30 hours free childcare eligibility

Eligibility for 30 hours of free childcare will be checked by HMRC. The Government is currently developing the eligibility checking system, which is expected to be available in spring 2017. In the meantime, you can sign up to request more information when it becomes available.

You and your child must both be eligible to apply.

Child eligibility

A child is entitled to free early years provision if:

  • they are over 3 years old
  • they are under compulsory school age
  • their parent(s) meets the necessary eligibility criteria.
Child's birthdayWhen you can claim
1 January to 31 March1 April following the child’s third birthday
1 April to 31 August1 September following the child’s third birthday
1 September to 31 December1 January following the child’s third birthday

Parent eligibility

You will be eligible if:

  • you (and your partner where applicable) are seeking the free childcare to allow you to work
  • you (and your partner where applicable) are in qualifying paid work. Each parent or the single parent in a lone parent household will need to expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or their national minimum wage rate over the next 3 months. This is £120 a week (or around £6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week (or  around £5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old. This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
  • you (or your partner where applicable) are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if you are on statutory sick leave.

Where you or both you and your partner receive benefits in connection with sickness or parenting, you are treated as though you are in paid work.

Where one parent (in a couple household) is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work, they are assessed as though they are in paid work.

Where you are in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. you are newly self-employed) you do not need to demonstrate that you meet the income criteria for 12 months in order to qualify for the extended entitlement.

You are not eligible if:

  • your household income is more than £100,000
  • you (or your partner where applicable) are a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and have no access to public funds).

If your circumstances change

If your circumstances change and you are no longer eligible, you will be allowed a 'grace period'. This means that you can keep your childcare for a short period. Once the grace period is over, you may be entitled to the universal 15 hour entitlement.