[:en]Now that I’ve finished my e-book, I (Lorna) have been working on answering various ‘frequently asked questions’, asked by my clients and by new parents or those expecting a new baby on web forums. Elterngeld is a very big topic here so I hope that I can give a short, concise overview.

Elterngeld is a bit of a minefield. There are lots of rules (it wouldn’t be Germany if there weren’t) and even when you think you might be on top of things, a letter from the Elterngeldstelle scuppers your plans for a relaxed post-birth year at home with your baby.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is Elterngeld?

Elterngeld is an income replacement benefit for parents with young children who are reducing their weekly working hours to between 30 and 0 in order to take care of their child(ren) at home.

Who can claim Elterngeld?

Biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and in some cases, grandparents can claim Elterngeld. The prerequisites are that they are caring for the child(ren) in their household and working fewer than 30 hours per week (in any capacity, including freelance and minijob) For the non-German citizens, there are further eligibility criteria such as having the passport of a country in the European Economic Area or if not, having a residence permit that entitles you to work in Germany in any job (you should check in advance with the Elterngeldstelle whether or not you are eligible). Of course, your place of residence needs to be in Germany so an Anmeldung is required. Even if you’re a stay-at-home spouse or partner living in Germany, if you are entitled to work in Germany, you can claim Elterngeld.

How much is Elterngeld?

If you’re employed, Elterngeld is based on your nett individual income, taxed in a country of the European Economic Area, averaged over the last 12 months before your baby is born. Of course, it’s not a straight forward calculation but generally it amounts to around 65%* of the aforementioned amount. Income taxed outside of the EEA doesn’t count for the Elterngeld calculation.

If you’re self-employed or freelance (even if that’s in addition to an employment contract), Elterngeld is calculated based on your profit from the previous tax year. Again, the calculation is aroiund 65% of your average profit over the 12 months of the previous tax year.

Elterngeld is capped at 1,800 Euro. Elterngeld is capped at 1,800 Euro. This means that those earning more than 2770 Euro per month will receive the maximum. The minimum is 300 Euro.

Elterngeld plus is half the amount of Elterngeld, therefore 900 Euro maximum and 150 Euro minimum.

Here is a handy Elterngeld calculator, which gives an indication of how much Elterngeld you might receive.

*The percentage rises, the lower the income.

When/for how long do you get Elterngeld?

Generally, you can claim a minimum of 2 and maximum of 12 months of Elterngeld as an individual and if both of you want to reduce your working hours (i.e. take ‘Elternzeit’- paternity or maternity leave), you can have 14 months in total to share between you. Those with single parent tax status can have 14 months for themselves.

Both parents can claim Elterngeld in parallel.

There are several models, which are customisable to your personal circumstances:

Basis Elterngeld:

Can be claimed within your child’s first 14 months of life. After the 14th month, you can no longer claim Basis Elterngeld.

Elterngeld Plus:

Half of the Basis Elterngeld amount, paid over double the time period of Basis Elterngeld, i.e. up to 24/28 months. Once you surpass your child’s 14th month of life, you cannot have any gaps in your Elterngeld Plus claim, in other words the months have to be consecutive.


An additional 4 Elterngeld Plus months if both parents are working between 25 and 30 hours per week. Those with single parent tax status can claim these months for themselves.


Are the two additional months awarded when both parents take time off or reduce their working hours to take care of their child(ren), meaning you get 14/28 months, rather than 12/24 (Basis Elterngeld/Elterngeld Plus).

Anything else?

If as a mother you are claiming Mutterschaftsgeld -maternity money (co-paid by your health insurance and employer) it’s important to know that for the 8 weeks after the birth, you may effectively lose 2 months of Basis Elterngeld, since the Mutterschaftsgeld usually amounts to 100% of your salary, thus overriding Elterngeld.

Elterngeld is paid out in ‘life months’ of your child e.g. if your baby is born on 15th April, the first ‘life month’ is 15.04-14.05, LM2 is 15.05-14.06 etc.

Elterngeld is paid only 3 months retroactively (so make sure you apply promptly)

Your application may take a while to process so it’s important to save a little money before your baby is born, if possible.

If you give birth to multiples, you receive a 300 Euro bonus for each additional baby.

If you have a child under 3 living in your household, you receive a sibling bonus of 10% of your Elterngeld, minimum 75 Euro per month.

If you have any questions about Elterngeld, get in touch! Maternita offers guidance and support for all your baby-related  paperwork needs.