Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. The Pink Book contains general information about laws applicable to your business. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Read our full disclaimer.

Key facts

  • If you regularly provide day care for children under the age of eight for more than two hours in any day, then registration with Ofsted may be necessary.
  • The registration process involves filling in an application form and providing details about other people associated with the care.
  • Ofsted will need to be satisfied that you are a suitable person, and will expect certain qualifications or recommend some training.

Childcare facilities and the Children Act 1989

Under Part X (Child Minding and Day Care for Young Children) of the Children Act 1989, you are required to register with Ofsted if you are offering certain types of care facilities for children under the age of eight for more than two hours. This applies regardless of whether the child belongs to a member of staff (e.g. a crèche for employees) or a customer (e.g. a childcare service or kids’ activity group).

Does this apply to me?


  • if the child is over the age of eight, or;
  • if the child is in your care for less than two hours


  • if the child is between five and eight years old and in your care for more than two hours – you have to be on the Ofsted Child Care Register
  • if the child is under five years old and in your care for more than two hours – you have to be on the Ofsted Early Years Register.

You can apply to join one register or both registers at the same time.

You cannot voluntarily register if you look after each child for under 2 hours a day – even if your business is open for longer than 2 hours.

The only exception to this is if you provide before or after-school care for less than 2 hours a day in total. In this case you can, if you wish, register on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register.


There are various exemptions from the need to register. These include:

1. If you provide tutoring or coaching in either one or two of the following activities to children aged 3 and over:

  • sports
  • performing arts
  • arts and crafts
  • school study support or homework support
  • religious, cultural or language studies.

However, you cannot look after children under 5 for more than 4 hours in any one day.

2. If you look after children under 8 from one place for 14 days or less in any year


3. if you operate a creche and all the following apply:

  • you look after children under 8 for 4 hours or less each day
  • the children’s parents plan to stay in the immediate area (close by, where they can be summoned immediately)
  • there is no long-term commitment to provide childcare
  • this is offered to parents or carers as a short-term convenience, for instance, while they are undertaking an activity

This is particularly of relevance to activity and holiday centres where care facilities are offered so that parents can undertake an onsite activity.

However, it is important to note that the Act says that you have a duty to ensure that the children are well cared for, even if you are not required to be on a register.

Are baby-sitting and baby listening services covered?

Baby-sitting is not specifically covered by the Act. This is because care that is provided on the parent's own premises is not normally treated as childminding, unless you care for the children of more than two sets of parents in the home of one of them.

Baby-listening services do not come within the scope of the Act. However, if you provide baby-sitting services on a regular basis on particular premises, such as a hotel's baby-sitting service, then you may need to register.

If you need to apply for registration, or are in any doubt as to whether you need to register, you should contact Ofsted.

Registration with Ofsted

In the first instance, you should contact your local authority for information about pre-registration briefings and an application pack. Ofsted recommends a briefing session with your local authority before making your application.

The registration process starts as soon as your form is received by Ofsted. They aim to complete the process within 12 weeks for childminders and 25 weeks for day care providers.

During this time, Ofsted will arrange a registration visit and a 'suitable person' interview with one of their inspectors. They will carry out a number of checks, including with the Criminal Records Bureau, on everyone associated with an application such as the applicant, day care manager or those who live on the premises where the applicant proposes to provide child-minding.

The registration process is explained in the Ofsted leaflets mentioned below in Further guidance.

After registration, Ofsted will conduct the first inspection within seven months of starting to care for children. Regular inspections of the quality of care follow this first inspection at least once every three years and, in some cases, more often.


The Department for Education’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the statutory framework that sets the standards that all Early Years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. This is a comprehensive framework which sets the standards for learning, development and care of children from birth to five and was revised in 2014. All registered early years providers are required to use the EYFS.