Kindergeld in Germany [Everything you need to know]

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Kindergeld in Germany is one of the many social benefits offered by the German government to families in Germany. The social system in Germany is renowned worldwide, and Kindergeld, next to Elterngeld, allow young families to receive financial support. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know in detail.

What is Kindergeld in Germany?

Kindergeld in Germany is the universal child benefit every parent in Germany is entitled to, regardless of their financial situation or income. It is in place to guarantee that every child’s basic needs are covered. The Kindergeld is a fixed sum paid monthly per child by the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse), handled by the Federal Employment Agency in Germany (Arbeitsagentur für Arbeit).

How much is Kindergeld in Germany?

The exact amount of Kindergeld you can receive in 2021 depends on the number of children you have:

  • 219 euros for your first two children
  • 225 euros for your third child
  • 250 euros for each additional child

Who can claim Kindergeld in Germany?

Every parent, regardless of nationality, can apply for Kindergeld, as long as you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a tax-paying resident in Germany, or you have acquired German citizenship and have your residence in the EU, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway, or Iceland
  • Your child is younger than 18 years, or one of the following exceptions applies:
    • Your child is unemployed and registered as a job-seeker with the Employment Agency (until age 21)
    • Your child can’t support itself due to a disability that occurred before the age of 25 (no age limit)
    • Your child is studying, volunteering, or in vocational training (until age 25 or the completion of their first degree or vocational certificate)

– You care for your child, and your child lives with you most of the time

Following these criteria, not only parents can apply for child benefit, but any adult who is directly caring for a child and living with that child. This could be:

  • Grandparents 
  • Adoptive parents
  • Foster parents
  • Guardians or carers
  • Step-parents

In case a child’s parents are separated and share custody, you must decide with your ex-partner who shall receive the Kindergeld payment, as only one person can be the beneficiary. 

How to apply for Kindergeld in Germany?

To apply for Kindergeld in Germany, you need to fill in the Antrag auf Kindergeld, print and sign it (both parents!), and send it via postal mail to your local Employment Agency (Arbeitsagentur für Arbeit). You can find the respective office and address by entering your postal code on their page. 

Related Guide: How To Send A Letter In Germany

To fill out this form, you will need to have your tax ID at hand. The form is pretty straightforward, except for number 6. Reckonable children (Zählkinder) refer to children you might have from previous relationships for which you are not the recipient of the Kindergeld. In that case, these children still add to the count of children and therefore increase the child benefit amount for the child you are applying for.

Additionally, to this main form, you will have to complete a few other forms. You need to complete the ‘Appendix: Child form per child that you are applying for. You can apply for child benefit for up to six months retrospectively. If your child already received their tax ID, you need to fill it in this form. You will receive the tax ID for a newborn child in Germany a few days after birth via postal mail. If you moved to Germany with your child, you should receive the tax ID along with yours after having registered your address

As a Non-EU/EEA citizen, you need to include a copy of your residence permit. If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you need to complete the EU Annex’ additionally. Unlike the previous forms, this one is only available in German. If you are employed, your employer also needs to fill in the second page of the form. 

How long does it take to get Kindergeld?

Once you sent your application, you will receive a reply via postal mail within three weeks to two months. If approved, the child benefit money will regularly flow into your bank account. If denied, you have up to one month to appeal or hand in further documents.

How to apply for Kindergeld for additional children?

Should you have more children, after applying for Kindergeld for the first time, you don’t have to fill in all forms again. Instead, you can simply amend your previous application. You can do this with the change notice form ‘Veränderungsmitteilung’. You need to tick the fourth main box, ‘Die Anzahl der in meinem Haushalt lebenden Kinder hat sich geändert’, and fill in the data for your new child. 

Should any other circumstances change, e.g., your address or marital status, you also need to complete this form to let the Familienkasse know. 

Is Kindergeld taxable in Germany?

No, Kindergeld is tax-free in Germany. As a parent, you should, however, file a tax declaration each year to benefit from other tax savings, such as expenses for childcare and school fees (if you choose a private school). 

Related Guide: How To File A Tax Declaration In Germany

Tax-free allowance for children (Kinderfreibetrag)

When declaring your taxes, the tax authorities (Finanzamt) will compare the amount of child benefits you have received to the potential tax-free child allowance (Kinderfreibetrag) you are entitled to. In 2021, each parent is entitled to 4.194 euros or both parents together to 8.388 euros per child of tax-free child allowance.  

The Finanzamt will choose the option that is most beneficial to you. Should the tax-free child allowance be more beneficial to you, the tax relief will be offset against the received child benefit, as you cannot benefit from both Kindergeld and Kinderfreibetrag

Kinderfreibetrag vs. Kindergeld – which one is better?

Let me help you understand this complex topic with an example.

Two parents have a small child and have a yearly taxable income of 50.000 euros. Without the tax-free child allowance, they would need to pay around 7.252 euros in taxes. With the tax-free child allowance, the 8.388 euros get subtracted from the 50.000 euros to reduce the taxable income to 41.612. In this case, the family would only need to pay around 4.952 euros in taxes. 

Now it gets interesting. The difference between the taxes with and without the child allowance is 2.300 euros, which the young family would save with the tax-free child allowance. However, in the last year, they have received 2.628 euros as child benefit. In this case, the tax-free child allowance is not beneficial for the family and won’t be used by the Finanzamt

Additionally, you should know that you receive Kindergeld every month, while you would only benefit from the Kinderfreibetrag once a year when filing your tax return.

How to cancel Kindergeld?

Should you leave Germany for good, you need to cancel your application for Kindergeld. You can do so with the change notice form ‘Veränderungsmitteilung’. You need to complete the fifth main box, ‘Beschäftigung im Ausland’.

Final Thoughts

Kindergeld is one of the many social benefits for families in Germany, which you should definitely use. This article is designed to save you time and help you understand German bureaucracy. However, if you feel like you have unanswered questions or you are in a unique situation, you can always scan the official 15-page child benefit leaflet

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Yvonne
About the author: Yvonne was born and raised in Germany and has lived in the United States, France, and Spain. She understands the struggle of settling in a new home and is happy to share simple services and tips on how things are done in her home country, to help expats get their German experience started.