Tax-Free Childcare to open to children under 6

17 November 2017

From Friday 24 November 2017 Tax-Free Childcare will be available to qualifying working parents in England whose youngest child is under 6 or who has their 6th birthday on that day.

Parents can apply online through the childcare service which can be accessed via the Childcare Choices website.


Geographical extent - Although the service applies only to parents in England, it includes direct links to similar services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


HMRC started rolling out the childcare service in April this year; a single website through which parents can apply for both 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare, which - for the first time - is available to self-employed parents, and all qualifying working parents regardless of their employer.

More than 275,000 parents have an open childcare account and of these, more than 216,000 parents received an eligibility code for 30 hours free childcare for September. However, while the majority of parents used the childcare service without significant problems, HMRC recognises that over the summer some parents didn’t receive the intended level of service when using the website. HMRC has now made significant improvements.


Over the coming months, the childcare service will gradually open to parents of older children, while further improvements continue to be made to the system. This means HMRC can manage the volume of applications going through the service, so parents continue to receive a better experience and prompt eligibility responses when they apply.

Almost all parents receive a response within five working days, and most get their decision instantly.

All eligible parents will be able to apply by the end of March 2018.


Apply now to start a place next term

Your child can start in their childcare place the term after they turn 3 years old and have received a valid 30 hours code, whichever is later. Term start dates are 1st September, 1st January and 1st April. You may get asked for further information, HM Government strongly advise you to apply before 30 November. To keep your 30 hours free childcare place you need to check your details are up to date every 3 months.