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Tax-free childcare

Reconfirm your eligibility

If you receive Tax-Free Childcare, you must reconfirm your eligibility and check your details are up to date every 3 months.

If you receive both Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare, you can reconfirm for both at the same time.

To do this, you will need to log in to your Childcare account:

Log in to your GOV.UK childcare account

What is Tax-Free Childcare?

Tax-Free Childcare is a government scheme to help working parents with childcare costs.

For every £8 you pay in, the government will pay in an extra £2. You can get up to £2000 per child per year towards their childcare costs, or £4000 for disabled children, which is separate from funded entitlements. 

The offer is available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children who are disabled.

Am I eligible?

To qualify, both you and your partner (if you have one) will have to be in work and each expecting to earn at least £120 a week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) and not more than £100,000 each year.

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

Find out more about Tax-Free Childcare eligibility at GOV.UK: Tax-Free Childcare

You can't claim Tax-free childcare at the same time as claiming Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers, but you can get it with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.

How can I use Tax-Free Childcare?

Tax-free childcare can be used to pay for:

  • Pre schools
  • Registered childminders
  • Day nurseries
  • School based care (that is paid for, such as after-school clubs)

Parents can set up an online childcare account, which they can use to pay for their childcare directly. Childcare providers can receive payments from both Tax-free childcare and childcare vouchers.

How do I apply?

You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare online:

Apply for Tax-Free Childcare

To apply, you will need your details (and your partners if you have one) including your:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) if you are self-employed.

How long does it take to make a payment?

Most payments will now take 24 hours.

If you make your initial desposit by bank transfer:

  • it will normally take 2 hours for the payment to reach your childcare account
  • HMRC will add any Government top up automatically
  • you can use the money to pay your provider as soon as it shows available funds

If you make a payment to your provider:

  • before 2.30pm it will reach the provider's account the same day
  • after 2.30pm, weekends or bank holidays, it will reach the provider's account the next working day.

Payments over £2,000 will take up to 3 working days to reach the provider's account.

How does Tax-free childcare work for childcare providers?

Childcare providers can sign up now for Tax-free childcare: 

GOV.UK: Childcare Tax Service

When signing up, childcare providers will need:

  • The unique code included in their invitation letter (invitations where sent out in September / October 2017)
  • The bank account details for the account they wish to receive payments into
  • Their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number - or their National Insurance number, if they don't have a UTR

In order to sign up, childcare providers must first be registered or approved, with a regulating body. 

Registering with a regulator can take up to 12 weeks, so if you are a childcare provider and haven't registered yet, you should act now.

Parents will soon be able to search for childcare providers who have signed up using an online tool. Payments will be made directly from a parent's online account and will automatically include the government's contribution, arriving in one simple transaction for providers.

Changes to the payment reference number for providers

Payment transactions now appear on a provider's bank statement as 'National Savings A'. It should also have the child's:

  • childcare reference number - this is made up of 4 letters and 5 numbers. The letters are the child's first initial and first 3 letters of their name, eg AJON12345
  • Tax-Free Childcare account number - this is 13 digits long, begins with 1100 and should have the letters TFC, eg TFC 110012345678

If you are a childcare provider and the payment information is displaying differently and you are unable to identify a parent's payment, plese call the Childcare Service Helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Further information

For more information on current guidance being offered to childcare providers, see GOV.UK: Childcare Tax Service

For the top 10 things parents should know about Tax-free childcare, see 10 things parents should know about Tax-free childcare

For further support or information about the Tax-free childcare service, please contact HMRC at

Childcare Service compensation

If you have been unable to access Tax-free childcare through your childcare account for technical reasons, you may be able to claim compensation and get the government top-up as a one-off payment. 

You may also be eligible for a refund for any costs caused by the service not working as it should, mistakes or reasonable delays.

For information on eligibility and how to make a claim, visit GOV.UK: Childcare Service compensation


Help paying for childcare

Tax-Free Childcare, Universal Credit or Tax Credits can be used with 15 hours free childcare or 30 hours free childcare.

Please speak to your childcare provider about any additional charges that may apply.

For more information please visit:

Childcare Choices

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    Tyne & Wear
    United Kingdom
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