Switzerland provides a family allowance in order to support parents and guardians. The system is a flexible arm of social security in Switzerland, designed to offset the cost of raising a family for as long as you have dependents to support. All residents with children are entitled to apply for the Swiss family allowance.
What is the Swiss family allowance?
The Act on Family Allowances is a federal act that mandates that all counties (cantons) in Switzerland must provide some form of family allowance. The allowance is a monthly payment that can be paid to all Swiss residents who have dependent children, including young adults who are studying. The system is open to all, but you do not automatically receive the allowance; instead, it must be applied for.
Who can receive a family allowance?
All residents of Switzerland with children up to the age of 16 can receive a family allowance. If your child is ill or has a disability and is unable to work, the age limit is increased to 20 years. If you have a child between the ages of 16 and 25 who is still in higher education such as a university or vocational training, you can also apply for a Swiss family allowance to subsidise school fees.
All employed people who are paid at least 592 francs each month can apply for a family allowance. This also extends to those who are claiming unemployment benefits, so long as their gross income does not exceed 42.600 Swiss francs annually.
How much is the Swiss family allowance?
Although the amount varies from canton to canton, generally each recipient of a Swiss family allowance will receive at least 200 Swiss francs a month if their child is younger than 16 years old (20 years for disabled children or children unable to work). Parents of children who are in full-time education between the ages of 16 and 25 years can receive at least 250 Swiss francs a month for each child.
Only one Swiss family allowance is allowed per child. In the case of a family that has been split through divorce and separation, the parent who has the majority of custody can claim family allowance.
Applying for a Swiss family allowance.
Receiving a Swiss family allowance is not automatic and must be applied for. If you are employed, you need to apply through your employer, who will take you through the necessary steps. Some common documents you will need to present are:
- Residence permit
- Confirmation of residence in the canton, as provided by your council (Gemeinde)
- Passport or ID of the child you wish to register
Self-employed or retired person applying for Swiss family allowance.
People who are self-employed or freelancers can still benefit from a Swiss family allowance. In order to apply, you must visit your local Family Compensation Fund. This might be at your local Gemeinde or at a regional centre. Your regional centre can be found here.
People who do not work or are retired and have dependents must apply at the same office. Retirees must go to whichever centre handles their pension in Switzerland.
How will I receive the family allowance?
If your application is approved, your Swiss family allowance will be paid alongside your regular salary. If you are receiving unemployment benefits or a regular pension, your family allowance will be paid alongside your unemployment allowance or first pillar pension.
What do I do when my child becomes too old to claim Swiss family allowance?
It is your responsibility to contact your employer or family compensation fund should any of your circumstances change, since this might disqualify you from claiming the family allowance. For instance, you should inform the authorities if:
- Your child reaches the age of 25.
- Your child reaches the age of 16 (20 for disabled or unwell children) and is not pursuing further education or vocational training.
- Your child is no longer your dependent (for instance, if you lose custody).
- Your child begins to earn a wage.
Any misinformation or refusal to inform your employer or family compensation fund of any changes can lead to the denial of payments or legal proceedings.
Can I still claim Swiss family allowance if my child is studying abroad?
So long as your child remains your dependent, you can still receive the family allowance, even if they are studying abroad. However, you must inform your employer or family compensation fund of where your child is going to study and that you are still supporting them. You might be asked to provide a proof of study letter from your child's university or technical school.