Tax-Free Childcare during coronavirus
These flexibilities may affect you if you're applying for or already claiming Tax-Free Childcare. This includes parents who:
- are now not able to work
- are now working less due to coronavirus
- have missed the deadline to apply for this term
Contact the HMRC childcare service helpline if you have any questions.
If you use Tax-Free Childcare you can continue to pay money into your online childcare account and receive top ups form the government, even if you aren't using childcare at the moment.
Apply through GOV.UK
If eligible, apply for Tax-Free Childcare through the Childcare Service on GOV.UK. If you are eligible for 30 hours, you can apply through the same application.
Sign in to your childcare account
If you've already registered, sign in to your childcare account.
Who can apply for Tax-Free Childcare
If you and your partner (if you have one) work full or part-time hours, you could get Tax-Free Childcare. You can claim for children up to 12 years old, or up to 17 if they have a disability.
If you don't work, you could still be eligible if you get either one of these:
- employment and support allowance (ESA): this used to be called Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
- Carer's Allowance
Maternity, paternity or adoption leave
You can't apply for a child you're on maternity, paternity or adoption leave for, unless you're starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days. If you have other eligible children, you could apply or continue to claim for them while you're on parental leave for another child.
Tax-Free Childcare is replacing Childcare Vouchers which is no longer available for new applicants.
You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours funded childcare if you're eligible for both.
Check your eligibility on the GOV.UK Tax-Free Childcare page.
Watch this short video from the Department for Education (DfE) showing how to apply for 30 hours childcare and Tax-Free Childcare:
What you will get with Tax-Free Childcare
When you apply for Tax-Free Childcare you'll set up an online childcare account. For every £8 you pay into the account, the government will add £2, or £4 for children with a disability. The government will pay up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 per year for children with a disability.
You will use this account to pay your childcare provider.
How and when to apply for Tax-Free Childcare
You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare any time you think you could be eligible.
You can also apply if you're not eligible because you're not working, but are due to start work within the next 31 days.
Reconfirm your eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare
You must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months if you're claiming Tax-Free Childcare. You must do this 3 months from the date you applied, even if you haven't started using your account.
When your Tax-Free Childcare starts
You start receiving Tax-Free Childcare once you:
- meet the eligibility criteria
- have children under 12 years old, or under 17 years old if they have a disability
- have set up your account.
You can still set up an account to start saving, even if you haven't started using childcare yet.
What types of childcare you can use with Tax-Free Childcare funding
You can only use the Tax-Free Childcare to pay for registered or approved childcare providers. This includes:
- registered childminders, nurseries and pre-schools
- registered after-school clubs and playschemes
- registered schools
- home care workers working for a registered home care agency
- nannies who join the voluntary register
Search for childcare
Search our Family Information Directory to find childcare providers and ask them if they are signed up to accept Tax-Free Childcare payments.
Using Tax-Free Childcare when a relative looks after your child
You can only pay a relative who provides your childcare from your Tax-Free Childcare account if they're:
- a registered or approved childcare provider
- caring for your child away from your home
A relative means the child's:
- aunt or uncle
- brother or sister
Can you claim other funding at the same time?
You can claim other funding schemes at the same time as claiming Tax-Free Childcare if you're eligible, including:
- 15 hours funded childcare for 2 year olds
- 15 hours funded childcare for 3 and 4 year olds
- 30 hours funded childcare for 3 and 4 year olds
You can't use Tax-Free Childcare with:
Find out which funding schemes work best for your family with the online childcare calculator.