Child benefit: answers to the most frequently asked questions

Child benefit 2021: For the first and second child you get since the 1. January 2021 monthly 219 euros each. For the third child, the child benefit increases to 225 euros, for each additional child there is 250 euros.

Child benefit: answers to the most frequently asked questions

In the first six years of life, a child costs an average of 679 euros per month. The older the child, the higher the monthly costs will be. Parents already spend an average of 953 euros per month on children aged 12 and over. This is what the Federal Statistical Office has determined.

In order to support families and give parents a helping hand, the state provides a monthly financial injection: child benefit. In this way, the state wants to make sure that parents always have enough money for essentials such as food or clothing for their child.

Who gets child benefit?

In principle, parents of underage children – i.e. children under 18 years of age – are entitled to child benefits. Under certain conditions, however, also beyond that, namely until the child reaches the age of 25. Child benefit for children under the age of 18.

Up to 25. You will receive child benefit on your child’s 18th birthday if .

  • . your child is being trained for a profession or is studying – even for the second training or second course of study.
  • . Your child has to wait for a training or study place.
  • . Your child is doing a voluntary service such as the voluntary social year or the federal voluntary service.
  • . your child takes a break of no more than four months between two educations. The family cash office speaks here of a "compulsory break" or a "transition period".

By the way:

There are special regulations for children with disabilities.

The state allowance is always paid to the person who has taken the child into his or her household. In addition to the biological parents, this can also be the stepparents, the grandparents or the foster parents.

For grandparents there is a special regulation: even if the child does not live in the household of the grandparents, but they pay the grandchild a maintenance pension, you are entitled to the child benefit under certain circumstances. In order for the child benefit to be transferred to the grandparent’s account, the parent who previously received the child benefit should file an application with the family benefits office. Or the grandparent makes the application themselves and the parent agrees in an informal letter.


An adopted child is – from a purely legal point of view – no different from a biological offspring. So you are entitled to the monthly child benefit also for an adopted child.

Do I get child benefit even if I live abroad?

In order to be entitled to child benefits as a German citizen residing abroad, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • You have unlimited tax liability in Germany or are treated accordingly. Unlimited tax liability means that you must pay tax on all income in Germany.
  • you are only subject to limited tax liability in Germany, but are employed in Germany subject to social insurance contributions.

By the way:

What happens to your entitlement to child benefit if you live in Germany but commute to work in a neighboring country, you can read in our article Working in a neighboring country – what applies to cross-border commuters from a tax perspective.

How much child benefit is there?

Whether you are a dishwasher or a millionaire, everyone receives the same amount of child benefit. Because the state subsidy is based only on the number of children, not on the level of income. For the first and second child since the 1. January 2021 per month 215 euros. For the third child, the child benefit increases to 225 euros, for each additional child 250 euros.

Example: The Schmidt family has three children. You receive monthly 219 euros + 219 euros + 225 euros, thus altogether 663 euro child benefit. The family’s fourth child was born in January 2021. Child benefit for the entire family will increase by 250 euros to 913 euros per month.

Child benefit is increased on a regular basis. After the child benefit increase, the child benefit is automatically adjusted to the new contributions; as a child benefit claimant, you do not have to worry about anything.

By the way:

If your family does not live with you in Germany, you may be entitled to family benefits in several countries. The competent national authorities then get an overview of the situation of both parents and decide which country is primarily responsible for providing the benefits. You can read more about this on the website of the European Union.

Important: Receive "family benefits of the same kind from different countries, for example, child allowance from Germany and Polish child allowance (500+), you have to inform the family fund about it. This also applies if there is a "subsequent change in circumstances" you have received the notification from the foreign authority only after you have applied for child benefit. The Polish family benefit is then offset against the child benefit paid in Germany, according to a 2019 ruling by the Federal Fiscal Court, Germany’s highest court for taxes.

When the child benefit is paid?

There are several possible payment dates for the child allowance. The payment can be made at the beginning, middle or end of the month.

This is how you find out when you can expect payment: The Familienkasse, sometimes called the child benefit office, assigns families a child benefit number in writing. The last digit of this column of numbers shows you when the child benefit will be transferred. If the child benefit number ends in 0 or 1, you will receive the money at the beginning of the month. If the last digits are 2 to 7, you will receive the money in the middle of the month; if the number ends with 8 or 9, at the end of the month.

You can find a transfer schedule on the website of the Federal Employment Agency. The transfer date specified there is also the posting date on which the child benefit is credited to your account.

The child benefit is always transferred to your bank account. There is no possibility of cash payment. In addition, the child benefit for one child cannot be split between several accounts.

You do not know your child benefit number? No problem. The family benefits office will send you a notification after the child benefit has been approved. You will also find the child benefit number on this notice. But don’t panic if you don’t have the notice at hand: You can also find your child benefit number on your bank statement.

Child benefit and the tax return

Many things change in the lives of new parents – even the tax return becomes more extensive with a child. In addition to the forms that you have filled out so far, you as parents must also fill out the child annex. Child benefit is tax-free, but you must still enter it in your tax return. The same applies to child benefits paid abroad. In this way, you ensure that the tax office can carry out the favorable tax assessment.

Where and how to apply for child benefit?

Unfortunately, child benefit is not automatically paid from the birth of the child. You usually have to apply for it at the family benefits office of the employment agency. The required forms are available directly from the family benefits office or on the website of the Federal Employment Agency.

