After overcoming the initial challenges of moving to Germany with kids, expats with children get to enjoy a wide range of benefits.
Relocating to a new country especially with children is quite a big decision and could be very challenging. After you overcome your initial anxiety about the kids' transition, moving to Germany with children can be way more relaxing with the great support offered by the government.
When you have been hired or accepted into a German university, and you want to bring your family, especially your kids, to Germany, how do you proceed?
Obtain the visa for kids
If your nationality requires it, arranging visas for family members is a first step when moving to Germany with kids. In addition, your children also qualify for a German residence permit if you are authorized to live in Germany.
Children who are citizens of a member state of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) don't need a visa to live and study in Germany.
The citizens of third countries will generally need a visa to enter Germany. To obtain a German residence permit as your depended, the children must be under 18 years of age.
Single parents can also apply for visas for their children with the consent of the other parent who is entitled to the custody of the child.
Applying child benefits and parental benefits
You can apply for both child benefit as well as parental benefit as soon as you register in Germany.
Every parent who is a resident in Germany regardless of being a German citizen or not is entitled for child benefits (Kindergeld) if they have children which are registered in Germany.
The kindergeld is provided by the Familienzentrum (Local Family Office) upon submitting an application form. We’ve already detailed the application procedure in another article.
You may also be eligible to receive Elterngeld - a social benefit provided from the German social security system. Parental benefit is given to all parents to have the loss of earnings caused by the time off work due to the birth of your child under certain conditions.
If you live in Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein or Thuringia, you can apply for parental allowance online. A detailed description of the application process can be found here.
Once accepted, both the child benefit as well as the parental benefit, or any other social security benefits are transferred to your bank account monthly.
German school admissions for expat children
After you register in Germany, you can approach the schools in the area you live. Generally, the childrens go to the primary school of the area where you live. However, if you make a special request, you may be able to get to a primary school outside your neighborhood.
In Germany, a child can start school at the age of six. It is common for school authorities to hold Schulanmeldung (school registration days) around six months before the start of the new academic year. There are, however, differences in the procedure between schools in different states. You may contact the schools by email or phone to get more details about their specific admission procedure.
It is important to note that in Germany, failing to send a child to school is a punishable offense.
In every state, preschools and schools have different registration processes. In some states, registration forms must be submitted to the local registry office (Bürgeramt). Depending on the state, the local registry office may assign children to schools, while other states require parents to register their children directly with the school.
Documents required for the school registration in Germany
A health certificate from the State Health Office (Staatliches Gesundheitsamt)
A residency permit, if applicable, is also required
If both parents or you as a single parent are working, and there’s nobody else to take care of the children, you can send the children to a kinderkrippe. Krippes are nurseries that look after the children in the day time. There may be several public and private ones in your area, depending on your location. While the seats will be limited in the kinderkrippe and the demand is higher, it's better to contact them as soon as you arrive.
Additionally, Germany has numerous private and international schools for expat children. The majority of German students attend local schools for free, but many expat families consider sending their children to an international school to help them ease their transition. The reason for this is that the students can continue their education in a language and curriculum that they are familiar with.
Moreover, German international schools usually have small class sizes, excellent facilities, and high academic standards. Some international schools in Germany are part of the public system, but most are privately run. Welcome center Germany has managed to list down a few major international schools in different cities with their contact information.
Parenting in Germany
In general, Germany is considered to be a great place to raise children. Children in German families are taught to be independent as adults by their early ages itself. Rather than raising children under the parents' wings, they see the home as a place to develop children’s individuality and aspirations.
There is a general tendency in Germany to treat children like adults. Consequently, people, including parents, will greet them and speak to them with that in mind. As young adults go to university or become financially independent, most move out of their parents' homes.
The challenges of childcare
As a parent moving to Germany with young children, you should prepare yourself for the fact that securing a place for them in a kindergarten can sometimes be challenging. Although childcare is becoming easier to pay for considering the benefits you may get from the government, getting into a kindergarten would become a challenge.
Despite the city council's central enrolment system, there would hardly be any seats available until the school year begins. Depending on when you move to Germany, you may have to wait until the beginning of an academic year for a school to confirm your child has a seat there.
The kindergartens in Germany are generally better than those in other European countries, according to many expats. As well as being well organized, they have a well-trained staff pool as well.
An additional and perhaps unforeseen challenge every parent may face is the illness of their child. Generally, kids get sick when they start school or kindergarten. Therefore, it is important to learn about insurance in Germany.
Child welfare payments in Germany
A major incentive for parents in Germany is the generous financial support they receive from the government. A concern about the declining birth rate in Germany and the country's demographic future motivated the program.
As compared to most western countries, Germany's social security system offers generous welfare payments to parents with various benefits, tax allowances, and deductions.
As of first January 2021, the first two children who are under 18 years get 219 euros each. The third child gets 225 euros and every child from the fourth child gets 250 euros each until they turn 18.
It is also possible for parents to receive a tax-free child allowance under certain conditions.
Finally, expats with children moving to Germany might be frustrated by the long school admissions waiting period, or finding a kindergarten or kita. In spite of this, they find that the various benefits and support they receive from the government is very helpful.