- Child benefit can be paid for children aged 18 or over if
they are undertaking their first programme of school-based or in-company vocational training, university studies or internships. Your child must be acquiring knowledge which will form the basis for him or her to pursue his or her intended profession.
- they are undertaking a second programme of vocational training and working only a limited amount, if at all. If your child works more than an average of 20 hours per week over the year, child benefit is no longer paid (with an exception in the case of “450 euro” jobs).
- they are unable to begin a vocational training programme due to the lack of a vocational training place. You must also provide evidence that your child is seeking a vocational training place. For example, your child may be registered with an Employment Agency or job centre as seeking a vocational training place.
- they are unemployed, and registered with an Employment Agency or job centre as a jobseeker. This applies only until they reach the age of 21.
- they are volunteering in the framework of the Federal Voluntary Service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst) or a similar form of voluntary service.
- they are in a transitional phase between two stages of their vocational training programme. This applies for a maximum of four months.
- they are unable to support themselves due to a disability.
Maternity benefit safeguards the income of an expectant or new mother during the statutory period of maternity leave, when she is not permitted to work. Maternity benefit is paid by the statutory health insurance funds during the pre-natal and post-natal statutory period of leave, and on the day of the birth itself. Only women who have statutory health insurance and who are entitled to be paid sickness benefit (Krankengeld) receive maternity benefit.
The amount of maternity benefit paid depends on the recipient’s average net pay over the last three paid calendar months or thirteen weeks, and it is limited to a maximum of 13 euros per calendar day. To receive maternity benefit, you must submit to your health insurance fund a certificate from a doctor or midwife stating the date when you are expected to give birth.
Employees who are not members of a statutory health insurance fund (because they have private health insurance coverage, for example, or are co-insured in a statutory health insurance scheme as a family member) receive a maximum of 210 euros in maternity benefit in total. The competent agency for this is the Federal Insurance Office (Bundesversicherungsamt), specifically its Maternity Benefit Unit (Mutterschaftsgeldstelle).
If the employee’s daily net pay is higher than 13 euros, the employer makes up the difference; this is known as the employer’s maternity benefit top-up payment.
The cost of childcare depends on the municipality in question. The municipalities meet a large proportion of the costs (regardless of whether the childcare is provided by a municipal or private facility or by a childminder). Parents pay a contribution which is calculated on the basis of the family’s income. Private day care centres are often more expensive than municipal centres.
- A child benefit application can only be made by the parent with whom the child lives.
- The application must be submitted in writing to the Family Benefits Office. The Family Benefits Office does not send a confirmation of receipt. It is therefore advisable to send letters to the Family Benefits Office by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt. You can inquire about the status of the procedure by calling the Family Benefits Office.
- The processing of child benefit applications can currently take up to several months. Once the application has been processed by the Family Benefits Office, you will either receive a decision regarding the application or you will be asked to provide any proof that may be lacking. You should comply with this request as soon as possible in order to avoid further delays.
- After receipt of the application, the Family Benefits Office will only pay you child benefit retrospectively for the past 6 months.
- During the entire application process, you are obliged to inform the Family Benefits Office of any changes in your personal circumstances without being requested to do so. This includes, in particular, changes to your address, your bank details or your employer. Failure to comply with this obligation will lead to delays in the procedure and may also result in the application being rejected.
- If a rejection notice for child benefit is issued, it becomes final after the objection period, meaning 1 month after receipt of the notification. You will then no longer be able to receive child benefit for the period concerned, regardless of whether the rejection of the application was illegal or lawful.
There are many different types of childcare available in Germany. Most child day care centres are run by the municipalities, but many are also run by churches or parents’ initiatives. There are also a growing number of privately run centres.
