Free early education for 3 and 4 year olds

All three and four year old children are automatically eligible for 15 free hours of free funded early education per week, up to a maximum of 570 hours of free early education a year. This can be used flexibly with one or more childcare providers.

All 3 and 4 year old children can start their free early education at different times of the year,  as long as it is from the term after their third birthday. 

Your 3 or 4 year old child can start free early education at different times depending when their birthday is:

  • If their birthday is between 1 January and 31 March, they can start their free early education in April, after their third birthday.
  • If their birthday is between 1 April and 31 August, they can start their free early education in September, after their third birthday
  • If their birthday is between 1 September and 31 December, they can start their free early education in January after their third birthday

How to apply

You don’t need to complete an online application for this. Simply choose the early years provider(s) where you would like your child to attend and apply directly with your chosen provider to access the free early education.

Find an early education provider.

30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year old children

30 hours free childcare is available for families who meet the national eligibility criteria up to a maximum of 1,140 hours per year. (This is an additional 15 extended hours of childcare per week on top of the standard 15 universal hours entitlement).

These additional 15 extended hours can be used during term time or stretched over the whole year, including weekends and can be accessed flexibly to meet the needs of working parents.

Eligibility

Check whether you are eligible for 30 hours 

Apply for 30 hours free childcare

If you have already applied for 30 hours of free childcare and you disagree with the eligibility outcome as determined by HMRC, there is a review and appeals process available.

The review and appeals process is managed by HMRC. Please contact the HMRC Customer Helpline on 0300 123 4097.