Your entitlement to child benefit ends automatically at the end of the month in which your child reaches the age of 18. You have reached the age of 18. Under the above-mentioned conditions, you can also claim child benefit beyond the age of 18. If you receive child benefit after your child’s 60th birthday, you must provide proof of this to the family benefits office and reapply for child benefit. The family benefits office will then send you a written notification of child benefits.

When applying for child benefit, you should have your tax ID handy. Because this number is mandatory for the application. In this way, the family benefits office wants to avoid double payments. You cannot find your tax identification number? Our article What is a tax ID and where can I get one?? explains how to get your tax ID number.

If you forgot to apply for child benefit because you were so excited about having a baby, you can do so later. But you have to hurry: Since 2018, child benefits can only be paid retroactively for six months.

For most members of the public service and recipients of pension benefits, there is a special feature when applying for child benefit. As a rule, the office of the respective employer under public law or the employer’s employer is responsible for determining the remuneration. The family funds of the public service also pay you the child benefit monthly.

What are the special features for an adult child??

Let’s assume that your child is over 18 years old, is in the middle of his or her first degree and is working part-time in a cafe to earn some extra money. Good news for you as parents: If your child’s studies are his or her first professional training, it doesn’t matter how much money he or she earns in a part-time job. You are entitled to child benefit in any case.

The situation is different, however, if your child is doing a second vocational training course. If you as parents want to continue to receive child benefit, your offspring must not work more than 20 hours a week. Otherwise, the part-time job is considered to be the main job – which means that the child is no longer entitled to child benefit.

By the way:

If your child pursues a suitable master’s degree after successfully completing a bachelor’s degree, this is generally not considered a second vocational training program but remains part of the first one. This means: It doesn’t matter how much your child works on the side, they are still entitled to child benefit.

Up to the age of 21. You will also get child benefit for a child who is unemployed when he or she reaches the age of 65. Prerequisite: Your child is registered with the employment agency as a jobseeker.

And if the child is waiting for a training place?

You must also pay attention if your child has successfully completed an apprenticeship and starts another one a few months later. If there are more than four months between the completion of the first training and the start of the second, then this period is no longer considered a transitional period and you are not entitled to child benefit for these months.

To calculate the length of the transition period, the family benefits office needs two points in time: the completion of the first education and the start of the second one. In this context, education is considered completed when the certificate is available in writing and can be downloaded via an online portal, for example, and not when your child actually picks it up. And for the start of the next education the actual start of education will be used. For example, in the case of a course of study, it is not the time of application or enrollment that is decisive, but the serious and sustained start of the training – i.e. attendance at seminars and lectures. Only if this period is shorter than four months, it is considered a transitional period and you are entitled to child benefit.

Irrespective of this, the family benefits office can still pay you child benefit for the period when the child is applying for an apprenticeship or a course of study. This does not change the calculation of the transition period. This was decided by the Federal Fiscal Court, Germany’s highest court for taxes, in 2021 (Case number III R 40/19).

And when the child gets married?

If your child is under 25 years old, is just learning a trade and is getting married, you are still entitled to child benefit. Whether your child is married or not does not matter. This was decided by the Federal Fiscal Court, Germany’s highest court for taxes. But the same rules apply here as above: If the child is in the first education, he or she can earn as much as he or she wants on the side – you will continue to receive child benefits. However, if the child is in the second education and works more than 20 hours per week, your entitlement to child benefit expires.

What is the difference between child benefit and child allowance??

If you receive child benefit, you are also entitled to the so-called child allowance. However, you cannot have it both ways: Either you get child benefit or the child allowance. The tax office checks what is financially more favorable for you within the framework of a so-called favorability test. This also applies to the child-rearing or care allowance.

By the way

The Corona child bonus of 300 euros per child must be entered in the 2020 income tax return together with the regular child benefit, thus increasing the child benefit amount. So in some cases the child benefit will no longer be more favorable, but the child allowance will be.

When do you get the child allowance?

The child supplement, also known as child allowance, is an additional financial support for low-income earners. Child allowance is available, similar to child benefit, for children under the age of 25 who are unmarried and live in the household of their parents. You must also meet the following requirements in order to receive the child supplement:

  • You must be entitled to child benefit.
  • you as parents reach the minimum income limit of 900 euros for married couples, resp. 600 euros for single parents.
  • Your income does not exceed your personal maximum income limit, which is calculated individually by the family benefits office.
  • You must not receive unemployment benefit II.

If you are entitled to child supplement, you can apply to the family benefits office and, since 2021, you will receive up to an additional 205 euros per child and per month. How much money you actually get depends, among other things, on the income and assets of you, your partner and your child. You can check whether you meet the requirements here: KiZ-Lotse.

The child supplement is usually approved for six months and paid out together with the child benefit on the same day. This also means that it is usually transferred to the person who also receives the child benefit.

Important: The child supplement is tax-free and – in contrast to child benefit – does not have to be entered in the tax return "Anlage Kind".

Child supplement in the Corona crisis

Because of the Corona crisis, the monthly child supplement had been converted into an "emergency KiZ" in 2020. The difference to the normal KiZ: For applications from 1. April 2020, the test was based only on the parents’ income in the previous month. Normally, the income average of the past six months is decisive. Thus, for applications in April 2020, the income of March 2020 was relevant, for applications in May 2020, that of April 2020, and so on.

In addition, because of the Corona pandemic, parents who already receive the maximum rate of 205 euros will automatically receive a six-month extension of the benefit. You do not have to file a new application and do not have to submit any new evidence.

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