Finland is known as one of the best countries to raise children. And this is not just because of its safe and secure environment and the world-wide famous educational system. Families can also benefit from a generous system of public aid that makes it possible for their children not to miss the basics. These are the so-called child benefits, which are sometimes a relief for the household's economy and may even work as an incentive to increase the number of family members
The parents can receive child benefits, this is a certain amount of money from the Finnish Social Security System (Kela) for each son or daughter they have who permanently resides in Finland. The payment starts one month after the child is born and continues uninterruptedly until the end of the month when the child becomes 17 years old.
According to Kela, the right to the child benefit is based on residence. This means that the payments will end if the child moves abroad permanently with his/her parents or legal guardian. In certain situations, the child benefit can be also paid abroad: it is often possible to have it while a temporary residence in another country, for instance as exchange-student.
A tax-free general benefit
One important thing to keep in mind is that this is a tax-free benefit. And it is for all children, this means that all families are entitled to receive it regardless its wealth or social class. Property or income of the parents do not affect its amount.
Child benefit is paid from the beginning of the month following the birth of the child, until:
- The end of the calendar month in which the child reaches the age of 17 years.
- The end of the calendar month in which s/he moves abroad.
- The end of the calendar month following which child begins to get a disability pension under the National Pensions Act.
Who can claim it?
The child benefit is normally paid to the mother or the father or to another adult responsible for the care of the child.
This allowance can be claimed at the same time a maternity, paternity or parental allowance is requested. It can be also paid to another person responsible for the care of the child and, in some cases, to the child if s/he is 15 years or older.
Child benefit cannot be claimed by a child under 15 years or by the municipal authorities, but both can in certain situations demand that a child benefit granted to the child's parent should be paid to them. For example, if a child is placed in institutional care at the municipality's expense, the municipality can request that the child benefit should be paid to the municipality.
In case of divorce or separation
If the parents do not live together, they must come to an agreement about whom the child benefit will be paid to. If this agreement cannot be made for whatever reason, then the money is paid to the parent with whom the child lives and who has principal responsibility for the care and upbringing.
Information about the child's place of residence is provided to Kela by the local register office. When the child moves, the parents must file a change of address notice. If the child moves in with the other parent, that parent can claim the child benefit. In other situations, changes in bank details can be reported to Kela online or on a paper form (Y 121e).
The amount of the benefit paid
The amount of the child benefit increases with the number of children. But this increased amount is available only if all child benefits are granted to the same person.
For example, imagine a mother who has three children who are 3, 4 and 15. The two youngest live with her but the 15-year-old goes to school elsewhere and lives independently. In this case, the child benefit is paid to the mother for the two youngest children, whereas the 15-year-old gets the payments herself under a special arrangement.
The child benefit is paid on the 26th day of each month. If the payment date is on weekend, a holiday or the first day following a weekend or holiday (for example Monday), the child benefit is paid on the immediately preceding working day.
The single-parent supplement
Single parents get an additional supplement of 53.30 euros per month for each child who lives with them and who is eligible for the child benefit. Kela remarks that you can claim the single-parent supplement if you are not married or living together with someone else or if you are legally separated from your spouse.
It is possible also to get the supplement if the parents have joint custody of the children. It is granted from the beginning of the month following the change in family circumstances.
How to apply
Child benefit is payable retroactively for no more than 6 months since the date of the claim.
If you have claimed child benefit for a child who is about to be born, you will receive a decision on the child benefit after the child is born. The decision will be issued within one month from the date of the birth. The single-parent supplement is also payable for 6 months retroactively. It is granted from the beginning of the month following the change in family circumstances.
The easiest way to apply for the child benefit is to use Kela’s online services. Remember to claim the single- parent supplement at the same time you apply.
To log in to Kela’s customer electronic services you can use your online banking user ID or password or a mobile certificate. You can find the place to do it by clinking HERE
If you cannot use the online services, then you can download, fill and print out the application form for child benefit (LL 1e) and send it by post with all the necessary attachments to Kela.
You can download the LL 1e form to apply for child benefit HERE
You can check Kela’s post address for your region or municipality HERE