Childcare Return to UK


Defence Children Services (DCS) and Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding (AFFS) has worked closely with Department for Education (DfE) and HM Revenue & Customs to ensure parents (Service and entitled MOD Civilians) returning to England from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and overseas can apply for a 30 hours childcare code before they arrive back in England. Provided they meet the criteria for entitlement.

This will ensure that entitlements aren’t missed, especially when parents move mid-term and would not be able to apply within termly deadlines set by DfE.


Parents are unable to apply for 30 hours free childcare online whilst posted outside of England. To allow parents to not lose out on this entitlement, a manual process has been put in place to ensure parents can access the 30 hours code. This enables parents to plan for their return.

Parents who are due to return to England, after a term deadline, but are aware of this move prior to a term deadline, can apply for a manual 30 hours code for their return. Parents must call the Childcare Service helpline on 0300 123 4097 and request a manual application. Information on term deadlines and when to apply can be found below.

When your child turns 3When they can get 30 hours fromRecommended time to apply
1 Sep to 31 Dec1 Jan15 Oct to 30 Nov
1 Jan to 31 Mar1 Apr15 Jan to 28 Feb
1 Apr to 31 Aug1 Sep15 Jun to 31 Jul

HMRC will determine eligibility for the scheme by completing a manual application at the time of the call. If all eligibility criteria are met, the parent will need to provide HMRC with evidence of returning to England. This evidence will be in the form of an assignment order or civilian posting notice. When this document is received and verified by HMRC, the parent will be issued with a manual 30 hours code to the email address supplied when completing the application. HMRC will provide details of where to send documents at time of application.

The 30 hours code can be given to the childcare provider prior to, or, upon their return to England. Parents can apply for a 30 hours code from when their child is aged 2 years and 36 weeks. Children qualify from the term following their third birthday.


he Scottish Government has pledged to increase paid-for nursery places from the current 16 hours to 30 hours for children aged 3 and 4, and eligible two-year-olds, by August 2020. Please visit Scottish government pages for the latest information,


Wales provides 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare for working parents of children aged 3 and 4 years for 48 weeks of the year. Applications are dealt with directly by each Local Authority’s Family Information Service (FIS) where the parent reside,


Parents of children aged 3 and 4 years can apply to receive 12.5 hours per week of free, also known as funded, preschool education. This allocation can only be taken over 2.5 hours per day, 5 days a week, during term time. Places are provided by nursery schools, primary schools with nursery units and some voluntary and private providers. The places cannot be provided by childminders. Please visit for further information.

Questions over eligibility or the process to be sent to the Childcare Service helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Last Updated: Jul 15, 2022 @ 8:36 am

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