If you plan to start a family in Germany, you should be excited about the multiple benefits the German government provides to new families. The family benefits include maternity leave, parental leave, and parental allowance.
In this guide, we will talk about everything you need to know regarding parental allowance, a.k.a. Elterngeld.
Table of Contents
What is parental allowance in Germany?
Parental allowance (Elterngeld) is a benefit provided by the German government to new parents. This allowance supports the costs of bringing up a child. New parents receive between 300 and 1.800 euros a month as parental allowance. The amount depends on the income the parents had before the child was born.
You are eligible to receive a monthly parental allowance from the moment your child is born. Keep in mind that the month is not a calendar month, but is based on the months of your child’s life.
For example, if your kid was born on December 22nd (perfect Christmas present by the way), then the months are calculated as follows:
- 1st month: from December 22nd to January 21st
- 2nd month: from January 22nd to February 21st … and so on
Who can receive parental benefits in Germany?
Any new parent is eligible for parental allowance, as long as you meet the following requirements:
- You live in Germany as an EU citizen, or with a temporary or permanent residence permit that allows you to work in Germany
- You and your kid live under the same roof
- You don’t work at all or work less than 32 hours per week
You can request parental allowance to take care of:
- Your biological child
- The biological child of your wife or husband or your life partner
- Your stepkids – If you have applied for adopting them, even though the application is still being processed
- Your adopted child – even if the process is not complete
- Your grandchild, great-grandchild, niece, nephew, or sibling – under certain circumstances
Unlike parental leave, you can apply for parental allowance even if you did not work before your child’s birth. Also, the type of employment does not matter. Elterngeld is available for:
- Civil servants
- Students and trainees (EU citizens only)
- Stay-at-home mothers or fathers
- Part-time workers
- People with mini-jobs
- People who work abroad under a German contract
Parental allowance is also given out to parents even if their kids are being looked after by other people during parts of the day (e.g., au pairs, relatives, daycare).
For how long can you receive parental allowance in Germany?
You can receive Elterngeld for a minimum of two months and a maximum of 24 months, depending on the type of allowance you apply for.
There are three types of parental allowance: basic, plus, and partnership bonus. You can combine them with one another.
You and your partner can divide the months freely amongst yourselves. You can receive basic parental allowance together, one after the other, or alternately.
If you and your partner receive Elterngeld at the same time, this counts as two months of your parental allowance.
1. Basic parental allowance
You can receive basic parental allowance for a minimum period of two months and up to twelve months.
If you and your partner apply for basic parental allowance, and at least one of you has less income after your kid is born, you can extend the period up to 14 months. You can also extend the period if you are a single parent.
You can only receive basic parental allowance in the first 14 months of your child’s life. If you want to apply for Elterngeld after this period, you need to request parental allowance plus.
2. Parental allowance plus (Elterngeld Plus)
Parental allowance plus allows parents to extend their Elterngeld for up to 28 months.
Elterngeld Plus is especially beneficial for parents who want to work part-time (up to 32 hours a week) after their child is born. In this case, the difference of how much Elterngeld you will receive is quite big, whether you apply for the basic Elterngeld or Elterngeld Plus. You can find an example calculation further down under the section of ‘How much parental allowance will you receive?’.
3. Partnership bonus
If both parents work for 24-32 hours per week for four consecutive months, each one is eligible to receive four additional months of Elterngeld Plus.
You can also apply to this bonus if you and your partner are separated or if you are a single parent.
How much parental allowance will you receive in Germany?
The amount of money you will receive as parental allowance depends on the following criteria:
- The type of allowance you apply for: basic or plus
- The income you received before your kid was born
- If you decide to work part-time after your child’s birth
- If you receive any other state benefits
- The number of babies you have given birth to (twins, triplets, etc)
- The number of young kids you already have
If you apply to basic parental allowance, you can expect to receive between 300 and 1.800 euros per month. As a rule, it is 65% of your net income before giving birth.
If you apply to parental allowance plus, you can expect to receive between 150 and 900 euros per month. The amount of parental allowance plus is limited to half of what you would theoretically receive as basic parental allowance.
Here is an example from Familienportal.de, that hopefully will help you understand this better:
The calculation of parental allowance is a very complex one. Even Germans struggle to understand what is most beneficial for them and their family. This is why we highly recommend dasElterngeld – an app that simplifies the process and lets you fill out your Elterngeld application in 30 minutes, instead of several days and 30 pages of governmental German!
DasElterngeld is only available in German. Their app is very friendly to use, though. If you don’t understand something, you can always use the ‘Translate to English’ option in Chrome or chat directly with their customer service.
How and where can I apply for the parental allowance in Germany?
You will need to fill out an official parental allowance form, and submit it to your local parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle). You may find your regional office on the official website of the Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth.
Additional to the form, you will need to provide some other documents, which might include:
- Your kid’s birth certificate
- German ID card or passport
- Proof of income – either your bank account statements or your work contract
If you submitted your application correctly, you should hear back from your regional office within four weeks through snail mail.
Be aware that doing this process might be a very bureaucratic experience. You can save time and headaches by using a tool like dasElterngeld.
DasElterngeld is a German startup that strives to break German bureaucracy by simplifying an overly complicated process. On average, users are able to fill out their Elterngeld form in 30 to 45 minutes.
You can complete the form for free, and receive useful tips throughout the process. Also, as a plus, you can always consult with a real person.
Once you have completed the form, you will get a bundle of documents which include: the official Elterngeld form filled out, a checklist of additional documents you need to attach to your application, and the address to where you need to send your form. Eazy peazy!
If you wish to download the documents, you will need to pay 24.99 euros. Users claim that these are the best 25 euros they have spent in a long time.
Do I have to take parental leave to receive parental allowance?
No, you do not need to take parental leave to receive Elterngeld in Germany. The only condition you need to meet is not to work more than 32 hours per week.
Elterngeld or parental allowance in Germany is a great social benefit for new families. Everyone receives this social benefit, regardless of whether they work or not. If you do work, you cannot do so for more than 32 hours per week.
You can get up to 1.800 euros a month, and you may receive Elterngeld for up to 24 months.
The calculation of how long and how much you should plan to get Elterngeld can be a very complex one.
You can read the official 150 page PDF from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth and try to figure it out on your own, or use a tool like dasElterngeld, which can help you jump the bureaucracy and be a lifesaver!
Congrats on the new member of your family, and we wish you the best of luck!