Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Family benefits related to the European Union

A person can freely choose their place of residence and work in all European Union countries. The right to receive various benefits in the country of residence or work, including family benefits, is guaranteed by the regulations of the European Parliament and the Council.

Many countries pay a number of allowances to families in relation to raising children.

When moving to work or live abroad from Estonia or when moving to Estonia to live, it is important to know that...

  • Full-rate allowance of the same type cannot be received from multiple countries simultaneously;
  • In the member states of the European Union, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Switzerland (hereafter referred to as the EU), the most important thing is whether and in which country the parents work;
  • In relation to third countries, it is assessed where both the applicant and the children reside.

Family benefit payment system in the European Union

A person can freely choose their place of residence and work in all European Union countries. The right to receive various benefits in the country of residence or work, including family benefits, is guaranteed by the regulations (EC) 883/2004 and (EC) 987/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council.

According to these regulations, the principle applies that the payment of family benefits is the responsibility of the country where a person (or their family member) works or resides. The nationality of a person is not relevant for receiving family benefits.

In the coordinating regulations, it is not specified which benefits a person is entitled to receive from a particular country, nor is the amount of the benefit determined. States must ensure together that a person moving from one member state to another does not find themselves in a worse situation compared to a person who has lived and worked in only one member state throughout their life.

It is not permitted to pay full family benefits for the same child simultaneously from two countries.

In order to determine which country is responsible for paying family benefits, the European Union (EU) utilizes rules for
Determining priority:

1. Rights obtained on the basis of employment

The most crucial factor in determining the payer of family benefits is whether and in which country the parents work. Receiving unemployment insurance benefits or unemployment benefits and being on parental leave (formerly known as: child care leave) (i.e., the employment relationship has been suspended due to raising a child) are considered equivalent to working.

The primary payer of family benefits is always the country where the parent is employed (or in an equivalent situation to employment). If both parents are employed, and their workplaces are in different countries, the country where the child or children reside will be the primary payer of family benefits. The primary country paying family benefits is determined separately for each child. This means that if a family has multiple children and the children live in different countries, the primary payer of family benefits can also be different for each child.

If the amount of family benefits in the primary country is lower than the amount in the secondary country, the secondary country will pay a supplementary benefit. If, however, the amount of family benefits in the primary country is higher, the secondary country is not obligated to pay a supplementary benefit. In that case, only one country will provide the family benefits.

NB! Working in another country does not include business trips! If an Estonian employer has sent you to work in another country, you will still be insured in Estonia, and the rules for paying benefits in Estonia will apply to you. We consider the family as a whole, so in such a situation, we determine which country is the insurance country for the other parent and where the children reside. If you work in two countries simultaneously, the insurance country needs to be determined in your case (see also the application for the A1 certificate).

2. Rights obtained on the basis of receiving a pension

Getting a pension is considered second after working. If one parent is employed, the primary payer of family benefits is the country where they work. However, if the other parent resides with the child or children in another country and receives a pension there, it will be taken into account when determining supplementary benefits. If the amount of family benefits provided by the country paying the pension is higher, that country is responsible for paying the supplementary benefit.

If both parents are receiving a pension and neither is employed, the primary payer of family benefits is the country where the child resides. 

An example. The father of the child lives in Finland and is not working but receives a pension and/or allowance for incapacity for work, the mother of the child works in Estonia, and the children live in Estonia. The primary payer of family benefits is Estonia, while Finland provides additional benefits to the child's father based on his pension and/or allowance for incapacity for work.

3. Rights obtained on the basis of residence

If neither parent is employed, does not receive a pension, and is not in another situation equivalent to employment, the country where the children reside becomes the payer of the benefits. If the children of the family live in different countries, the benefits will be calculated separately for each child based on their country of residence.

An example. The child's father lives in Finland and is not employed, while the child's mother and the child live in Estonia, and the mother is also not employed. Since the child resides in Estonia, the payer of family benefits would be Estonia. Finland is not obligated to provide additional benefits since the right to benefits is solely based on the child's country of residence.

An example. One of the children of the family lives with the father in Finland, while the other child lives with the mother in Estonia. Neither parent is employed, receiving a pension, or in another situation equivalent to employment. Family benefits related to the child living in Finland are paid by Finland, while benefits related to the child living in Estonia are paid by Estonia. The other country is not obligated to provide additional benefits.

