You can apply for tax-free childcare if:
If you have a partner, when you apply for tax-free childcare they need to be working and expect to earn, on average, £120 per week and less than £100,000 per year.
A person is your partner if you're:
If you're under 25, you should expect to earn at least £113 a week.
If you're under 24 or an apprentice, you should expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours, at the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage rate which applies to you.
Every 3 months, you'll need to reconfirm you're still eligible for tax-free childcare using your childcare service account. It's easy to do; you just tick a box to confirm that your details haven't changed. You'll be reminded to do this, 4 weeks before the reconfirmation deadline.
You can't apply for tax-free childcare for a child who is:
If you're adopting a child, you can apply for tax-free childcare when a court has made an adoption order.
You can apply for tax-free childcare if you're self-employed and have registered your business with HM Revenue and Customs.
You can use income from both your employment and self-employment to meet the minimum income.
Your first 12 months of self-employment is your start-up period. During this time, you don't have to earn the minimum £120 a week to be eligible for tax-free childcare .
You can average your self-employment income across the year to meet the minimum income criteria. You need to meet the minimum using just your self-employment income if you take this approach.
You can still apply for tax-free childcare if you're on paid:
You can also apply for tax-free childcare, if you're not working, but expect to start a new job in the next 14 days.
You may still be able to get tax-free childcare, if you or your partner doesn't work, and the non-working partner gets:
If you apply for tax-free childcare, you won't be able to get:
Your Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit payments will stop automatically if you successfully apply for tax-free childcare.
You should apply for tax-free childcare before asking Jobcentre Plus to stop your claim to Universal Credit, because there may be other reasons why you're not eligible for tax-free childcare.
If you're getting childcare vouchers, you need to tell your employer within 3 months of applying for tax-free childcare so that they can stop giving you childcare vouchers.
You can use the Childcare Calculator to work out if you'll be better off with tax-free childcare, before you apply and stop your tax credits, Universal Credit child vouchers.
You can still apply for tax-free childcare if you get:
You can't get tax-free childcare if you're getting support from the government through either a childcare grant or a bursary. For example:
You're eligible for tax-free childcare, if you leave the UK for:
You can apply for tax-free childcare for more than one child as part of a single application.
You can only get a childcare service account, if no one else holds an account for the same child.
In most cases, you'll be told instantly if your tax-free childcare application is successful.
If your application is unsuccessful we will tell you why you're not eligible.
Once you've successfully applied for your online account, you can:
How much you pay into your tax-free childcare, and when, is up to you. You can make one-off payments (for example, by debit card) or set-up a standing order to make regular payments into your tax-free childcare account.
For every £8 you pay in, the government automatically adds an extra £2 straight into your tax-free childcare account. You'll then be able to use the full balance to pay for your childcare.
You can pay up to 10 childcare providers from each tax-free childcare account. You'll need to make a separate payment for each eligible child.
Other people, such as family members and employers, can also pay into your tax-free childcare account.
When you use your tax-free childcare account to pay a childcare provider, it can take 2-3 working days for your money to reach them.
You can use tax-free childcare to pay for costs such as:
If your childcare provider is no longer registered or approved, HMRC will tell you. When they do, you'll no longer be able to pay that childcare provider using your tax-free childcare account.
You can continue to make payments into your tax-free childcare account and choose to pay a different childcare provider that has signed up to tax-free childcare .
If you're no longer eligible for tax-free childcare, you can still add money to your account but you won't receive any government contributions. You can still use the balance in your tax-free childcare account to pay for childcare.
If you no longer want to use your tax-free childcare account, you can withdraw your money. If you do, for every £8 you take out the UK government will also take back its £2 contribution.