The following types of childcare exist in Germany:
For children up to 3 years of age:
- Childminders (Tagesmütter/Tagesväter)
- Crèches (Kinderkrippen)
- Mixed-age child day care centres (altersgemischte Kindergärten)
- Parents’ initiatives (Elterninitiativen)
From the age of 3 until children start school:
- Child day care centres (Kindergärten)
- Childminders (Tagesmütter/Tagesväter)
From school age:
- All-day schools (Ganztagsschulen)
- After-school facilities (Horte)
- After-school homework supervision (Hausaufgabenbetreuung), usually organised by private initiatives
The basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld) compensates for 65% to 100% of the loss of income after the child’s birth, depending on the recipient’s net income prior to the birth. The lower the income, the higher the percentage. The minimum amount is 300 euros per month, while the maximum is 1800 euros per month. Parents can receive it for a maximum of 14 months in total and can split this time freely between themselves. One parent can claim the allowance for a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of 12 months. The allowance can only be claimed for the full 14 months if both parents are involved in caring for the child and both suffer a loss of income as a result. As single parents do not have a partner, they can receive the parental allowance for the full 14 months to compensate for their loss of income.
Parental allowance “plus” (ElterngeldPlus) (for births from 1 July 2015 onwards): The parental allowance “plus” is intended for parents who work part-time while receiving the parental allowance. Like the basic parental allowance, it offsets 65% to 100% of the loss of income resulting from working part-time, depending on the recipient’s income. The maximum amount of parental allowance “plus” is half of the basic parental allowance to which the parent would be entitled without any income from part-time work (in other words, a minimum of 150 euros and a maximum of 900 euros per month). However, the parental allowance “plus” is provided for twice as long: one month of the basic parental allowance = two months of the parental allowance “plus”.
Partnership bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus): If both parents work part-time at the same time and work between 25 and 30 hours per week on average in four consecutive months, each parent receives additional monthly payments of the parental allowance “plus” for these four months (partnership bonus).
If you are an employee in Germany, you can take parental leave to care for and bring up a child. To receive parental leave, you must live in the same household as the child. Both parents are entitled to parental leave. Parental leave is considered separately for each parent. During parental leave, parents are allowed to work up to 30 hours per week (in other words, a joint total of up to 60 hours per week).
If your child was born before 1 July 2015, you can take 12 months of parental leave. You can also transfer your parental leave to a period between the child’s third and eighth birthdays, if your employer agrees. Your parental leave can be taken as two separate blocks of leave.
For births from 1 July 2015 onwards, you can take 24 months of parental leave. It is also possible for you to take the leave between the child’s third and eighth birthdays. Your parental leave can be taken as 3 separate blocks of leave. Your employer may only deny you permission to take the third block of leave if there are urgent operational grounds for doing so and your child is 3 or older.
The following priority rules determine which country is responsible for payment:
- In principle, the country responsible is the country where you are employed, self-employed, or receiving a pension.
- If you are entitled to family benefits in two countries because you work on a self-employed or employed basis in both, the country responsible is the one where your child lives. If your child does not live in either of these two countries, but instead in another EU country, the country responsible is the one where the benefits are higher.
- If you are entitled to family benefits in two countries because you are receiving a pension in both, the country responsible is the one where your child lives. If your child does not live in either of these two countries, but instead in another EU country, the country responsible is the one whose social security system you were subject to the longest or where you lived the longest.
- If neither parent is working or receiving a pension, an entitlement to child benefit can only exist in the country where the child lives.
- The Peters family live in Germany. Mr Peters works in the Netherlands and commutes to work each day, while Mrs Peters is a housewife. The family are entitled to German child benefit because they live in Germany. At the same time, they are entitled to child benefit from the Netherlands because Mr Peters works there.
The priority rules state that the Netherlands is primarily responsible for paying child benefit, as an entitlement exists there due to work. However, as child benefit in Germany is higher than in the Netherlands, the family not only receive child benefit from the Netherlands; they also receive the difference compared to German child benefit.
- Mrs Meyer works in Germany. Mr Meyer lives with their daughter in Slovakia, where he receives a pension. Mr Meyer is therefore entitled to child benefit in Slovakia. Mrs Meyer is entitled to child benefit in Germany because she works there.
Germany is primarily responsible, as the entitlement in Germany is due to work, while the entitlement in Slovakia is due to a pension. The family receive German child benefit. As child benefit in Slovakia is lower than in Germany, no additional benefits are received in Slovakia.
Further information can be found in the Federal Employment Agency’s . The last page of the leaflet lists the Family Benefits Offices (Familienkassen) to which you can submit your application for child benefit, depending on which EU Member State you come from.