All 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to 15 hours of free learning and childcare during school term time. There is no need to apply for these free hours.

Some early learning providers offer free hours in the school holidays, for example children could access 11 hours each week for up to 51 weeks of the year.

Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds may be able to get an extra 15 hours of free childcare during school term time, if they meet the criteria. Therefore you could get up to 30 hours of free childcare.

You can get free places from a range of learning and childcare providers including:

  • Childminders
  • Day nurseries
  • Pre-schools and playgroups
  • Schools with nursery provision

This is known as approved childcare.

When your child can start their free 15 hours place
If your childs' 3rd birthday is between Their free place can start from
1 January and 31 March Summer term - April
1 April and 31 August Autumn term - early September
1 September and 31 December Spring term - early January

Is my child eligible for 30 hours free childcare?

Yes, if the following applies to your family:

  • Both parents must be working or a sole parent must be working in a lone parent family
  • Each parent earns on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage
  • Each parent must have an annual income of less than £100,000
Application deadlines for 30 hours free childcare
If your childs' 3rd birthday is between Ideal time to apply Deadline for receiving the code Their free place can start from
1 January and 31 March January 31 March Summer term - April
1 April and 31 August June 31 August Autumn term - early September
1 September and 31 December October 31 December Spring term - early January

Apply for 30 hours free childcare

PaperclipTo complete your application you will need to create a childcare account and provide details about your child and family.

It is recommended that parents apply as soon as possible to make sure they receive their code in good time and before the deadline. Not all parents receive a code straight away; sometimes more information is required which can delay the application. See table above for deadlines.

Clock Completing this form takes 20 minutes

Apply online

After you have applied

Help with childcare costs

Find out what other Help you could get with childcare costs. .

Contact the Family Information Service (FIS)