, you can start claiming from the beginning of the term following their birthday, i.e. 1 April, 1 September or 1 January

  • The deadline for receiving your HMRC Code is the last day of the month, before the new term starts. For example to access extended entitlement from 1 January 2018 the code you receive from HMRC must be dated on, or before, 31 December 2017. If you apply for and are eligible but are not issued with an HMRC Code by 31st December 2017, the extended funding entitlement will be available from the following term 1 April 2018.

  • If you are eligible you'll get an 11 digit eligibility code. You will need to keep this safe, as you will need to provide this to your childcare provider to access your place.

  • Every three months, you'll need to reconfirm that you're still eligible for the extended entitlement. HMRC will send a reminder four weeks before the deadline. You don't need to update your provider every time you reconfirm, however please notify your provider if you fall out of eligibility.

Choosing a childcare provider

You will need to choose an eligible childcare provider that has capacity to offer you a childcare place for the hours you need. Visit our looking for childcare  page where you can search for local provision and look at the types of childcare available.  

Please note: The Family Information Directory will be updated with details of which providers are participating in the 30 hour scheme and any limitations on the number of places or hours that they are able to provide, as this information becomes known to us. Not all providers will choose to participate in the scheme and others might choose to offer the entitlement in partnership, or collaboration with other providers in their area. 

Frequently asked questions

Please take a look at the national eligibility criteria and exceptions on gov.uk.

The check is managed by HMRC. If you are having difficulties, you should contact their Childcare Service helpline on 0300 123 4097 for further information and assistance regarding your application. 

Contact HMRC's Childcare Service on 0300 123 4097 for further information and assistance regarding your application or re-confirmation.

You will need to visit the gov.uk website and from this page click the large green button (apply or sign in to your account). You will be asked the age of your youngest child and will the use your Government Gateway ID to sign in with. From here you can access your childcare account details - click on secure messages to see a copy of the code you received.

If you have been unable to access Tax-Free Childcare through your childcare account for technical reasons, you may be able to claim compensation. Please visit Gov.uk to check if you are eligible for compensation and details on how to make a claim. 

As long as you don't claim more than 30 hours per week in total, or 1140 hours across the year if you stretch your claim, you can claim from both. Each child's funded hours can be split between up to three different providers (maximum of two sites in a single day). We can only fund Ofsted registered childcare providers (including registered childminders). We cannot fund any other types of care, including family arrangements. If a relative or friend looks after your child during the week, they can't be paid the free early years funding. 

If either or both of the child's parents stop work at any point, after a short grace period to support you to find a new job, the child will stop being eligible for the additional 15 hours childcare. This also applies to other changes to circumstances which affect eligibility.

Every three months, you'll need to reconfirm that you're still eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

Childcare providers have flexibility to choose how they offer the additional hours and term time only provision meets the requirements in the statutory guidance from the Department for Education. Although it may not meet your specific needs, you can explore alternative options for the provision of the whole entitlement across the year, or split the funded hours between more than one childcare provider, to create a more flexible package of childcare.

Free entitlement hours can cover a lunch time period.  When this occurs there may be a charge for lunch or snack.  Any charges must be agreed with you in advance. If you don’t want to pay this charge the provider must give you the choice to either bring a packed lunch, bring your own snack, or allow you to take your child out of the setting over the lunch period.

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