Retailer VoucherFor Retailers

Healthy Start is a government public health scheme that provides a nutritional safety net for pregnant women, new mums and young children in very low-income families. It supports them at one of the most important times in their lives, helping them to eat healthily and develop good habits for the future. Retailers can register to accept Healthy Start vouchers, and so play a vital role in delivering the scheme in their local communities.

What can Healthy Start vouchers be used to buy?

  • Plain cow’s milk – whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed. The cow’s milk can be pasteurised, sterilised, long-life or UHT.
  • Fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables including loose, pre-packed, whole, sliced, chopped or mixed fruit or vegetables, fruit in fruit juice, or fruit or vegetables in water, but not those to which fat, salt, sugar or flavouring have been added.
  • Fresh, dried and tinned pulses, including but not limited to lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas but not those to which fat, salt, sugar or flavouring have been added.
  • Infant formula milk that says on the packet that it can be used from birth (and is based on cow’s milk).

Accepting the vouchers

Only registered retailers can accept and claim payment for Healthy Start vouchers. To find out more about registering for the scheme, and more detailed guidance on the rules, visit the Healthy Start retailer reimbursement unit website or call 0844 991 22 22. Retailers should not accept Healthy Start vouchers before their registration is confirmed, as they cannot claim payment for them.


We have been alerted to a small number of counterfeit Healthy Start vouchers which are currently in circulation. We ask all retailers to carefully check vouchers before accepting them. It is important to check the vouchers you receive at point of sale. Any fraudulent, damaged or out of date vouchers will not usually be accepted for reimbursement purposes. 

The counterfeit vouchers have certain characteristics that you can look out for:

  • Expiry date of 10th November 2020
  • The red thermal keys are more prominent and do not fade/ reappear with heat applied
  • The quality of the paper (texture differs from legitimate vouchers)
  • The edges of the vouchers should be perforated and not straight cut (as they come in sheets of 4)

If you have any doubts to the validity of the vouchers, please ask the customer to contact the Healthy Start Issuing Unit on  0345 607 6823 to confirm authenticity before you accept them.

Some basics about the scheme

  • To register for the scheme, a retailer must sell at least one of the Healthy Start foods (listed above).
  • Vouchers can only be accepted towards the cost of one or more of these foods.
  • Customers are allowed to use more than one voucher at a time, as long as all of the vouchers they wish to spend are within their use-by date.
  • Retailers must give Healthy Start foods to the full value of each voucher – they must not give change.
  • Retailers cannot charge customers any handling fee for accepting the vouchers.
  • Retailers must not pass vouchers on to another retailer – they must be sent directly to the Healthy Start retailer reimbursement unit for payment, along with a completed claim form.
  • Retailers are paid by BACS and must ensure that the Healthy Start retailer reimbursement unit always has their correct bank account details.

Healthy Start vitamins

Families who receive Healthy Start vouchers are also sent green coupons, which they can exchange locally for Healthy Start branded women’s and children’s vitamins.

Healthy Start vitamin distribution arrangements are the responsibility of the commissioning organisation for 0-5 services in the local area in England, trusts and health boards in Wales, and the Business Services Organisation in Northern Ireland.

If a customer asks you about the vitamins and you do not have an arrangement to supply them on behalf of one of these organisations, please advise them to contact their midwife or health visitor to find out where they can use their vitamin coupons.

Compliance with scheme rules

This is a publicly funded scheme and so non-compliance with scheme rules by either retailers or families receiving Healthy Start vouchers is taken very seriously. Retailers found to be breaking the rules may have payments for vouchers withheld, may be removed from the scheme permanently, and may be prosecuted.

If you think someone is breaking the rules of Healthy Start you can report it to the Healthy Start helpline in confidence – call 0345 607 6823 or use our online form to report any retailer that is not accepting the vouchers in the way that they should, or is accepting them when not registered to do so.


Healthy Start Retailer FAQ:

Our preference is for contactless transactions – so should we continue to accept Healthy Start vouchers?

Retailers have been reminded of the importance of continuing to accept Healthy Start vouchers, as Healthy Start beneficiaries may not have access to alternative forms of payment.

Our preference is for contactless transactions – so should we be accepting Healthy Start Vitamins vouchers?

There is no electronic equivalent of Healthy Start Vitamins vouchers, which exist only in paper form. If vitamins distribution outlets have concerns about accepting paper Vitamins vouchers, they should contact the authority which commissions them to distribute vitamins, to discuss whether that authority would be content to examine other ways in which people could demonstrate entitlement to Healthy Start Vitamins. However, we would remind distribution outlets that Healthy Start Vitamins are an important nutritional supplement for Healthy Start beneficiaries, and we would encourage distributors to ensure that they can continue to be given out where at all possible.

DHSSPS Logo NHS Wales Logo NHS England Logo