Parental allowance (Elterngeld) is meant to financially support parents while they provide primary care for their newborn child. This state-sponsored benefit can be received for up to 14 months and in some cases longer. It can be taken by one or both parents and may be combined with part-time work. Parents who did not receive income prior to their child's birth (e.g. due to unemployment or home-making) can also apply for parental allowance.
Who can receive parental allowance?
You are eligible for receiving parental allowance if:
- You're an official resident of Germany
- You're either an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen or have (had) a permanent residence permit or a residence permit for employment
- You and your newborn live in the same household
- You're the main caregiver for your newborn
- You earned a taxable income of less than EUR 250,000 (single parent) or less than EUR 500,000 (jointly eligible parents) in the calendar year before the birth of your child
- Your working hours do not exceed 30 hours per week while receiving parental allowance
How much is parental allowance? For how long can it be received?
The duration of the benefit depends on whether you opt for "basic parental allowance" (up to 14 months), "parental allowance plus" (more than 14 months) or a combination of the two, and if you want to make use of the so-called "partner bonus" (additional 4 months).
Basic parental allowance (up to 12 or 14 months)
Basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld) can be taken up by one or both parents. One parent can receive the benefit for at least two and up to 12 months. This can be extended to 14 months if the other parent takes on at least two months of care (Partnermonate). Both parents may divide these 14 months freely. Single parents are always entitled to the full 14 months.
The amount of the benefit depends on the parents' income before the child was born. It typically compensates for 65 per cent of a relatively high income and 100 per cent of a relatively low income, with a minimum of EUR 300 and a maximum of EUR 1,800. Parents without prior income are also entitled to parental allowance.
Parental allowance plus (also valid after 14 months)
Parents may also opt for parental allowance plus (ElterngeldPlus). Here, parents receive one month's worth of benefit spread out over two months. In other words: one month of basic parental allowance equals two months of parental allowance plus. This is a particularly good option if parents want to start working part-time (up to 30 hours a week). Basic parental allowance and parental allowance plus can be freely combined up to 14 months. After this, parental allowance plus is the only benefit that parents can still receive.
Partner bonus (additional 4 months)
Parents who simultaneously work between 25 and 30 hours per week over four consecutive months may each receive four additional months of parental allowance plus benefit. It can also be taken by single parents and co-parents. All four months must be taken by both parents at the same time either before, in between or after receiving parental allowance benefit.
More information, as well as a handy calculator, can be found on the official federal family portal (website in German).
The application for parental allowance must be submitted in writing to the parental allowance department (Elterngeldstelle) of your local district office (Bezirksamt). Find your local parental allowance department by using the authority finder (Behördenfinder - German only). here, please enter the registered address of the child in the first search field, then enter the family name of the child in the second search field.