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Family Benefits


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If you bring your children to Germany and you are citizen of a member state of the EU, the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), or Switzerland you will be entitled to receive child benefits both as a scholarship holder and an employee of Bielefeld University. If you come from any other country you only qualify for benefits if you have:

  • an unlimited settlement permit or
  • a residence permit for the purpose of employment or
  • a residence permit for the purpose of family reunion with a German citizen or a person covered by Points 1 to 3 above
Child Benefits (Kindergeld)

Child benefits are paid until the child's 18th birthday, but may continue up to the age of 25 if the child is still attending school, vocational training, or higher education and has a personal income below 8,004 Euro per year. In exceptional cases, they can also continue to be paid after the age of 25.

You can obtain information on your entitlement to child benefits from the Familienkasse Bielefeld.

Child benefits are always paid to only one entitled person: generally, the parent with whom the child lives. This regulation is important for separated parents. Currently (August 2014), the entitled person receives 190 Euro for each of the first two children, 196 Euro for the third child and 221 Euro for the fourth and each successive child.

If you have an employment contract with Bielefeld University, and are therefore employed in the public sector, you will receive your child benefits directly from your employer, together with your monthly salary.

You can obtain further information on child benefits and application forms to download from the Federal Employment Agency or at the webpage of Euraxess. 

Erhalten Sie kein Kindergeld, so haben Sie trotzdem Anspruch auf Gewährung des Kinderfreibetrags.

Tax Relief for Dependent Children

Instead of child benefits, you can also claim tax relief for dependent children. The tax-free allowance is 152 Euro per month and parent, that is, 304 Euro for two parents who are taxed jointly. In certain circumstances, this tax relief can also be transferred to a stepparent or a grandparent if the child lives in this person's household.

Generally, tax relief is only interesting for parents with a very high income for whom the tax relief may be higher than child benefits. As a rule, the tax office (Finanzamt) examines which option is more advantageous for you when processing your income tax statement (Einkommenssteuererklärung).

Parental Allowance (Elterngeld)

The new parent allowances law (Elterngeldgesetz) came into force on January 1, 2007. As a result, parents of children born on or after this date are entitled to receive parent allowances (Elterngeld).

All parents are eligible for Elterngeld if they personally want to take on the main responsibility for rearing their newborn child during the first 14 months and are therefore unable to take up full employment. Elterngeld is paid to fathers and mothers for a maximum of 14 months, and the two parents can divide this period up between them as they choose. One parent can receive Elterngeld for a maximum of 12 months; the other 2 months are reserved as an option for the other parent. They are paid 67% of their lost income up to a maximum of 1,800 Euro per month. The minimum Elterngeld is 300 Euro.

Elterngeld is available for employed parents, civil servants, self-employed parents, unemployed parents, college students, apprentices, adoptive parents, and, in exceptional cases, third-degree relatives when parents are unable to rear their child because of, for example, serious illness. Persons who work for more than 30 hours per week after the child's birth have no right to Elterngeld.

International scientists who are citizens of a member state of the EU, the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), or Switzerland can also claim Elterngeld. Other international scientists have the right to claim Elterngeld if they have:

an unlimited settlement permit or
a residence permit for the purpose of employment or
a residence permit for the purpose of family reunion with a German citizen or a person covered by Points 1 to 3 above

If you work part-time for a maximum of 30 hours a week after the birth of your child, you will receive 67% of your lost income up to a maximum monthly income before the birth of 2,700 Euro.

You can download the application form for Elterngeld from the Internet pages of the Amt für Jugend und Familie or here. Print it out, fill it in, and send it to the Elterngeldstelle Bielefeld at the following address:

You can obtain further information on Elterngeld from the web pages of the Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Federal Ministry for the Family, Seniors, and Youth).

Maternity Benefits

The Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz, MuSchG) grants particular protection to all employed women during pregnancy and after giving birth. This protection also applies for international scientists who are employed in Germany.

Basically, the official maternity period (Mutterschutzfrist) commences 6 weeks before the anticipated date of delivery. It generally ends 8 weeks after birth, but this is extended to 12 weeks for premature births and multiple births. Hence, all female employees have a right to at least 14 weeks Mutterschutzfrist.

Maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsgeld) are paid by the statutory health insurers during this maternity period before and after birth. You have to give them a certificate from the future mother's medical practitioner specifying the anticipated date of delivery. This certificate must be issued a maximum of 7 weeks before this anticipated date. In addition, you must have been insured by a statutory health insurer for at least 12 weeks between the fourth and tenth months of pregnancy, and you must be able to confirm that you were employed or were receiving Arbeitslosengeld I (ALG I, unemployment benefits paid during the first 12-18 months of unemployment), maintenance payments (Unterhaltsgeld), or Arbeitslosengeld II (ALG II, unemployment benefits paid after the first 12-18 months of unemployment) at the beginning of the Mutterschutzfrist.

You have to apply for Mutterschaftsgeld from your statutory health insurer. If you are employed at the beginning of the Mutterschutzfrist and insured with a statutory health insurer, you are entitled to maternity benefits equal to your current net income. Your Krankenkasse and your employer pay this jointly. The Krankenkasse payments are calculated on the basis of your average net income over the last 3 calendar months. This net income is then converted into a daily rate. If your net income is more than 13 Euro per day, the gesetzliche Krankenkasse pays 13 Euro and your employer has to make up the rest. If your net income is below 390 Euro a month, only the Krankenkasse pays. If, for example, you earn 300 Euro net, the gesetzlichen Krankenkasse will pay you 300 Euro a month during your Mutterschutz.

Housewives are not entitled to Mutterschaftsgeld.

If you are unemployed, you have a right to Mutterschaftsgeld equal to the unemployment benefits you were receiving before the beginning of the Mutterschutzfrist - as long as you were still entitled to unemployment benefits on the first day of the Mutterschutzfrist.

Private insurers generally pay only a one-off maternity benefit of approximately 200 Euro. The employer's contribution is calculated in the same way as for the statutory health insurance. As a result, employed pregnant women generally receive 13 Euro per working day less than those with statutory health insurance. If you have private health insurance, you must send your application for a one-off maternity benefit (Mutterschaftsgeld) to the:

Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 38
53113 Bonn

Telefon: 0228 - 6191888
(daily 9:00 - 12:00, Thursday 9:00 - 12:00 and 13:00 - 15:00)
Fax: 0228 - 6191877
E-Mail: mutterschaftsgeldstelle@bva.de