Toggle menu

Applying for the working parent childcare entitlements

What happens if I lose the letter with my code?

Your letter from HMRC should arrive by 15 February. If you haven't received a letter by 15 February, or if you lose the letter including your code after it has arrived, you should contact HMRC.

Please wait for your letter to arrive before contacting HMRC.

I haven't received a letter from HMRC on what to do yet

Letters will only be sent to parents who are already registered for Tax-Free Childcare and whose reconfirmation windows opens on or after 15th February and before 1 April 2024.

Please make sure that all your contact details on your childcare account are up to date, so that we can contact you if we need to about your childcare. HMRC are working to send letters to you before the middle of February. Before your letter arrives, you can speak to your provider and show them that you are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare and ask them to reserve a place for you.

That is because the eligibility criteria for Tax-Free Childcare and the new free hours are the same. You can do this by showing your provider:

  • Proof of your Tax-Free Childcare eligibility (this can be a screenshot from your childcare account, or simply showing your account to your provider)
  • When your reconfirmation window is (you can get this from your childcare account)
  • Your National Insurance number, and
  • Proof of your child's date of birth, for example your child's birth certificate, to show they turn 2 on or before 31 March 2024.

However, you must wait for your code in order to confirm your free place.

Do I still need to reconfirm if my window opens on or after 15 February?

If your reconfirmation window opens on or after 15 February, you will receive a letter with a temporary code which can be used straight away to claim your free place.

However, once your reconfirmation window opens, you will still need to reconfirm via your Childcare Account and share this digital code with your provider.

This is because you will need to continue to reconfirm via your Childcare Account to ensure your eligibility doesn't lapse.

Do I need to wait for my reconfirmation window to add another child to my account?

A parent who is already using the childcare service for another child can add a new child to their account at any time.

Your reconfirmation cycle for your current Tax-Free Childcare will not affect this.

How do I apply?

You need to meet the eligibility criteria before you can claim 15 hours free childcare.

You apply online here at Gov.uk.

You'll need to make sure you have the following information to hand before starting the application:

  • your national insurance number (or unique taxpayer reference if you are self-employed)
  • the date you started or are due to start work
  • details of any government support or benefits you receive
  • the UK birth certificate reference number (if you have one) for your child.

You may find out if you're eligible straight away, but it can take up to 7 days.

Once your application has been approved, you'll get a code for free childcare to give to your childcare provider.

Parents will be asked to reconfirm that they are still eligible for the support every 3 months and will be reissued their code.

Applications are open until 31 March. If you miss the deadline, or don't receive your code by 31 March, you won't be able to start using the new entitlements from 1 April.

What happens once I receive my code?

You'll need to take the code to your childcare provider, along with your National Insurance Number and your child's date of birth.

Your childcare provider will check the code and then allocate your child a place if available.

We recommend parents speak with their chosen provider about when they will be able to offer them a place. If your chosen provider doesn't have a place available, we advise that you explore other providers in your local area.

You can search for childcare using our online directory.

What if I'm already registered for Tax Free Childcare?

Parents must reconfirm that they are still eligible for Tax-Free Childcare every 3 months.

As applications are now open for the new free hours entitlement, when eligible parents reconfirm they will receive a code which will also enable them to access the new offer.

To provide reassurance to parents with reconfirmation windows in late February and March, we're taking additional steps to ensure every parent is able to give their code to their provider in good time.

If your reconfirmation window opens on or after the 15 February, HMRC will send you a letter with a temporary code before this date.

The letter will also explain how to use your code to claim your free place in April. Where possible, please wait for your letter to arrive. You don't need to contact HMRC.

Before your letter arrives, you can speak to your provider and use your eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare to demonstrate your eligibility for the new free hours entitlement, as the eligibility criteria are the same. You can do this by showing your provider:

  • Proof of your Tax-Free Childcare eligibility (this can be a screenshot from your childcare account, or simply showing your account to your provider)
  • When your reconfirmation window is (you can get this from your childcare account)
  • Your National Insurance number, and
  • Proof of your child's date of birth, for example your child's birth certificate, to show they turn 2 on or before 31 March 2024.

However, you must wait for your code (either via letter or through your regular childcare account) to formally confirm your free place.

I have received two codes, one from the letter and one from the website. Which am I supposed to use? (for parents who already receive Tax-Free Childcare)

If you have two codes, one from your letter beginning with 11 and one from the website beginning with 50, please give your provider the code from the website beginning with 50, as this is your permanent digital code for your child.


If you only have one code (beginning with 11) then you can use this code to start using your entitlements. Please remember that once your reconfirmation window opens, you will still need to reconfirm your eligibility through your Childcare Account and share the digital code you will receive at that time (beginning with 50) with your provider.

My reconfirmation window for Tax-Free Childcare is now open. How will I get my code? (for parents who already receive Tax-Free Childcare)

When you reconfirm your eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare through the Childcare Service you will be given access to the 15 hours of childcare if your child is the right age. You will find your code for this within your secure messages, on your Childcare Service account.

What happens if my reconfirmation window is after 1 April? Do I get a code? (for parents who already receive Tax-Free Childcare)

Reconfirmation of eligibility occurs every 3 months, and you are able to reconfirm 28 days prior to your code's eligibility end date. Those with a reconfirmation window which opens in April should also have had a reconfirmation window opening in January. If you were eligible at this point you should have received a code then. Please remember to check your secure messages on your account to find your code after you have had a reconfirmed your Tax-Free Childcare. HMRC have only sent a letter to those with reconfirmation windows which open on or after 15th February and before 1 April.

How do I reconfirm?

To confirm your details are up to date and that you remain eligible for Tax-Free Childcare and/or the childcare entitlements, you will need to log into your childcare account every 3 months.

In most cases reconfirmation should only take a few minutes.

You need to log into your childcare account using your Government Gateway ID to reconfirm: Sign in to your childcare account - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The dates between which you should reconfirm will be displayed when you log in.

Even if you have received a letter from HMRC with a temporary code (for those with reconfirmation windows that open on or after the 15th February 2024), then you still need to reconfirm through your childcare account when your reconfirmation window opens and given this digital code to your provider. You do not need to wait until this point to confirm your place with your provider, which you can do with the temporary code.

Do I need to apply for new entitlements if I already claim Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours for my older child?

If you get Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours for another child (i.e. not your 2-year-old) then you will need to add your 2-year-old to the account and apply for the new entitlement.

What happens if I miss the reconfirmation deadline?

Your eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare and/or your childcare entitlements will lapse if you miss the reconfirmation deadline.

If you do miss it, and your child is attending a childcare provider, a grace period for your free childcare will apply.

This means your child can continue in their place for the time being, but you need to submit another application as soon as you can to keep getting Tax-Free Childcare and/or the childcare entitlements.

You can submit such an application any time you meet the eligibility criteria for childcare entitlements or Tax-Free Childcare.

You must then present your code to your provider to confirm your place can continue.

Can we get a rebate (if you're not eligible but would have been if it had been rolled out earlier)

This is not something we are able to offer, as you would have received the support that was available to you at that time. However, if you are eligible but were unable to take up a free place due to a technical issue, you may be eligible for compensation.