Starting a home-based ECE service

This is a guide for service providers interested in establishing a licensed home-based education and care service.

Applying for a licence

  • Probationary licence + application form
    • Read about how to apply for a licence for your home-based service below.


      Before you start, do some research. Look through our information to find out everything from what our requirements are to how to choose your equipment and resources. Doing some research will help you make a plan and decide how to carry it out.

      In particular, note that from 1 February 2023, unless excluded, anyone intending to establish a new licensed early childhood service will first need to apply for and be granted network approval by the Minister of Education. You can find more information on Network management for licensed early childhood services.

      Network management for licensed early childhood services

      Information for starting a home-based service(external link)

      You should also look at the Education Counts website to get an idea of how many and what types of early learning service are already in your area, to assess demand.

      Information about early learning services – Education Counts(external link)

      Talk to us

      Once you have done your research, contact your local Ministry office to talk to us. We will also explain more details about the application process and answer any questions you may have.

      Talking to us gives your application the best chance of being successful.

      Local Ministry offices(external link)

      Application form and fee

      You will need to complete the application form EC1 - start a home-based service.

      EC1 form - start a home-based service [PDF, 308 KB]

      There is a non-refundable application fee of $2,817.50 (including GST). 

      Other documents

      You will need to provide additional documents related to your service management, staffing, and curriculum.

      You can access a copy of the Supervised Early Childhood Facilities – Playground Equipment and Surfacing Handbook from Standards NZ at:(external link)

      Standards(external link)

      Statutory declaration

      You will need to declare that the information you have provided is true, and sign it in front of an authorised witness. 

      More information about statutory declarations and authorised witnesses(external link)

      How to send us your form

      You'll need to print the form. Scan and email or post your completed form (along with other required documents) to your local Ministry office. You may like to keep a copy for your personal records.

      Local Ministry offices(external link)

      If we need more information

      If we need more information from you, we will contact you and ask you to provide it to us within 10 working days.

      We will start assessing your application once we have received all the required information and payment of the application fee.

      Visit to your proposed service

      If you meet the requirements on the application form, we will contact you to make a time to visit some of your proposed homes. We will also visit your office so we can check any other relevant documents. 

      Before we visit, everything must be ready as if children are about to attend. For example, the education programme should be ready, furniture and equipment installed, and administrative systems in place.

      Make sure the service provider contact person (and any other staff you want to be there) can be there when we visit.

      During the visit, we will look at all aspects of your service, including:

      • the homes
      • the children's resources
      • your teaching qualifications and ratio requirements
      • health and safety considerations
      • governance and management considerations.

      We may take notes, photos, or other evidence to support our assessment.

      For a full list of the areas we will check, and other documents you will need to provide, see the home-based EC3 assessment tool on our website.

      EC3 form: tool we use to assess services with regulatory requirements

      How long does it take?

      We will do our best to make a decision about whether your application is successful within 30 working days of receiving it.

      We need all information before we can start assessing your application.

      If your application is successful

      If your application is successful, we will email or post you a licence. The licence shows details about your service, such as the hours children may attend.

      You must make your licence accessible to parents and caregivers.

  • Full licence
    • A full licence must be granted within 12 months of gaining a probationary licence. Please contact your local Ministry office when your service is ready to complete a full licence check. During the full licence check, the Ministry of Education will assess policies, practices and curriculum implementation in action.