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Germany - Family benefits

Under what circumstances am I entitled to benefits?

Anyone who is registered with their place of residence or habitual abode in Germany will receive child benefit and parental allowance for biological and adopted children and for a spouse's children/registered partner (stepchildren) principally subject to the following, regardless of his or her own income. You can also receive child benefit for grandchildren or foster children living in your house or apartment.

Eligibility requirements

Child benefit is generally received for your own or adopted children's or a spouse's/registered partner’s children, until the child reaches 18. Additionally, the corresponding fiscal identification number is required.

Child benefit

  • is paid until the 21st birthday if the child is not in paid employment (has no employer) and is registered as a jobseeker at a government agency in Germany, another EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • is paid continuously until the child's 25th birthday, provided that the child:
    • is in school or vocational training, or has completed a university course or
    • is in a transitional phase between two training periods of a maximum of four months, or
    • is doing voluntary service, as defined in article 32(4), P. 1, No. 2(d) of the Income Tax Act, or
    • is unable to take up or continue training owing to a lack of trainee posts, or
  • will continue to be paid if a child is unable to provide for itself because of a physical, mental or learning disability which started before their 25th birthday.

Children who have reached majority (18 or over) can only be included after the end of their first vocational training or study if they regularly work 20 hours or less (self-employed or employed) This also applies to trainees or children who have reached majority doing casual working.

No child benefit or child benefit only up to the difference is paid for children for whom you, your spouse or another person with whom your child is in a parent-child relationship (e.g. foster parents) already receive benefits comparable to child benefit.

Child benefit is entirely financed by tax revenue. No contributions are paid towards it.

Parental allowance (basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld) and parent allowance plus (ElterngeldPlus)):

Parental allowance is received by mothers and/or fathers who live in the same household as their child, care for and raise their child themselves, and who are not in employment or have part-time employment (up to 30 hours per week). The basic parental allowance may be paid until the child's fourteenth months. Apart from the parental allowance (basic parental allowance) in its current form, the parent allowance plus can also be claimed for birth after 1 July 2015. The parental allowance plus is paid for twice the period of time: one month of parental allowance = two months of parental allowance plus. If both parents work in four consecutive months on average between 25-30 hours per week, they will each receive additional monthly amounts of the parental allowance plus in these four months (partnership bonus).

Spouses or partners who take care of the child after the birth (even if it is not their own) may receive parental allowance subject to the same conditions. This also applies to relatives up to the third degree, if the parents cannot look after their child alone on account of a hardship (illness, disability or death of the parents).

Parental allowance may also be paid for adopted children and children taken into foster care with the aim of adoption. The time when the child joins the household of the beneficiary, and not the time of birth, is decisive for the start date from when the parental allowance can be claimed. The entitlement ends as soon as the child reaches their eighth birthday.

Allowance advance

Children with residence or habitual abode in Germany, who live with a single parent and have not yet completed twelve years of age receive an allowance advance, if they do not receive any or regular alimonies of the other parent. The allowance advance is paid for a maximum of six years. It amounts to the minimum allowance less child benefit. Children are always also entitled to claim an allowance advance, if the parent lives in a cohabiting union with a new partner. If the natural parent living with the child marries the stepparent, they are not entitled to claim an allowance advance.

What am I entitled to and where can I apply for the benefits?

Benefits:

EUR 192 is paid in child support each month for the first and second child; EUR 198 for the third; and EUR 223 for the fourth and further children.

Parental allowance (basic parental allowance and parental allowance plus):

A parent can receive parental allowance for at least two months (minimum coverage period) and basic parental allowance for a maximum of 12 months. Both parents are in principle entitled to a shared total of 12 months of basic parental allowance. Parents receive two further months of parental allowance if both partners forego earned income to bring up a child (partner months). Single parents who receive a lesser salary for two months of benefit can receive the basic parental allowance as substitute income for up to 14 months.

The basic parental allowance is about two thirds of the net income described above. Low-income earners receive up to 100% of their last net earnings. This is at least EUR 300 (irrespective of income) in the basic parental allowance scheme and EUR 150 in the parental allowance plus scheme. The basic parental allowance is at most EUR 1,800 and at most EUR 900 for the parental allowance plus per month. Families with a number of small children can receive a sibling bonus of 10%, with a minimum of EUR 75 per month in the basic parental allowance scheme and EUR 37.50 in the parental allowance plus scheme. For multiple births, the basic parental allowance increases by EUR 300 and the parental allowance plus increases by EUR 150 for each other sibling. The parents are also entitled to parental allowance for each other child of a multiple birth.

The parental allowance plus is calculated like the basic parental allowance, but it can only amount to a maximum of half the parental allowance amount the parents without a part-time income would be entitled to after the birth. Instead it is paid for twice the amount of time: one parental allowance month = two parental allowance plus months.

If both parents work in four consecutive months for an average of 25-30 hours per week, every parent receives additional monthly amounts of parental allowance plus (partnership bonus) for these four months. Both parental couples and single parents can claim the parental allowance plus for another four months, if they work for at least four subsequent months between 25 and 30 hours per week.

Allowance advance

The allowance advance for children up to five years is EUR 150 per month and for children between 6 and 11 years it is EUR 201 per month. The allowance advance is EUR 268 up to reaching the age of 18 years.

The allowance advance is paid for a maximum of 72 months and only up to the completion of the twelfth year (12th birthday) of the child. The income of the single parent is irrelevant.

Application forms

You only receive child benefit if you have applied for it in writing at the family benefits office of the Federal Employment Agency.

You must notify the family benefits office voluntarily of any changes to your personal circumstances (e.g. the ending of a child's vocational training).

You can obtain the application forms from your family benefits office or at https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/en. You can find the office responsible for you at http://www.familien-wegweiser-regional.de/Kindergeld.113.0.html.

You can also only receive parental allowance if you have applied for it in writing at the parental allowance office. You can find the office responsible for you and application forms at http://www.familien-wegweiser-regional.de/Elterngeld.73.0.html.

The local youth welfare offices also provide application forms for allowance advances.

Your rights

Trade unions, among others, offer their members free advice on social rights issues. Charitable associations such as unemployment centres help those in need with the forms and will also accompany you, if required, to the public authorities.

European Commission publications:

Further information

You can obtain further information about child benefit from your family benefits office or at http://www.familienkasse.de. You can find the office responsible for you at http://www.familien-wegweiser-regional.de/Kindergeld.113.0.html.

You also only receive parental allowance if you have applied for it in writing at the parental allowance office. You can find the office responsible for you and application forms at http://www.familien-wegweiser-regional.de/en/parental_allowance.73.0.html.

You can find the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs at http://www.bmas.de/EN/Home/home.html.

The Federal Central Tax Office is on http://www.bzst.de/EN/Home/home_node.html.

The Federal Ministry for Family, Elderly People, Women and Youth is on https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/meta/en/en

You can only obtain alimony advances if you have applied for them in writing at the competent youth welfare office. You will find the competent office on http://www.familien-wegweiser.de/wegweiser/Familie-regional/Unterhaltsvorschuss/unterhaltsvorschuss.html.