Children's Allowance - Kindergeld in Germany
Germany offers a variety of children allowances and benefits. Kindergeld is probably the most well known of these.
Updated - January 2016
Taxpaying expatriate residents of Germany are, like Germans, entitled to Kindergeld if they have children. This is an allowance (also called a Child Benefit) from the German government to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It can run from €190 to €221 per child per month, and is usually made by a fund transfer into a German bank account.
Just about any taxpayer living in Germany with children can get the Kindergeld, whether employed, self employed or independent. You get it as a rule until the children turn 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school or meet other requirements for an extension. Starting in January 2016 the benefit has been raised to €190 per month for each of the first two children, €196 for the third child and €221 for each subsequent one.
Adopted and foster children qualify you for the Kindergeld, as do children of your spouse and your grandchildren if they live in your household. Some people living abroad may also be eligible for Kindergeld if they meet certain German unrestricted income tax payment obligations or other requirements. You can find out about the exact requirements from the German authorities.
In most cases it is the parents who are entitled to the money, not the children, though an exception can be made in the case of orphans, or parents whose whereabouts are unknown.
Starting in 2016 an application for Kindergeld has to include the child's Tax ID number (steuerliche Identifikationsnummer). The new application forms have been changed accordingly. This number is normally issued by the Federal Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steueren – BZSt) shortly after a child is born and registered at the local Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Germany. In the case of immigrant children, the number is assigned when the child is registered at the Einwohnermeldeamt.
Although the Federal Tax Office has been automatically issuing a Tax ID number to children since 2008, they are just now requiring the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse) to have the number on record for anyone who collects benefits.
A child's Tax ID number can be found on a taxpayer's Withholding Tax Card (Lohnsteuerkarte) or on the income tax summary (Einkommensteuerbescheid) sent by the local tax authorities (Finanzamt) after they review and approve the yearly tax declaration.
A child's Tax ID number has to be submitted and put on record at the Family Benefits Office by all beneficiaries by the end of 2016. This also includes a Tax ID number for children who were born before 2008 and who may not yet have been issued Tax ID number. The authorities will be contacting beneficiaries to inform them of this new development. It is possible to get the required Tax ID number by contacting the local tax office. Failure to comply may result in having to pay back benefits.
You apply for Kindergeld at the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse) of the local Labor Office (Agentur für Arbeit), with written forms that must be signed. Another party can make the application if you grant them power of attorney.
You can download English language pdf copies of the various application forms here:
- Kindergeld Basic Application
- Kindergeld Appendix for child living in Germany
- Kindergeld Other Country Appendix - for at least one child or one parent living or employed or receiving benefits in another country; also if one parent is a member of the NATO armed forces stationed in Germany
You can also download these forms in English and other languages directly from the Labor Office website at this link
An oral application, as with a phone call, or an application by e-mail is not possible.
Other things you may need to submit include:
- Birth Certificate - original birth certificate of your child, translations of them if they are not in German
- Your passport
- Proof of residence permit
- Proof of residency registration (Haushaltbescheinigung)
Be sure to report it if you are getting child support money from another country.
Once your employment ends or you or your children leave Germany, you must notify the agency that pays you Kindergeld to stop the payments. Failure to make such notification will give rise to claims for repayment of any amounts improperly received.
For information on Kindergeld in English you can visit the website of the Labor Office (Agentur für Arbeit).
Click here to download an English language brochure in pdf format from the Agentur für Arbeit.