You must apply to register your nursery, or other daycare organisation for children, with Ofsted.

You should read this guide if you will be looking after children aged between birth and the 31 August following their fifth birthday and you will be doing this in:

  • somewhere other than in someone’s home
  • someone’s home where 4 or more adults will be working with the children at the same time

Who should apply

If you want to look after children in this way, you will need to register the daycare with Ofsted. Only individuals who will have certain roles can apply to register a daycare.

Working on the assumption that your application is successful, you will need to be one of the following:

  • the individual owner of a daycare organisation
  • one of the registered individuals of a daycare organisation owned by a company or group
  • one of the registered individuals of a school which does any of the following:
    • admits children to their register who are not yet 2 years old
    • provides care for children under 2 years old where at least 1 child attends for more than 2 hours a day
    • provides care for children who are not pupils at the school

You can find out more information on registered individuals as well as the registered person and the nominated individual of a daycare.

There are exemptions to the requirement to register.

What counts as daycare

A daycare for children can include:

  • a nursery
  • a playgroup
  • before-school care
  • after-school care
  • a holiday club

Childminders and other adults working together

You will need to register as a daycare organisation if you are running a childcare business where both of the following apply:

  • you are working with 3 or more other adults at the same time
  • the children are looked after in someone’s home, either your home or someone else’s

This is known as providing ‘childcare on domestic premises’.

An example of this happening is where a childminder expands their business to join with other childminders or assistants. However, 4 or more adults can also set up this sort of childcare without any being registered childminders.

If you are looking after children in your own home with fewer than 3 other childminders or assistants, you only need to register as a childminder.

If you want to work part of your time as a childminder, and part with 3 or more other childminders or assistants, you must register separately for each. You will need to pay 2 fees and have separate inspections.


If you are only looking after someone else’s children in their home, you must read the guidance on becoming a nanny instead, as you may not need to register with Ofsted.

Daycare in schools

You will need your school’s unique reference number.

If you do not meet the requirements

If you do not qualify to apply to register as a daycare, childminder or nanny you might be able to apply to join the Childcare Register.

Information you will need

To register your organisation, you will need to have the following details:

  • your name and contact details
  • your organisation’s contact details, including individuals who form part of it
  • the contact details of your organisation’s nominated individual
  • details of any previous registration with Ofsted

Everyone who wants to join your organisation in a governance position, such as a committee member, will need to apply to Ofsted.

How to apply

Check whether you should be registering as one of the following instead of as a daycare organisation:

– a childminder
– a nanny

Registering as the wrong type of childcarer may delay when you can start work.

Apply to register

Next steps

Your application to register as a nursery or other daycare will not be reviewed by Ofsted until these 2 steps are also completed.

When you have completed this application, you must also:

You will receive an email telling you to complete these steps. It will also have a link to an overview page where you can check the progress of all these connected applications.

Published 30 January 2020
Last updated 30 March 2021 + show all updates

  1. Anyone using the service will now receive an email afterwards directing them to an overview of all the other applications connected to their organisation’s, and the status of each.

  2. First published.