What is registered or approved childcare for tax credits?

You must use 'registered' or 'approved' childcare to get help through tax credits with your childcare costs. This includes all types of childcare, for example nurseries, playschemes, childminders, foster carers and school-based care.

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Childcare in England

To get tax credits to help with childcare costs in England, your childcare provider must be properly registered or approved. You won't be able to claim tax credits if they aren't.

If you use a childminder, playscheme, childcare club or nursery

If you use one of these childcare providers, they need to be registered with Ofsted.

Choosing childcare in England - information on the Ofsted website (Opens new window)

If a foster carer cares for your child

If you use a foster carer for childcare they must be registered with Ofsted.

You can't claim for childcare costs for caring for your own foster child.

If a care worker or nurse cares for your child

You can get tax credits for childcare costs if you use a care worker or nurse from an agency registered for providing care in the home. For example, a domiciliary care worker.

If you use childcare provided by a school

If you use childcare provided by a school, it must be:

  • provided under the direction of the school's governing body or the person responsible for managing the school
  • on school premises, or other premises that may be inspected as part of a school inspection - either by Ofsted or an equivalent inspection body (for example the Independent Schools Inspectorate, Bridge Schools Inspectorate or the Schools Inspection Service)

An example of 'other premises' could be where a school uses a village hall for their out of school hours care.

If your child is between 5 and 15 years old (16 if they're disabled), the childcare must also be provided out of school hours.

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Childcare in Wales

To get tax credits to help with your childcare costs, your childcare provider must be one of the following:

  • registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales
  • a school that provides childcare outside of school hours and on school premises
  • a local authority that provides childcare outside of school hours
  • a care worker or nurse from an agency registered for providing care in the home, for example, a domiciliary care worker
  • someone approved by the Childcare at Home Approval Scheme, providing childcare in your child's home - or if several children are being looked after, in one of the children's homes

If a foster carer cares for your child

You can claim help with your childcare costs in Wales if you use a foster carer for your childcare. If your child is:

  • under 8, the foster carer must be registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW)
  • under 16 and the care is in your child's home, the foster carer must be approved by the Childcare at Home Approval Scheme

You can't claim for childcare costs for caring for your own foster child.

Choosing Childcare in Wales - information on the Welsh Government website (Opens new window)

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Childcare in Scotland

To get tax credits to help with your childcare costs, your childcare provider must be one of the following:

  • registered with Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS)
  • a childcare club that is registered with SCSWIS to provide childcare outside of school hours
  • a person from a registered childcare agency, sitter service or nanny agency providing childcare in your child's home

If a foster carer or 'kinship' carer cares for your child

You can claim help with your childcare costs in Scotland if you use an approved foster carer or a 'kinship' carer. A kinship carer is like a foster carer, but they know the child they're looking after because they're related, or are a family friend.

If you use a foster or kinship carer for your childcare, they must be registered with SCSWIS as a childminder or daycare provider.

You can’t claim for childcare costs for caring for:

  • your own foster child
  • a child you're looking after yourself as part of a kinship care arrangement

Childcare in Scotland - information on the Scottish Childcare website (Opens new window)

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Childcare in Northern Ireland

To get tax credits to help with your childcare costs, your childcare provider must be one of the following:

  • registered with a Health and Social Services Trust
  • a school that provides out of school hours childcare on the school premises
  • an Education and Library Board that provides out of school hours childcare
  • a person approved by the Home Childcare Approval Scheme, providing childcare in the child's home

If a foster carer cares for your child

You can claim help with your childcare costs in Northern Ireland if you use a foster carer for your childcare. If your child is:

  • under 12, the foster carer must be registered with a Health and Social Services Trust
  • under 16 and the care is in your child's home, the foster carer must be approved under the Home Childcare Approval Scheme

You can't claim for childcare costs for caring for your own foster child.

Childcare in Northern Ireland - information on NIDirect (Opens new window)

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If your child is looked after by your partner or a relative

You can't claim tax credits for childcare provided by your partner.

You can't usually claim tax credits for childcare provided by relatives, even if they're registered or approved.

A relative could be your child's:

  • parent
  • grandparent
  • aunt or uncle
  • brother or sister
  • step-parent

A relative is not necessarily a 'blood' relative. If you have a partner, it also includes their relatives.

When you can claim for childcare provided by relatives

You can only claim tax credits for childcare provided by a relative if the relative is either:

  • a registered childminder who cares for your child outside of your child's own home
  • a childcare provider, approved under a Home Child Care Providers Scheme in Wales or Northern Ireland, who cares for your child outside of your child's own home - but they must also care for at least one other child who's not related to them

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If you're a Crown servant working abroad

If you're a Crown servant - for example a civil servant or a member of the armed forces - you could be posted overseas. If your child has gone with you, you can usually claim tax credits for your childcare costs. But your childcare provider must be approved by a Ministry of Defence accreditation scheme abroad.

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More useful links

Work out your childcare costs on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

Childcare changes - effect on Working Tax Credit

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

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