Updated : 12/2012
When you move abroad, you should be aware that there may be different forms of family benefits, for example:
All countries offer some family benefits but amounts and conditions differ widely. In some countries you will receive regular payments, while in others your family situation may give rise to tax benefits rather than payments. When you move abroad, the types of family benefits you are entitled to may change, which could either increase or reduce your income.
Before moving abroad, contact a European employment adviser to get an idea what family benefits you will be entitled to in your new country. Differences between national systems can have a significant impact on your overall income.
Lisa from Germany is pregnant. She works in Germany and is insured there. Her husband Ole gets a great job in Holland, but Lisa wants him to turn it down because, unlike Germany, Holland does not have child-raising allowances.
Ole can work in Holland. The fact that he works abroad during her maternity leave does not affect her entitlement to benefits under German law as long as her employment contract still runs.
If you and/or your children’s other parent works abroad, you might be entitled to family benefits from different countries.
In such cases, the relevant national authorities will take account of both parents' situations and decide which country has primary responsibility for paying the benefits. Their decision will be based on "priority rules".
If the benefits you receive from the "primary" country turn out to be lower than what you would have received from the "secondary" country where you also had rights (because you work there or because you receive a pension there), the secondary country will pay a supplement equivalent to the difference between the two benefits. In this way, you are ensured of receiving the maximum benefits to which you are entitled.
You live in country A and work in country B. Your children’s other parent works in country A. Child allowances in country A are €50 a month per child but in country B they are €100 a month per child. You are entitled to higher amount — €100 a month per child. The €50 difference will be paid by country B — where you work.
Steve from Luxemburg took up a job in France but continued to live in Luxemburg. So France is now competent for his social security and Steve should apply for child benefits there.
Although his family still lives in Luxembourg, they are not entitled to a child benefit supplement there on the basis of residence only.
Scenario: you are the only parent entitled to family benefits, and you are entitled to family benefits in more than 1 country because:
In all cases, if the family benefits you receive from the primary benefit-paying country are lower than those you would receive in any of the other countries in which you have rights, those other countries will have to pay you a supplement to make up the difference.
Emma from Freiburg, Germany has started a new job across the border in France. The German family-allowances office told her she should apply for family benefits in France as this country is now competent for her social security.
So, Emma should apply for family benefits in France, because she works there, although she still lives in Germany.
Scenario: you and your children's other parent are both entitled to family benefits in more than 1 country because:
The total amount of your family benefits should be equal to the highest benefits available in the countries which are competent for providing family benefits based either on the parent's activity or the receipt of a pension.
If you are divorced and your ex-husband or wife receives benefits but does not use them to maintain your family members, you can contact the family benefits authority in the country where your children live and ask to have the benefits paid direct to you instead, since you are the person who is actually maintaining the family.
You can apply for family benefits in any country where you or your children's other parent are entitled to benefits. The authority in the country in which you apply will share your application with all countries that are competent in your case.
If you apply for benefits in due time in one country, you will be considered to have applied in due time in any other EU country in which you have rights to family benefits. You cannot be refused benefits to which you are entitled because the country where you applied initially forwarded your files too late to the competent authority in another country.
Check with the national authorities what deadlines apply to family benefits. If you miss the deadline, you could lose your entitlement.
National authorities are obliged to cooperate with each other and exchange all the information required to deal with your application. To overcome the difficulties linked to language differences, national administrations use standard documents (former E forms) when exchanging information.
National social security systems differ greatly within Europe
Get information on the family benefits system in the country you are going to — in order to avoid problems and misunderstandings that could have serious consequences: