FOR MEMBERS

What you should know about the Swiss government’s child support payments

What you should know about the Swiss government's child support payments
Child benefits in Switzerland are at least 200 francs a month. Photo by cottonbro on Pexels
Called ‘Familienzulagen’ in German, ‘allocations familiales’ in French and ‘assegni familiari’ in Italian, this financial aid is given to residents of Switzerland who have children. This is how this system works.

The purpose of child support benefits — called in Switzerland the family allowance — “should partly compensate the costs that arise for parents in relation to dependent children”. This includes both biological and adopted children.

Who is entitled to receive these benefits?

Anyone who is employed or self-employed, and earns at least 592 francs a month can claim family allowances.

Those not working are also entitled to the benefits, unless their annual taxable income exceeds 42,660 francs.

How much is the family allowance?

At least 200 francs a month is paid for each child up to 16 years of age, which is when the compulsory education ends in Switzerland.

 However, children with chronic illnesses or disabilities are entitled to receive allowances until they turn 20.

This is the minimum amount mandated by law, but some cantons pay more. For instance, Geneva’s allowance is 300 francs per child.

To find out what the rules are in your canton of residence, click here.

But the payments don’t stop at 16. If the child is still studying or is in vocational training, they are entitled to receive 250 francs a month until they turn 25.

READ MORE: Cost of living: The most – and least – expensive cantons in Switzerland

What about foreign residents?

If you live and work in Switzerland — and therefore pay taxes here — then you have the right to receive child benefits the same way as Swiss citizens.

This also applies if you are a cross-border worker: you can claim Swiss family allowances, even if your children live in an EU or EFTA country.

But if your partner works in your home country (France, Italy, Germany, or Austria), then you will receive the family allowance there. You will, however, be paid any difference between that amount and the family allowance payable in Switzerland.

This is how you can apply for child benefits

The payments will not come automatically when your child is born or adopted. The parent with the highest income must apply for these benefits. If you don’t do this immediately, or if for some reason payments are delayed, you can claim up to five years of arrears.

If you are employed, you will have to apply to your employer for family allowance. They will forward your application to the cantonal department in charge of family allowances, and you will receive  payments on monthly basis.

If you are self-employed or not working at all, contact the family compensation fund for guidelines on how to apply.

These are the relevant links in German, French and Italian.

You must also report to these authorities any changes in your personal, financial and professional situation, as they may impact your eligibility for the allowances.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What cross-border workers should know about taxation in Switzerland


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