The place of residence is considered to be the place where a person permanently or predominantly lives - It is the home or the place where the person stays, sleeps, rests, and keeps their personal belongings. If a person has rented out their home to others, it is not considered their own residence. Merely owning real estate in Estonia or having a registered residence in the Population Register does not confirm that a person actually lives in Estonia.

When determining benefits, we have the right to take into account other established circumstances, including information provided by another competent state.

The criteria for determining a person's residence, according to Regulation (EU) 987/2009, are as follows:

  • the duration and continuity of presence on the territory of the Member States concerned;
  • employment and duration of the employment contract;
  • family status and family ties;
  • the exercise of any non-remunerated activity;
  • in the case of students, the source of income;
  • the Member State in which the person is deemed to reside for taxation purposes.

If a family is entitled to receive family benefits from multiple countries, the primary payer of the benefits is determined based on the rules of priority. If the amount of benefits from another country is higher, the second country is required to pay additional benefits. The amount of the additional benefit is the difference between the amounts of family benefits in the two countries.

Only benefits of the same type are compared against each other.

Benefits of the same type are considered those that have the same purpose (for example, the purpose of parental benefits is to provide replacement income to a parent who is temporarily away from work due to caring for a young child). The calculation methods, eligibility criteria, and names of benefits can vary between countries.

The benefits paid under the Estonian Family Benefits Act (FBA) are subject to coordination as follows:

  • Universal family benefits are benefits that are the same for all recipients and have a predetermined amount set by law. In Estonia, universal family benefits include child allowance, childcare allowance, single-parent child support, and allowance for families with many children.
  • Replacement income for the family, the amount of which depends on the benefit recipient's previous income taxed with social tax. In Estonia, such types are the mother's parental allowance, the father's parental allowance, and the shared parental allowance.

NB! The coordination rules do not apply to birth allowance, adoption allowance, guardianship allowance, and maintenance allowance. The determination and payment of these benefits depend on whether the family is entitled to receive them in the country of residence or not. Only domestic conditions are taken into account. If the domestic conditions specified (in the case of Estonia, in the Family Benefits Act) for receiving these benefits are not met, then the family will not be eligible for or receive these benefits.

It is important to remember that if an Estonian resident receives similar benefits from another country, they are not entitled to equivalent benefits in Estonia (according to the Family Benefits Act). In Estonia, domestic benefits can only be received if both the applicant and the child reside in Estonia.

The amount of the parental benefit is calculated for each recipient according to his previous income taxed with social tax in Estonia, which was received during the reference period. To find the reference period, we first always subtract the nine full-length calendar months preceding it from the month of the child's birth (that is, the average length of the pregnancy, regardless of whether the child was born on time, premature or carried longer) and take into account the income received in the preceding 12 calendar months as a basis.

If a person worked in another European Union or European Economic Area country or Switzerland during the reference period and then came back to Estonia and has the right to receive parental benefits in Estonia, the calculation of parental benefits follows the same principles as in the case of working in Estonia, but with minor differences.

If during the reference period the person worked only in a foreign country

If the parent worked only in a foreign country during the reference period and has not received income subject to social tax in Estonia within 12 calendar months, he will receive parental benefit at the minimum wage rate, which is 820 euros in 2024; daily rate 27.33 euros.

If during the reference period the person worked both in a foreign country and in Estonia, but did not pay social tax in Estonia

If the parent worked in the European Economic Area or in Switzerland during the reference period and started working in Estonia in the last month of the reference period, for which he received a salary the following month, i.e. outside the reference period, this income is not taken into account and we treat this case similarly to the previous one. This means that the person did not pay social tax in Estonia and is assigned parental benefit at the minimum wage rate.

Example: The reference period is January-December 2023. The person worked in Finland in the period January-November. At the end of November, he came back to Estonia and started working in Estonia from December. His December salary will be received in January 2024 and social tax will be paid for him in January as well. Since the reference period ended in December 2023, and the income was not received this month, we take as a basis the work in a foreign country during the reference period and assign him the parental allowance at the minimum wage rate.

If during the reference period the person worked both in Estonia and abroad

If the parent worked in Estonia for at least one month during the reference period and also worked in a foreign country, then the average income of one month worked in Estonia and the social tax paid in connection with it are taken into account. The given income is extended to the period worked abroad. In other words, the income received in a foreign country is not taken into account, but the average income received in Estonia for one month is multiplied by the number of months worked in the foreign country, and this is how the income of the reference period is formed.

If the person worked for five months in Estonia and seven months abroad, the average monthly salary received by the person during the period of work in Estonia is taken into account.

Example 1: Karl and his wife are expecting a child, who should be born on October 1, 2024. The reference period for Karl is then January 1 - December 31, 2023. Karl worked in Estonia in January 2023 and received a salary of 1,700 euros gross. In this case, the social tax paid for him was 561 euros. From February, Karl went to work in Finland for one year and earned 3,000 euros per month between February and December. After working in Finland, Karl returned to Estonia and started working here. In this case, Karl's salary rate for the month of January, which he earned in Estonia, extends to the 11 months he worked in Finland, i.e. his average monthly salary remains 1,700 euros per month gross, and the daily rate is approx. 56 euros. When calculating the parental benefit, the Finnish salary is not taken into account, but the number of months worked in Finland is taken into account.

If the parent's income in Estonia was equal to or less than the minimum monthly salary, he/she will receive the parental allowance at the minimum monthly salary, which is 820 euros in 2024, the daily rate is 27.33 euros.

Example 2: Karl worked in Estonia for only two weeks in January and received a salary of 650 euros. The social tax in this case was 214.95 euros. From February, Karl went to work in Finland for one year and earned 3,000 euros per month between February and December. After that, he came back to Estonia and started working here. In this case, Karl's January income, which he earned in Estonia, extends over the 11 months he worked in Finland, i.e. his average monthly salary remains 650 euros per month gross. Since 650 euros is less than the Estonian minimum wage, Karl will be awarded parental allowance at the minimum monthly salary, i.e. 820 euros in 2024, the daily rate is 27.33 euros.

An exceptional case

Example: The person's reference period was January-December 2023, and in the period January-November he worked in Finland. In November, he returned to Estonia and started working full-time on November 20. In December, he received salary for 10 days worked in November, but the full month's salary for December should be received in January 2024, which is outside the reference period. Since the person has worked in Estonia for at least one calendar month during the accounting period, but the income has been received for a shorter period than the calendar month, in this case we make an exception and calculate the average daily income based on the period worked in Estonia in November and extend it to the period worked abroad.

If the gross salary is 2400 euros (social tax 792 EUR) per month and the person received 800 euros for November (social tax 264 EUR), then we calculate the average daily salary in November and the social tax paid for it, and we get that one day's salary is 80€. We extend the daily wage to the period worked in Finland.

It is not allowed to simultaneously receive full amounts of family benefits from two countries in relation to the same child.

If this does happen, a so-called overpayment.

An overpayment occurs, for example, if:

  • The family moves to another EU country and does not inform the Social Insurance Board about it;
  • The family does not register their new place of residence in the Population Register, or the information from the other country reaches Estonia with a significant delay;
  • One family member starts working in another EU country and receives full-rate family benefits there, while another family member works and lives with the children in Estonia and continues to receive full-rate family benefits from Estonia;
  • The family does not inform the relevant benefit-paying institutions in a timely manner about the termination or commencement of employment, activities equivalent to employment or receipt of a pension, changes in family members' residence, changes in family composition (divorce, cessation of cohabitation, child leaving the family), etc.

The social security institutions of the countries involved determine which country is the primary benefits payer for the family and in which country an overpayment has occurred. Family benefits paid in relation to each child are evaluated separately, and any overpayment is calculated for each child's benefits individually.

Reimbursement of the benefit amount that was unjustly paid

If it is discovered that benefits have been overpaid, we kindly request the offset of the overpayment by the country from which the family is currently receiving benefits, or we will contact the individual who was previously receiving family benefits in Estonia.

The country providing the benefits will definitely seek explanations and consent from the family regarding the offsetting process. If the country providing the benefits is unable to carry out the offsetting (due to failure to obtain consent from the individual receiving benefits in another country, termination of benefits in the other country, etc.), we will then contact the individual who was receiving family benefits in Estonia after receiving such information.

The amount of unjustly received benefits can be repaid either as a lump sum, in installments based on a justified application, or through offsetting.

