Waivers under the NQF


​​In special circumstances including during, or because of, unexpected events, the regulatory authority (the department) may grant a waiver if an approved provider cannot meet all the requirements of the National Quality Framework (NQF).

Approved providers having difficulty meeting operational requirements, such as the following, may apply for a waiver as a last resort:

The elements and regulatory requirements, including relevant transitional provisions for which you can seek a waiver, are set out in the Education and Care Services National Regulations (Regulations 41 and 44).

The department considers waivers on a case-by-case basis.

The department will consider whether the approved provider is operating in compliance with all other requirements of the NQF.

The approved provider must provide the details and evidence of any attempts to comply with the requirement, and how they will ensure children’s health, safety and wellbeing during the waiver period.

The Evidence for Waiver Applications information sheet (PDF, 142KB) explains what documentation to submit with the application according to which type of waiver is sought.

The department may need to request further information or inspect the service’s premises as part of its assessment as to whether to grant or refuse the waiver.

Approved providers can submit service and waiver applications at the same time. However the department will only decide the waiver application once service approval is granted.


In some circumstances, changing the service approval application may enable the service to operate without needing a waiver. For example reducing the number of children attending the service if there is insufficient outdoor space.

Outdoor space should always be fully considered when planning an education and care service. The Regulatory Authority has developed additional detailed guidance​ to help services plan and understand requirements for both indoor and outdoor space, including when a physical environment waiver may be considered.​

Types of waivers

There are 2 types of waivers:

  • service waivers which are ongoing and have no specific expiry date
  • temporary waivers which may be granted for a period of no more than 12 months.​

A service with a waiver is either taken to comply (service waiver) or is not required to comply for up to 12 months (temporary waiver) with the specified regulatory provision for which the waiver applies.

How to apply for a waiver

Read about applying for a waiver including application requirements on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) website.

Submit a waiver application via the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA IT System) along with the prescribed fee.

For help with this and other NQA ITS processes, read the Getting Started Online guidance, or a more comprehensive user guide, on the ACECQA website.

Timeframe for processing a waiver application

Under the National Law, the department has up to 60 days to assess a waiver application.

Approved providers should submit their completed application including evidence at least 60 days before they require a decision.

More​ information

Read more about waivers for services under the NQF on the:

Approved providers that temporarily close their service/s due to a disaster or other unexpected event must notify the Regulatory Authority within 24 hours of closure. Further information about how to do this is available on our Early childhood service closures page.

Help and support

If you have questions about waivers, email

Last updated 28 August 2023