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30 Hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

to be eligible

To be eligible for 30 hours free childcare, you (or your partner if you have one) must have a National Insurance number and at least one of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship 
  • settled or pre-settled status,  or been living in the UK before 1 January 2021 with the right to reside
  • permission to access public funds - your UK residence card will tell you if you cannot do this

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £139 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). You and any partner must earn less than £100,000 a year.

If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.

How soon can I access the 30 hours?
You can get 30 hours free childcare from the term after your child turns 3 (the term after their 3rd birthday) and from the term after you have applied to the HMRC for your eligibility code. So, if your child turns 3 on 12 April, you will be able to get the 30 hours free childcare from September but only if you have applied for your code before 31 August.

If your child is already 3 and you apply for your code now, they will not able to get their 30 hours until the beginning of the next term:
  • If your child turns 3 between 1 January and 31 March – they can get a 30 hour place from April but only if you applied for your code before 31 March.
  • If your child turns 3 between 1 April and 31 August – they can get a 30 hour place from September but only if you applied for your code before 31 August.
  • If your child turns 3 between 1 September and 31 December – they can get a 30 hour place from January but only if you applied for your code before 31 December

What isn't covered?

The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.

watch the video to find out how to apply





Hear what a parent has to say about 30 hours