If you want to be joined by your family during your stay in Germany, you can find an introduction into what support and obligations exist in Germany. In general, Germany is very open towards all forms of families, and you can be sure receive whatever aid necessary for a comfortable and welcome stay with your loved ones.
Kindergarten, "Kitas" & Nurseries
In Germany, children under three are cared for at nurseries, which often also offer daycare including a midday meal. For children from three to six there are kindergartens. These are voluntary and often are only open in the mornings from about 8 am to midday. They often do not serve a midday meal. If you are looking for daycare for your child, you need to enquire about a “Tagesstättenplatz” (daycare place) which would either be at a "Kindertagesstätte" (daycare centre - Kita) or a "Ganztagskindergarten" (full-day kindergarten). Should you get a space in full-day care, usually a midday meal will be provided.
A large number of day care facilities offer a comprehensive basis for the earliest education in Germany. Two thirds of all day care facilities in Germany are maintained by private organisations (e.g. AWO) or organitions of the catholic (Caritas) or protestant (Diakonie) churches. The majority of public-sector facilities are maintained by municipalities. As many universities and research institutions offer childcare facilities to their employees, it is advisable to first get in contact with your employer to find out whether they provide daycare services.
Should you look at regular day care facilities, the situations between smaller towns and cities differs greatly. In smaller towns, there is usually not a great selection of assignment. In contrast, day care facilities in cities are often at the limit of their capacity, and finding an open spot can prove a challenge. In any case, starting your search early and being aware of the different educational philosophies is an important step towards getting your child the right kind of care.
4 Years Elementary School, 6-9 years Secondary School
All children living in Germany are required to attend school between the ages of 6 and 15. The first stage of school is called “Grundschule” (Years 1-4). After this, there is a choice between three different types of school: “Hauptschule”, which continues until Year 9 or 10 and leads to a general school leaving certificate called “Hauptschulabschluss”; “Realschule”, which continues until Year 10 and culminates in an intermediate school leaving certificate known as “Realschulabschluss” and “Gymnasium”, which continues until Year 12 or 13and leads to the senior school leaving certificate or “Abitur". The "Abitur" is the entrance qualification for higher education. Apart from these, there is also the “Gesamtschule”, a comprehensive school combining the three types of school under one roof where pupils are divided into groups according to their performance.
Attendance at state-run schools in Germany is free of charge. Parents, however, have to pay for some of the books, teaching materials and for excursions their children take part in. There are only very few private or international fee-paying schools. The local “Schulamt” (education authority) can provide information on the situation in your area. "Grundschulen" are usually assigned based on the school district you and your family live in or will be living in. For upper school levels, you usually decide which school to choose after a visit and an interview with the headteacher. Depending on the Federal State, the school year normally begins after the summer holidays between July and September. At most schools in Germany, lessons take place between the morning and early afternoon. Some schools also offer special integration courses for children coming from abroad as well.
At present, however, many Federal States are reorganising and turning schools into full-day schools. There are various different day school models and different focus areas. In some schools it is compulsory to attend all day, in others, known as “Offene Ganztagsschulen” (open day schools), afternoon school is voluntary. Full-day schools provide lunch on the days they are open all day. Parents are expected to pay income-related contributions for full-day options. An additional charge is made for lunch.
Information Portal on the German Education System
An information portal run by the German Federal Government and the 16 "Bundesländer" in Germany with information about the German education system.
Schools in Germany
Information on Germany’s school system and practical tips on how to recognise a good school.
International Schools in Germany
Overview of international schools in Germany that offer International Baccalaureate programmes
Benefits for families
Germany provides financial support for families at every step. Here, you will find an introduction for the types of support for your family.
There are three possible situations regarding eligibility for child allowance: foreign nationals living in Germany may only claim public funds for their family in the form of child allowance as per § 62 para. 2 EStG if they have previously been granted an unlimited settlement permit or another residence permit allowing access to child allowance. Different rules apply for EU citizens and Swiss nationals. They merely have to have taken up permanent residence or become subject to unlimited income tax liability in Germany to be eligible for child allowance. Citizens of states accorded equal status (Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Morocco, Montenegro, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey) may also be eligible for child allowance if they are contractually employed or receiving unemployment or sickness benefits in Germany.