It is important for the family to cooperate in such situations. Together, a solution is found to repay the excess amount in a manner that is most suitable for the family.

If the family moves to another EU country

When a family moves to another EU country, the domestic legislation of the new country of residence becomes applicable to the family. The payment of Estonian family benefits is discontinued, and the new country of residence will be responsible for the payment of family benefits from then on.

When your family moves to another country, then:

  • Update the residential addresses of your family members in the Population Register
  • Submit a statement of renouncement of benefits to the Social Insurance Board! We will terminate the payment of benefits from the month following your departure from Estonia.
    NB! If you fail to inform the Social Insurance Board about your relocation to another country, it is possible that we may continue to pay you family benefits even though you are no longer eligible for them. Any resulting overpayment would need to be repaid later! Read more about the repayment of overpaid family benefits.
  • To receive family benefits in your new country of residence, contact the social security authority of that country. Family benefits are determined by the new country of residence in accordance with its own legislation.

If a family member starts working in another EU country

If one parent starts working in another EU country, they have the right to apply for family benefits provided by the country of their employment for their family. Whether the country of employment is the primary provider of family benefits or only provides additional benefits depends on whether the other parent is also employed and the country where the children of the family reside. It is not up to the family to choose the primary country of payment of benefits; it is decided by the national social security authorities in consultation with each other.

A parent who has gone to work abroad must:

  • Contact the social security authority of the country of employment and apply for family benefits.
  • Inform the Social Insurance Board in Estonia if they are moving to another country to work and are going to apply for family benefits there - the social security authorities in Estonia and the other country will communicate and work together to find out which country will pay family benefits to your family and at what rate.

If both parents go to work in another EU country, the right to family benefits in Estonia will end. This is the case even if the family's child or children stay in Estonia.

If a family member stops working in the EU country and returns to Estonia, they must inform both the country of employment and the Estonian Social Insurance Board thereof. The Estonian Social Insurance Board itself communicates with the social insurance authority of the country of employment and finds out when the right to receive benefits from Estonia continues.

If the family comes to live in Estonia from abroad

If the family settles in Estonia, the family has the right to receive family benefits paid in Estonia. However, it is important to ensure that the former country of residence and Estonia do not pay full benefits for overlapping periods. In order to find out the right to receive benefits in Estonia for the retroactive period, we first ask the other country for information on how long they have paid benefits and which country should have paid benefits to the family during this period. It is possible to pay benefits retroactively for a maximum of 6 months.

When leaving another country:

  • Inform the social security authority of that country about leaving the country (e.g., Kela in Finland, Familienkassa in Germany, etc.).
  • When you arrive in Estonia, update your and your family members' data in the Population Register.
  • Inform the Social Insurance Board about settling in Estonia.
  • In the case of a family located in an EU country, the Social Insurance Board is obliged to inform that country about the family members settling in Estonia and about the family benefits awarded in Estonia. For faster determination of family benefits in Estonia and notification of the other country, please provide us with the following when applying:
    • social security numbers issued to family members in another country (NIE, PESEL, etc.);
    • certificate of departure from the EU country;
    • decisions of cessation of payment of family benefits;
    • certificates of termination of employment contracts.

If the family comes to live in Estonia from outside the European Union

If a family comes from outside the EU to live permanently in Estonia, the family has the right to receive family benefits in Estonia. The prerequisite is that the family's child(ren) and their parent(s) live in Estonia, and the applicant and children older than one-year-old have Estonian citizenship, a residence permit, or a right of residence. The fact that the parent continues to work in the former country of residence (outside the EU) does not matter in terms of receiving family benefits.
It is also important that the previous country of residence no longer pays the family benefits of the same type as the Estonian family benefits.

If the family has several places of residence - one in Estonia and one outside the European Union, it is important to know for the purpose of determining family benefits in Estonia:

  • in which country do (es) the child or children live permanently;
  • which country do the parents live in (they must live in Estonia to receive family benefits from Estonia);
  • whether and which benefits are paid to the family in another country.

We look at the situation of each family separately. In order for the procedure to go smoothly, it is very important for the family to cooperate - this way, the benefits reach the family faster.

Example 1. The family lived in the USA. All family members came to live in Estonia from 01.10.2022. From this date, the family has the right to receive Estonian family benefits.

