Tax Free Childcare for the Self-Employed

Self-employed parents are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare just like employees in the UK. In fact, the eligibility criteria are less strict for the newly self-employed – you don't need to meet the £120 a week earnings limit if you started your business less than 12 months ago (your start-up period). As a self-employed person living in the UK, you can claim up to £2,000 a year for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare.

Yes, that's right!

Tax Free Childcare for the Self Employed
Tax Free Childcare for the Self-Employed

You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every 3 months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).

For every £8 you pay, the government will pay in £2 to use to pay your provider.

What you can use Tax-Free Childcare for...

You can use it to pay for approved childcare, for example:

  • childminders, nurseries and nannies

  • after school clubs and play schemes

Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme before you can pay them and benefit from Tax-Free Childcare. Check with your provider to see if they’re signed up.

You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.


In order to be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare you must be in work, or getting parental leave, sick leave, or annual leave. You (and, if applicable, your partner) must be earning at least the National Minimum Wage for at least 16 hours per week, but this earnings limit does not apply to the newly self-employed.

You can average your self-employment income across the year to meet the minimum income criteria, providing you aren't also getting employment income.

Additionally, your child must be 11 or under, and they must live with you most of the time. Foster children are not eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, but you can claim for adopted children. If your child is disabled, the amount you may be entitled to increases to £4,000 per year until they are 17.

How to apply for self-employed Tax-Free Childcare...

You’ll need to apply online for Tax-Free Childcare if you’re self-employed. The process takes around 20 minutes. You’ll need your National Insurance number and your Unique Taxpayer Reference, along with those of your partner if applicable. Some eligibility applications are settled immediately, but it can take up to seven days.

Apply for self-employed Tax-Free Childcare here. Further information available here.

Hope that helps!

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