Benefits for families
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 other residence permit.
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 existence of a residence permit is irrelevant.
Child allowance is paid up to a minimum age of 18 or, alternatively, up to the age of 25 if the dependent is undergoing schooling or training or higher education.
As of January 2020, for the first and second child, child allowance is 204 euros per month. For the third child it is 210 euros. For the fourth and any subsequent children the sum is 235 euros.
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 for unemployment benefit under the terms of their employment in Germany or, for example, if they draw 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 settlement permit or residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment.
Foreigners permanently resident in Germany are entitled to receive child allowance if they have a valid settlement permit or a residence permit for specific purposes - this also embraces the rights of residence and unlimited residence permits issued up to the end of 2004.
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, or a maximum of 1,800 euros, or a minimum of 300 euros.
From 01/01/2015 onwards, a child’s father and mother 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 between 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. Single parents are eligible to claim for the full 14-month period on their own.
Mothers and fathers 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 in respect of employment 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. Retrospective payments are, however, only made for the last 3 months prior to the month in which the application for parental allowance was made.
Other foreigners are eligible for parental allowance if their residence in Germany is deemed permanent according to the type of residence title they possess and their access to the employment market. Those holding a settlement permit 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.
Effective from 01/01/2015, Germany’s previous legal regulations for claiming parental allowance have changed fundamentally. Currently, there are three different forms of parental allowance: basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld), parental allowance PLUS (Elterngeld PLUS), and partnership bonus months (Partnerschaftsbonusmonate).
Basic parental allowance will largely correspond to the previously familiar form of parental allowance (see above); however, the option to choose to receive halved parental allowance over a longer period has been removed. Basic parental allowance can be claimed for a maximum of 14 months.
With the separate "parental allowance PLUS" benefit the government has revised its regulations on claiming halved parental allowance over a longer period: it allows parents to receive a reduced parental allowance of 50 % beyond the period of 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 each work part-time for 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.
Parents whose children are born in Germany on or after 01/07/2015 will be able to claim and combine these three new forms of allowance.
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 offices
All parental allowance offices ordered by Federal States
Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
- Parental allowance calculator
The parental allowance calculator ascertains your personal entitlement on parental allowance
Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
- Information on parental leave and child allowance
Information on all topics concerning child allowance, parental leave, childcare and assistance for families
Federal Office for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth