Find out what support is available with childcare costs if you are a cross-border worker

How can cross-border workers claim support with registered childcare costs?

Many parents who live in Northern Ireland regularly travel across the border into the Republic of Ireland as part of their daily life. This could be for work, shopping, visiting friends and family, children’s school, church etc. However, when it comes to getting help with registered childcare costs the picture can be more complicated depending where the childcare provider is located and where the parent’s place of work is.

Childcare outside of the UK

If you are using a childcare provider located outside of the UK (eg in the Republic of Ireland), you may be able to claim support with your registered or approved childcare costs through Tax-Free Childcare, Tax Credits or Universal Credit, provided you meet all other eligibility criteria regarding working hours, pay and household circumstances.

This can be particularly helpful for families in Northern Ireland who, due to where they live or work, are considering using a registered childcare provider located in the Republic of Ireland.

Eligible families in Northern Ireland, using cross border childcare could receive financial support through Tax-Free Childcare or Universal Credit, or for existing claimants only, Tax Credits. However, it is important to note that there is no equivalent entitlement for childcare outside the UK relating to Childcare Vouchers with the exception of childcare provided by a person approved under a Ministry of Defence accreditation scheme abroad.

Employment outside of the UK

If you are living and using childcare within Northern Ireland but are working in the Republic of Ireland, or elsewhere outside the UK, you may still be able to claim support with your registered childcare costs through Tax-Free Childcare, Tax Credits or Universal Credit. However, you will have to prove that you meet the earnings and working hours criteria as HMRC would not automatically receive this information regarding your income. This could mean that you have to register with HMRC in order to report your ‘foreign income’ or that you have to provide copies of your payslips on an ongoing basis in order to prove that you meet the eligibility criteria.

Living in the Republic of Ireland

If you are resident in the Republic of Ireland it is likely that any support towards registered or approved childcare will be through schemes administered within the Republic of Ireland. Citizens Information provides information on all the different forms of support available for pre-school education and childcare. Due to their locations North Connacht and Ulster Citizens Information Centres provide information and advice to many cross border workers living in the Republic of Ireland and can be contacted on 0818 07 6200 from within the Republic of Ireland.

For further information

This is still a complex area for families, and if you think it might be relevant to you, we advise you to call our Family Benefits Advice Service on 028 9267 8200. Our trained advisors can help you work out if you are eligible for financial support through one of the UK schemes. It’s free, impartial and confidential and lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.