Non-German parents are struggling to apply for Elterngeld, says Pro Familia

Non-German parents are struggling to apply for Elterngeld, says Pro Familia

More parents in Germany are applying to receive parental allowance (Elterngeld) after the birth of their child. But between changing nappies and feeding hungry newborns, parents with language barriers are struggling to make it through the application process.

Non-German-speaking parents struggle to apply for Elterngeld

According to the German advice service Pro Familia, many new parents in the federal republic who don’t speak German have major difficulties navigating the Elterngeld application process. While it is possible to make a child benefit (Kindergeld) application in 15 different languages, parental allowance applications are only available in German.

Speaking to Migazin, Oda Pranz of Pro Familia in Nuremberg explained that the application process is complicated, even in one’s mother tongue: “In the jungle of guidelines and paragraphs, many feel overwhelmed. Even academics and self-employed people seek our advice." 

Elterngeld is a benefit funded by the German social security system available to new parents who have an EU or German passport or are residents in Germany who want to take paid parental leave from work after the birth of their child. While more and more fathers apply for Elterngeld each year, it is still women who make up the majority of parents receiving the benefit. Elterngeld is also often confused with ElterngeldPlus and the Partnerschaftsbonus, which makes applications even more confusing, says Pranz.

Applying for parental allowance harder than setting up a GmbH

For those who manage to find the benefit application that they are looking for, a long road of bureaucratic jargon, box-ticking and gathering details still lies ahead. Speaking to Migazin, photographer and new parent Simon Malik described the application process that he made with his wife after their son was born: “The form is very long and the concept is complicated”. Before he made the application, colleagues had warned Malik that applying for Elterngeld can be more complicated than setting up a limited liability company (GmbH).

“But there are helpful advice centres,” said Malik. Working in one of these advice centres, Pranz said that countless numbers of confused service users have said how much they wish the application process would be simplified.

Thumb image credit: Regina Burganova /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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