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