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Main points about family allowances

Updated on June 14, 2022

Family allowances support you in raising your children. The federal government prescribes minimum rates for child and education allowances. The cantons can set higher allowances and also pay birth and adoption allowances. As a rule, employees and self-employed persons are entitled to family allowances according to the family allowance regulations of the canton in which they work (principle of place of employment). Persons who are not gainfully employed normally receive their family allowances from the cantonal family compensation fund in their canton of residence. In this article, we explain the most important facts in brief.

What are family allowances?

There are three different types of family allowances. These are:

Child allowance

The child allowance is paid for children from birth until they reach the age of 16, provided that the entitlement to education allowances does not begin earlier. It amounts to at least CHF 200 per month in every canton, in certain cantons such as Zug and Geneva even CHF 300 (in Geneva from the third child even CHF 400).

Education allowance

The education allowance is paid as soon as your child is in post-compulsory education such as cantonal school or an apprenticeship, but at the earliest from the age of 15. It is also paid for children over the age of 16, even if they are still in compulsory education. The education allowance amounts to at least CHF 250 per month throughout Switzerland, in certain cantons such as Geneva and Vaud even CHF 400 and in Valais even CHF 425 (again, in all three cantons even higher amounts are paid from the third child onwards).

Birth and adoption allowances

Birth and adoption allowances are not prescribed by law and are only paid in some cantons. The amount of these allowances ranges from a one-time payment of CHF 1,000 to CHF 3,000 and serves to support the costs incurred in connection with birth or adoption.

Who is entitled to family allowances?

You are entitled to family allowances if you are employed or self-employed. Non-employed persons with a low income are also entitled to the allowances, provided that your income does not exceed the cantonal limit. If you are registered as unemployed, you are not entitled to family allowances, but you will receive a supplement to your unemployment benefit. Cross-border commuters and seasonal workers are also entitled to family allowances for their children under certain conditions.

How do I receive family allowances?

If you are employed, your employer must take care of the registration for family allowances. For this purpose, a registration form with the necessary information must be filled out and submitted to the compensation office where the salary contributions are also paid. The family allowances are then normally paid out via the salary. This entitlement also exists for part-time employees, provided that the annual income exceeds CHF 7,170. Otherwise, an application for non-employed persons must be submitted.

If you are self-employed or not gainfully employed, you must submit the application yourself to the family compensation office responsible for you (for non-employed persons, the cantonal compensation office in the canton of residence is responsible). They will then also take care of the payment. If you have forgotten to apply for family allowances, you can claim them for up to 5 years.

Who receives the family allowances if the father and mother are employed?

Only one allowance may be paid for each child. If both parents are employed, have joint parental care and live together with the child, the one who works in the canton of residence is entitled. If both or neither work there, the parent with the higher income subject to AHV becomes eligible. If only one parent has parental care, his or her claim always takes precedence. And in the case of separated parents with joint custody, the one with whom the child lives is entitled. 

Is there an entitlement to family allowances for children living abroad?

There is only an entitlement to family allowances for children living abroad if there is an intergovernmental agreement in this regard. This includes EU and EFTA countries in particular. If both parents are gainfully employed and the other works in an EU or EFTA state, the family allowances are primarily paid in the children's country of residence. However, if the child allowances are higher here, an application can be made for payment of the difference.
Do social security contributions and taxes have to be paid for the family allowances?

The family allowances are counted as taxable income and are therefore also taxed normally. However, no deductions for social security contributions have to be made on the family allowances. 


Are you self-employed, currently not employed or about to form a company and need assistance with the application process for family allowances? We will be happy to advise you, make the necessary inquiries and take care of the correct registration with the compensation office responsible for you. Contact us now!

Oliver Diggelmann

Do you have questions? Get in touch with me, I am happy to help.

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