Example 2. The child's father lives and works in Russia. The child's mother is registered in Estonia, and the child is born in Estonia. In reality, however, the family in Russia lives together as one family. After the birth of the child, the mother and child return to Russia to the child's father. Although the child's mother is registered in Estonia, she is not entitled to receive family benefits from Estonia because the family's permanent residence is in Russia.

Example 3. The child's father lives in Estonia. The child's mother lives in Australia, and the child is also born there. It is decided that the family will move to Estonia to live together. The child's mother received a residence permit on 10.01.2022 and came to Estonia with the child on 15.02.2022. From this date, the payment of family benefits in Australia will be stopped, and the right to receive family benefits in Estonia will arise.

In order to receive benefits in Estonia, an application must be submitted. Read more about submitting an application for family benefits.

If the family moves out of Estonia and settles outside the European Union

If the family moves out of Estonia, the right to receive family benefits in Estonia also ends. This is also the case if the Estonian registration remains in force and the plan is to return to Estonia sometime in the future.

The Social Security Board must be notified of the family's departure from Estonia, and an application for waiving benefits must be submitted. 

Please note that the payment of family benefits will also be suspended if the family leaves Estonia temporarily. If, for example, a parent takes the child to live there while they are working or studying abroad, then there is no right to benefits from Estonia during this period. We will continue paying family benefits when the family returns to live in Estonia.

If one parent lives in Estonia and the other parent lives in another country outside the European Union

If one parent lives in Estonia and the other parent lives in another country outside the EU, it is of decisive importance whether the child lives in Estonia or not. If the child does not live here but in a foreign country outside the EU, no benefits are paid in Estonia in connection with this child. The possibilities of receiving family benefits can be investigated from the country where the child lives.

An example. The child's father lives and works in Estonia. The child's mother lives in Russia, and the child studies in Russia.
Since the child lives with the mother in Russia, the child's father does not have the right to receive family benefits in Estonia.

With regard to children born since 2013, one parent at a time has the right to receive additional contributions to the accumulated pension or II pension pillar account from the child's birth until they turn three years old.

We pay an additional 4% monthly (in 2023, the amount is 57.22 euros per month) of the average Estonian social tax taxable income of one calendar month to the accumulated pension account. In the month of birth and in the month of turning three, additional contributions are received for the days for which they are entitled to it.

A person who is a resident of Estonia and who has joined the II pension pillar, i.e., accumulated pension, is entitled to additional contributions to the accumulated pension, despite the fact that the country of residence of their child under the age of 3 is a member state of the European Union other than Estonia.

Read more about additional contributions to the accumulated pension.

Families of Estonian diplomats

A natural person is a resident of Estonia if they are an Estonian diplomat in foreign service. In the case of families of Estonian diplomats, Estonian domestic legislation is applied if the other parent of the family, who is not a diplomat, is not subject to the rights of another country.

Contractual employees of the European Communities

According to Regulation 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, contractual employees of the European Communities may choose whether they are subject to:

  • legislation of the Member State in whose territory they work;
  • the legislation of the Member State which last applied to them;
  • the legislation of the Member State of which they are nationals.

The State that is selected can then determine the benefits according to the rules for determining family benefits. The person's employment institution can then pay additional benefits or reduce their benefits (according to the internal rules of the organization).

Rights applicable to the crew members

Employment or self-employment, which usually takes place on a sea-going vessel under the flag of a Member State, is referred to as an activity taking place in a Member State. However, a person working on a ship flying the flag of a Member State who receives a salary from an entrepreneur or a person whose registered office or place of business is in another Member State shall be subject to the legislation of the last-mentioned Member State if they reside in that State. The employer or person paying the salary is treated as an employer for the purposes of the legislation in question.

Brexit

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland left the European Union on January 31, 2020 (the transition period ended on December 31, 2020). The United Kingdom's withdrawal agreement from the European Union entered into force on February 1, 2021.

The general objective of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community is to protect citizens' rights under European Union law which EU citizens and their family members residing or working in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and UK citizens and their family members residing or working in the EU have exercised before the end of the transitional period provided for in the Agreement, and to provide for effective and non-discriminatory safeguards to that end on which citizens can rely.

Last updated: 05.01.2024

Was this page helpful??