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How and when to apply

To apply and claim the funding:

  • complete the online form and set up a childcare service account
  • if you're eligible you will get an eligibility code which you must take to your provider
  • you must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months after applying (even if you haven't started claiming your extra hours)

You can only claim at the start of each new term, if your child is eligible to claim. If you become eligible during the term you will need to wait until the start of the next to get your extra hours. 

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When can I apply?

The table details what date you can apply for funding based on your child's age.

30 hours funding
Must be 3 years old byWhen they will be eligible for funding fromLatest date to take your eligibility code to your provider 
31 December 1 January (spring term) 31 December *
31 March 1 April (summer term) 31 March
31 August 1 September (autumn term) 31 August

* To start your claim from January 2019 we recommend applying as soon as possible to get your eligibility code in good time. You may need to give extra information for your application and many childcare providers close over the Christmas holidays.

You can apply 16 weeks before your child's third birthday. We recommend you apply no more than 3 months before the term you're eligible to claim. 

You must log in to your childcare account to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months, even if you've not started claiming your hours. 

Most parents applying for 30 hours free childcare will get an immediate reply to say if they're eligible, but HMRC may need more information to make a decision for some parents. Make sure you apply in good time.

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