All parents in Germany are entitled to benefits to offset the cost of raising children. The German social security system provides various benefits, tax allowances and deductions that families and single parents in Germany can take advantage of.
Child benefit (Kindergeld)
The child benefit is a monthly payment given to all parents in Germany, regardless of their income, to ensure that their children’s basic needs are covered. The German child benefit is provided by the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse) at the Federal Employment Agency.
Who can claim child benefit?
German and EU citizens are entitled to child benefit, as long as your place of residence is in Germany. If you are a foreign national living in Germany, you can receive child benefit if you have a valid temporary residence permit or settlement permit. Usually, you must not be receiving any similar benefit in your home country or anywhere else.
Child benefit can only be claimed by one parent, so married couples will need to decide who receives it. If you and your partner are separated, the parent who has primary custody should claim child benefit. If a child is living with you but you are not their parent, you can still claim child benefit for them.
Child benefit age limit
Usually, you can continue claiming child benefit until your child reaches the age of 18. There are, however, certain exceptions whereby you can continue to receive payments beyond this age limit:
- If your child is unemployed and registered as a job-seeker with an Employment Agency (up to age 21).
- If your child is in education or training (up to age 25 or the completion of their first vocational qualification or degree).
- If your child has a disability and cannot support themselves (up to age 25).
How much child benefit will I receive?
The child benefit is paid monthly, usually directly into the parent’s bank account or in cash. The same amount is paid to everyone, regardless of the parents’ income, and is dependent on the number of children you have:
- 204 euros each for the first two children.
- 210 euros for the third child.
- 235 euros for the fourth and each additional child.
If you are on a low income you may be eligible for the Family Benefits Office’s supplementary child allowance (see below).
How to apply for child benefit
You can apply for child benefit by submitting a form to your local Family Benefits Office. You can also download and fill out the form in advance from the office's website. You may need to provide your child’s birth certificate and tax ID.
Tax-free allowance for children (Kinderfreibetrag)
Under certain conditions, a tax-free child allowance may also be granted to parents. As of 2020, this is 5.172 euros per child for a married couple or 3.810 euros for a single parent. When assessing your income tax, the tax office (Finanzamt) will compare the amount of child benefit you have already received to the amount you could save if the tax-free child allowance were granted to you.
The option most favourable to you will be chosen by the tax office. If you are granted the child allowance, the tax relief given will be offset against the child benefit payments you have already received.
Tax deductions for children
Parents can also make further tax savings by deducting their expenses for childcare (up to 4.000 euros a year) and school fees (up to 5.000 euros a year). The tax relief from these allowances will also be balanced against the amount of child benefit you have already received. For more details on how to request tax deductions, visit our Annual tax return page.
Supplementary child allowance (Kinderzuschlag)
As well as child benefit, certain parents are entitled to claim a supplementary child allowance (currently up to 185 euros per month) for each unmarried child who is under the age of 25 and lives in their household. In order to qualify, you need to fulfil certain conditions:
- You receive child benefit for the child.
- You earn at least 900 euros per month before deductions (600 euros for single parents).
- You earn less than the maximum income limit (varies according to the parents’ cost of living and is calculated individually by the Family Benefits Office).
The exact amount you will receive is determined by your income and assets. You can also claim extra assistance for things such as school trips, school supplies and meals. If your child has any income (e.g. maintenance payments), this will be deducted from the supplementary child allowance. You can apply for the supplementary child allowance from the Family Benefits Office at the same time you apply for your child benefit.
Maintenance advance (Unterhaltsvorschuss)
For single parents who receive no maintenance from the other parent, there is a special supplementary payment to help cover costs. The amount of maintenance advance you will receive depends on the child’s age:
|Up to 5 years||165 euros per month|
|6-11 years (inclusive)||220 euros per month|
|12-17 years (inclusive)*||293 euros per month|
* In order to qualify, children above the age of 12 and their parents must not be in receipt of unemployment benefit II.
To apply for the advance, you will need to visit your local Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt), who can provide you with a form to fill out. You will need to bring a valid form of ID, your registration certificate, residence permit (if applicable), and your child’s birth certificate. You will also need to provide proof of your family situation (e.g. proof of divorce or long-term separation).
Federal Parental Allowance (Elterngeld)
New parents who fulfil certain conditions are also eligible for the parental allowance. This income-replacement benefit is important for offsetting the loss of earnings caused by the birth of a child, enabling parents to rest and spend time with their newborn children.