European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals and the early education entitlements

Taken from a letter to local authorities from the Department for Education on 29 January 2021

On 31st December 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) ended the trade and transition period. This means that from 1st January 2021, EEA nationals will be treated as third country nationals coming into the UK, and will need to meet additional immigration requirements to access 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare. EEA and Swiss nationals already resident in the UK before 31st December 2020 will need to ensure they have applied for European Union (EU) Settled Status by 30th June 2021 if they want to keep accessing their free childcare entitlements and Tax-Free childcare. In the meantime, they should continue to apply for, and reconfirm, their 30 hours places as usual using the Childcare Service.

There have been no changes to the 30 hours application and code verification process for local authorities or childcare providers as a result of EU Exit. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will continue to determine eligibility for 30 hours and to issue codes. We would, however, ask that local authorities and childcare providers encourage EEA and Swiss national parents to ensure their Settled Status paperwork is up to date ahead of the 30th June 2021 deadline if they wish to continue accessing the 30 hours entitlement.

We do not expect EU Exit to have a significant effect on local authorities and providers offering the 2 Year Old entitlement. The eligibility checking service (ECS) will continue to be used to assess whether parents are eligible to take up a place.

Universal 15 hours for 3 and 4 year olds remains unaffected by changes to EEA criteria. All three- and four year-olds living in England are entitled to the universal entitlement irrespective of the immigration status of the child or their parent.

Other government departments will be supporting the drive to promote Settled Status applications by the end of June 2021, and you may also like to distribute the message to your childcare providers. Further information on the application process can be found on GOV.UK

A range of charities, local authorities and voluntary organisations across the UK have been funded by Home Office to provide help and information to vulnerable EU, EEA and Swiss citizens applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.