Workers posted to Germany by their employer do not under any circumstances become eligible for child allowance. In this case, the holding a permanent residence permit or other residence permit is irrelevant. Child allowance is paid for children up to the age of 18 or, alternatively, up to the age of 25 if the dependent is participating in schooling, training or higher education.
As of January 2023, child allowance is 250 euro per month for each qualifying child.
Applications must be made in writing to the local Family Office ("Familienkasse")
Citizens of the Member States of the EU, the EEA States and Switzerland may receive child allowance irrespective of whether they have a settlement permit or a residence permit. The same applies to nationals of Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey on the basis of the respective bilateral agreements if they are liable to pay contributions to unemployment insurance under the terms of their employment in Germany or, for example, if they are receiving unemployment or sickness benefit.
Those working on the basis of a service contract or who have been sent to Germany on temporary assignments by employers resident abroad are not eligible for child allowance even if they have a permanent residence permit or residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment.
Foreigners resident in Germany are entitled to receive child allowance if they have a valid permantent settlement permit or a residence permit for certain purposes - this also encompasses the rights of residence and unlimited residence permits issued up to the end of 2004. Other residence permits may also grant access to child allowance.
Parental allowance compensates for loss of income following the birth of a child. After deducting taxes, social security payments and tax allowances, it amounts to 65-67% of the average monthly income available prior to birth up to a maximum of 1,800 euro or a minimum of 300 euro.
From 1 January 2015 onwards, a child’s mother and father may claim parental allowance in this form as "basic parental allowance" (Basiselterngeld) for a period of up to 14 months. The child’s parents can distribute this eligibility period among themselves as they wish. One parent may claim parental allowance for a maximum of twelve months; this period is extended by two further months if the parent’s partner is also involved in caring for the child for at least two months. Single parents are eligible to claim for the full 14-month period on their own.
Parents are eligible for parental allowance if:
- they care for and educate their children themselves after birth,
- they are not employed for more than 30 hours per week,
- they live together with their children in one abode and
- are resident or have their usual place of residence in Germany.
Under certain circumstances, parental allowance may also be paid when a parent is employed abroad.
Application for parental allowance must be made in writing to the office responsible for parental allowance in the federal states. Each parent may apply for parental allowance for him- or herself. The application does not necessarily have to be submitted immediately after birth. Retroactive payments are, however, only made for the last 3 months prior to the month in which the application for parental allowance was made.
Citizens of the Member States of the EU, the EEA States and Switzerland are usually eligible for parental allowance if they are employed in Germany or if they are not employed, but live in Germany.
Other foreigners are eligible for parental allowance if their residence in Germany is deemed permanent according to the type of residence permit they possess and their residence permit gives them access to the employment market. Permanent residents automatically fulfil this requirement. Those holding a residence permit only fulfil the requirements if they are also entitled to take up employment in Germany or have already worked here legally. Foreign parents who hold a residence permit for the purpose of studying or only in connection with a work permit for a specified maximum period are not eligible to receive parental allowance.
There are three different forms of parental allowance currently offerred to those who qualified: basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld), parental allowance PLUS (Elterngeld PLUS), and partnership bonus months (Partnerschaftsbonusmonate).
Basic parental allowance can be claimed for a maximum of 14 months.
The separate "parental allowance PLUS" benefit allows parents to receive 50% of the parental allowance they would receive for longer than 14 months if they continue to meet the basic eligibility requirements for parental allowance. Parents can apply for "parental allowance PLUS" regardless of whether they have additional income. "Parental allowance PLUS" can be claimed for a maximum of 24 months in total.
Eligible parents may choose freely between the two options; the responsible authorities can also advise on combined forms that meet the parents’ needs in each individual case.
The third form of allowance, known as "partnership bonus months", is only available if both parents work part-time for a maximum of 25 to 30 hours a week concurrently over a period of four months. "Partnership bonus months" can extend eligibility for parental allowance to 28 months.
If in doubt, we recommend that you contact the appropriate public authorities for advice on which form of parental allowance is the most suitable for your personal circumstances before making your application. In view of the extensive changes to the law, the information provided above can in no way replace qualified legal advice.
Parental Allowance Calculator (in German)
The Parental Allowance Calculator ascertains your personal Entitlement on Parental Allowance
Information on Parental Leave and Child Allowance
Information on all topics concerning Child Allowance, Parental Leave, Childcare and Assistance for Families