Detailed guide: Childcare for service children

Ministry Of Defence

February 13
16:32 2020

United Kingdom (UK)

There are a number of childcare options for parents to choose from. Parents should go to Childcare Choices for further information and guidance on all available government childcare schemes.


From September 2017, working parents in England with children aged 3 and 4 years old, are entitled to 30 hours free childcare.

You can also check to see if youre eligible for Tax-Free Childcare (TFC). You can get TFC at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if youre eligible for both.


For the current childcare offer in Scotland, parents should visit the Scottish Government website for further information and guidance.


For the current childcare offer in Wales parents should visit the Welsh Government website for further information and guidance.

Northern Ireland

For the current childcare offer in Northern Ireland, parents should contact 38 (Irish) Brigade at for further information and guidance.

Returning from overseas or moving within the UK

30 hours free childcare codes are not valid overseas.

If you are returning from overseas or moving within the UK, please visit the 30 hours free childcare page to find out what is available in your area. The application process and deadlines may vary.


In overseas locations, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provides services (or access to services) that, so far as is reasonably practicable, conform in type, scope and standard to that required by legislation in England.

Parents will have access to the following:

15 and 30 hours free childcare

In MOD nursery settings overseas parents with children aged 3 and 4 years old can access 15 or 30 hours free childcare (depending on eligibility). 30 hours free childcare 2019DIN01-114 applies when registering for the additional entitlement. (DINs are only accessible by MOD personnel.)

Applications should be forwarded to the relevant setting or school for approval and recording.

Overseas Nursery Allowance (ONA)

Parents with children aged 3 and 4 years old, located in areas overseas without access to MOD nursery settings, can claim refunds for 15 or 30 hours free childcare by means of ONA. ONA 2019DIN01-123 applies. Applications should be sent to

Childcare Vouchers

The Childcare Voucher scheme is a salary sacrifice scheme, which closed to new joiners in October 2018.

Parents can visit the MOD childcare website for more information about the Childcare Voucher scheme. DIN 2017DIN01-092 (service personnel) or DIN 2008DIN01-176 (civilians) apply.

Childcare vouchers can only be used at nurseries or childminders that are MOD approved, regulated and inspected.

Tax Free Childcare

Tax Free Childcare (TFC) is a new government scheme introduced on 21 April 2017 to help working parents with the cost of childcare and will, over time, replace the armed forces Childcare Voucher Scheme. Parents have the option to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from an accredited and registered provider. You can follow this step by step guide to claiming TFC.

Parents can visit the Childcare Choices website to register. TFC can only be used at nurseries or childminders that are MOD approved (regulated and inspected). There are also some rest of the world locations where TFC is not currently available. DIN 2018DIN01-011 applies.

Universal Infant Free School Meals

The Department of Education announced that from September 2014 funding would be made available to enable state funded schools in England to offer a free meal to every primary school pupil in Reception classes, Year 1 and Year 2.

Service children in schools overseas in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 or their national equivalent are entitled to a free school meal. In some locations the schools will provide the meal but in others this may not be possible due to local conditions or restrictions. This provision is offered in line with English government legislation. 2019DIN01-021 applies.

Published 3 October 2018
Last updated 13 February 2020 +show all updates
  1. Updated the page with more information regarding Tax free childcare.

  2. Updated internal links and the link to Welsh Government website.

  3. Added a section on returning from overseas or moving within the UK.

  4. First published.

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