Cross-border family benefits in the EU

In principle, persons whose centre of main interests is in Austria are entitled to family benefits in Austria. Registration of residence in Austria or Austrian or EU citizenship is therefore not sufficient in itself.

Advice

The Childcare Allowance Helpline can be contacted regarding questions about the childcare allowance in Austria from Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the free telephone number 0800 240 014
The Federal Family Service is available to answer questions about family allowances and can be contacted on the free telephone number 0800 240 262 from Monday to Thursday between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. or by email via familienservice@bka.gv.at.

In order to reduce waiting time, the question of which state has competence for the payment of family benefits should be clarified in advance if there is any doubt, and the application should first be submitted in the State having primary competence.

Responsibility under the EU regulation

For citizens of EU Member States, EEA States and Switzerland, the EU regulation on the coordination of social security systems regulates competences in cross-border cases. Under certain conditions they are entitled to Austrian family benefits (family allowances and childcare allowance). However, overlapping benefits in several countries are excluded and will result in recoveries. It is also not possible to choose which State is responsible.

Pursuant to the EU regulation, the EU member state in which a parent is employed and insured has primary competence for the payment of family benefits (State of employment principle). Supplementary payments may be due in the State in which the family has its centre of main interests (State of residence) if the family benefits of the State of employment are lower.

If both parents are employed in different States, family benefits must be granted with priority in the State of employment in which the child lives with the parents (State of residence principle; this is the State in which they have their centre of main interests). The other State of employment may have to grant supplementary payments.

Tip

These rules also apply to separated or divorced parents. There are special rules for posted workers, civil servants or those working in several countries and pensioners etc.

Criteria for employment

Pursuant to the EU Regulation, the term ‘employment’ refers to activity as an employed or self-employed person in Austria that is actually pursued. Under certain conditions, the period of statutory maternity leave from employment in Austria after the maternity protection period following employment is deemed to be equivalent to such employment.

In the case of childcare allowance, only an activity that is subject to compulsory sickness and pension insurance is regarded as employment within the meaning of the EU regulation. The following are not covered by the concept of employment: Minor employment, activities falling below the threshold for compulsory (sickness and pension) insurance, existing employment contracts (not involving gainful employment) or gaps in employment and long-service leave even if insurance continues to be compulsory and remuneration continues to be paid (special leave, sabbatical etc.)

There is an exception with regard to childcare allowance. Under certain conditions, the period of statutory maternity leave from employment in Austria after the maternity protection period following employment is deemed to be equivalent to employment subject to compulsory sickness and pension insurance. These conditions are:

  • the pursuit of an activity subject to social insurance contributions in the 182-day period preceding that period without receiving unemployment insurance benefits during that period
  • a valid employment relationship existing throughout the period; a confirmation of maternity leave (nationally standardised form) issued by the Austrian employer must be submitted
  • special leave agreed with the employer is not regarded as employment within the meaning of the aforementioned EU Regulation

Change of responsibility

If the family’s circumstances change, the State’s responsibility for family benefits may also change. This includes, for example, a transfer of residence and/or employment to Austria or another EU Member State or termination of employment.

Advice

change of responsibility will not take effect until the first day of the following calendar month. All relevant changes must be notified to the sickness insurance institution without delay (notification obligation) in order to avoid any recoveries or loss of claims.

Supplementary payments in respect of the childcare allowance

If a family lives in an EU Member State other than that in which one of the parents is employed, there may be a right to supplementary payments in the country of residence. This is the difference between the foreign childcare allowance and the Austrian childcare allowance; in this regard, it is irrelevant which parent applies for or receives the benefits.

Supplementary payments are applied for in Austria using the childcare allowance application form. The processing time will be reduced if all relevant documents and evidence of the personal and employment situation are submitted together with the form.

Supplementary payments in respect of the family allowance

The supplementary payment is the difference between the foreign benefit and the Austrian family allowance. It is applied for in Austria using the supplementary payment application form.

Tip

The application for family benefits should be submitted in the Member State which has primary responsibility for the provision of family benefits. The other Member State may calculate the amount of the supplementary payment subsequently.

This authority pays the family benefits and forwards a copy of the application and the relevant information to the State having secondary competence. After that, the parents must provide the State having secondary competence with their data (the best way of doing that is to fill out the application forms used by that State and submit supporting documents). As soon as the State having secondary competence has received all the required information from the State having primary competence, it can then calculate the amount of the supplementary payment and pay it out. If the parents do not follow this procedure, the waiting time will be longer. Parents in both countries must fulfil their obligations to cooperate and provide information in order to prevent delays.

If Austria makes a supplementary payment in respect of the childcare allowance, it is linked to the sickness (co-) insurance of the non-working parent or child in Austria. This is subject to the condition that there is no possibility of (co-)insurance in the State with primary competence for providing family benefits.

Earnings-related childcare allowance

If Austria is competent for the family benefits under the EU Regulation, it is possible to receive flat-rate childcare allowance in any event. For the earnings-related childcare allowance, an additional eligibility condition must be fulfilled: six months of gainful employment before the birth of the child.

This gainful activity must be subject to compulsory sickness and pension insurance; this means that sickness insurance contributions and pension insurance contributions are and have been compulsorily paid on the basis of the applicable legislation.

Further links

Legal basis

EU Regulation on the coordination of social security systems

Forms

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 25 May 2020

Responsible for the content: Federal Chancellery