Applying for child benefit (Kindergeld)
You can obtain child benefit for your children provided you satisfy certain conditions. The following are considered as children:
- children who are first-degree relatives (legitimate, legitimated, illegitimate and adopted children),
- children of your spouse (stepchildren) and grandchildren whom you have taken into your household
- foster children with whom you are connected by a family-like bond on a long-term basis.
In the current calendar year, child benefit is initially paid as a tax rebate equivalent to the minimum required for the child’s subsistence. The monthly amounts are:
- for the first and second child: EUR 190.00 each
- for the third child: EUR 196.00
- for each additional child: EUR 221.00
The minimum subsistence level encompasses the costs of childcare, education and/or training for the child. If the child benefit amount exceeds this, the remainder serves to support the family.
Note: The tax office does not usually take the tax-exempt amounts for children into consideration when deducting income tax. When carrying out the income tax assessment, the tax authorities will then check whether the tax exemption for the child’s minimum subsistence level was actually reached by paying child benefit. If this is not the case, the tax-exempt amounts for children will be deducted and the child benefit owing will be added to the agreed income tax. This also applies if you have not applied for child benefit. It is enough to be entitled to child benefit.
Tip: You will find detailed information about child benefit and relevant leaflets on the website of the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamts für Steuern (BZSt)). The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) also provides information about “child benefit on its website.
- the Institution responsible for paying child benefit (Familienkasse) at the employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit) of the district in which you live or have your habitual residence)
- for those belonging to the civil service: the office of the public-sector employer or civil service employer who is responsible for setting your benefit
The prerequisites for receiving child benefit are:
- Your principal residence is in Germany, or you ordinarily reside here, or
- you live abroad but
- are subject to an unrestricted obligation to pay income tax in Germany or
- are treated as a resident for tax purposes.
You will receive child benefit for all children up to the age of 17. Children aged 18 and over must satisfy additional requirements (e.g. evidence of training agreement).
You must apply for child benefit in writing. The institution responsible for paying child benefit has application forms available. Complete and sign the form and send it the authority responsible for approving child benefit payments. You can also submit the application in person.
If you are a civil servant, send your application to the office of the public-sector employer or civil service employer who is responsible for setting your benefits.
Tip: You can obtain application forms and numerous forms for certificates through the internet from the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt).
N.B. You cannot apply verbally (e.g. by phone)! The application can also be submitted by a person with written authorisation (e.g. by your tax consultant).
The institution responsible for paying child benefit will transfer the child benefit into your bank account every month. If you are a civil servant, it will be paid to you directly by your public-sector employer or civil service employer.
- for children aged up to 17 years:
- for children living in your household: statement from the registration authority confirming the number
- for children living outside your household: certificate of existence from the registration authority
- birth certificate if it is presented within six months of the birth of the child and the place of residence is stated in it
- Additional documents will be required for children aged 18 and over depending on the case, e.g.
- school, training or higher education certificate
- evidence of contractually agreed working hours
- for disabled children:
- disability card or
- assessment notice from the rural district office (Landratsamt) or
- pension approval notice
Tip: You will find more details in the leaflets on child benefit published by the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt).
You can apply for child benefit at any time. You can claim child benefit retroactively for a maximum of four calendar years and for the current calendar year.
A child supplement may also be paid to parents on a low income.
- § 62 Einkommensteuergesetz (EstG) (Anspruchsberechtigte)
- § 63 Einkommensteuergesetz (EstG) (Kinder)
- § 66 Einkommensteuergesetz (EstG) (Höhe des Kindergeldes, Zahlungszeitraum)
- § 1 Bundeskindergeldgesetz (BKGG) (Anspruchsberechtigte)
- § 2 Bundeskindergeldgesetz (BKGG) (Kinder)
- § 6 Bundeskindergeldgesetz (BKGG) (Höhe des Kindergeldes)
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Finanzministerium, represented by the Oberfinanzdirektion Karlsruhe, released it on 08.11.2016. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.