2 year olds: 15 hours free childcare for working families


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If you are working, your child may be able to access 15 hours childcare support. Find out more on the sections below:

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible if:

> You and your partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £183 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). 

> If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible

> You cannot get the 15 hours free childcare for 2 year olds, if you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 adjusted net income or more.

How can I apply?

You can apply to Childcare Choices online on this link from when your child is 1 year and 36 weeks.

In order to apply you will need the following information to hand for you and (if relevant) your partner: 

  • your National Insurance Number (N.I.N)
  • if you're self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference 
  • the date you started, or are due to start work 
  • details of any other government support you get 

Note:  If you are also applying for Tax-Free Childcare, you will only apply to HMRC once for both schemes.

When can my child access these free hours and when should apply?

You can apply from when your child is 1 year and 36 weeks but the recommended time to apply is when your child can start accessing these hours based on their date of birth:

Your child birthday falls between:

Your child’s birthday When they can get their hours from Recommended time to apply
1 September to 31 December Term starting on or after 1 January 15 October to 30 November
1 January to 31 March Term starting on or after 1 April 15 January to 28 February
1 April to 31 August Term starting on or after 1 September 15 June to 31 July


  • You can apply outside of these recommended dates but you might not receive your code in time. 

  • You must have a valid code by the end of the month before a new term starts. 

  • Please note for children who may be eligible from September, parents will need to apply for a 30 Hours funded place by 31st July of the same year. 

  • You have to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. If you apply more than 3 months before the term starts, you’ll have to reconfirm your eligibility in your account in order to keep your code valid. 

How can I get support with my application?

For further information on the funded hours and support with applications, please contact the Childcare Choices helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Where can my child access these free hours?

You can access a list of local providers that are registered to offer this entitlement on this link.

Other important information

  • To continue receiving the government support, you need to reconfirm your details every three months on your gov.uk account.

  • These childcare offers are not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions.

  • The hours can be accessed at a participating registered childcare provider only.

  • You can use 15 hours childcare alongside other childcare schemes such as Tax-Free Childcare or Universal Credit Childcare.

  • If you already have a Tax-Free Childcare account and have recently reconfirmed your eligibility, you can find further information in the Department for Education blog post How to claim 15 hours free childcare including how to get your code’

For further information on the funded hours, please contact the Childcare Choices helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Page last reviewed: 08/04/2024

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