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FAMILY

What benefits are you entitled to if you have children in Denmark?

Having children is a costly business but luckily in Denmark, there is help. As well as affordable childcare there are other benefits you can claim if you have children in Denmark. Here are the details.

a child
Having children is not a cheap business in Denmark. Luckily, help is available. Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

When you have children in Denmark, there are various family benefits you could qualify for, depending on your circumstances. These are administered by Udbetaling Danmark.

The main one is:

Child and youth benefits (børne- og ungeydelsen), also known as børnepenge.

This is a tax-free payment that you receive for each of your children until they reach the age of 18.

The amount you receive depends on the age of your child, how long you have been earning the right to Danish family benefits, your income and the income of any spouse.

Child benefits are paid quarterly in advance from the first quarter after you have become a parent. So for example you receive money in January, for January, February and March.

When your child reaches the age of 15, you will receive a youth benefit instead of a child benefit, which is paid every month in arrears.

Payments used to be paid into the mother’s Nemkonto (designated current account) but from January 2022, that changed. Now half the payment is automatically made into each parent’s Nemkonto, unless parents share a Nemkonto.

How much can I receive in child and youth benefit?

This depends on the age of your child and the amount is slightly adjusted each year. The amount below is for 2022:

0-2 years: 4,653 kroner per quarter (2,327 kroner to each parent)

3-6 years: 3,681 kroner per quarter (1,841 kroner to each parent)

7-14 years: 2,898 kroner per quarter (1,449 kroner to each parent)

15-17 years:  966 kroner per month (483 kroner to each parent)

You receive the full benefit if you and your spouse each separately earn less than 828,100 kroner (2022), otherwise the amount is reduced.

You apply for child and youth benefit by completing a form, which can be found on borger.dk, under Family and Children. You need a copy of your contract of employment from your Danish employer and your children’s birth certificate.

What are the conditions to apply?

If you are a foreigner and work in Denmark, you may apply for child benefits if you:

  • share custody of the child
  • can document that you are related to the child
  • are a citizen in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, if your child does not live in Denmark.

You must also have worked or lived in Denmark for a certain period within the past 10 years.

This is where it gets tricky.

You can only receive the full amount of benefit, after living in Denmark for 6 out of the past 10 years. Before this, it is a percentage of the benefit. It starts at 8.3% of the benefit amount and it increases every six months:

6 months: 8.3 percent, 1 year: 16.7 percent, 1.5 year: 25 percent, 2 years: 33.3 percent, 2.5 years: 41.7 percent, 3 years: 50 percent, 3.5 years: 58.3 percent, 4 years: 66.7 percent, 4.5 years: 75 percent, 5 years: 83.3 percent, 5.5 years: 91.7 percent, 6 years: 100 percent.

If you have received Danish family benefits before 1st January 2018 and are still entitled to it, you are covered by a two-year qualification requirement.

This means that you must have lived or worked in Denmark for at least 2 years within the past 10 years to get the full benefit amount. It starts at 25 percent at six months, 50 percent after 1 year, 75 percent after 1.5 years and 100 percent after two years.

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you can include the time you have received family benefits by living or working in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland.

So for example, if you move to Denmark with a 5 year old and you have 5 years of receiving benefits in the EU country you have come from, you will start receiving 83.3 percent of the total benefit amount for that child. This will increase to 91.7 percent six months later and 100 percent six months after that.

Udbetaling Danmark will verify this with the authorities in the country in which you have lived or worked, before the periods can be included.

Working in Denmark but your family lives somewhere else

If you live in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland and work exclusively in Denmark, you will in general be covered by the Danish social security system. This means that you will have the right to family benefits from Denmark if you meet the other conditions listed above.  

If Danish family benefits are higher than the benefits in the country where you live, Denmark will pay the difference. If the Danish benefit is lower than in the country where you are living, you will not receive family benefits from Denmark.

If you have any questions, you can contact Udbetaling Danmark or send a digital mail under ‘Familieydelser.’ The processing time for child and youth benefits is 30 weeks, so apply as soon as you can.

Remember to tell Udbetaling Danmark when your situation changes, otherwise you risk having to pay money back.

Child allowance (Børnetilskud)

Child allowance is a payment paid in special circumstances, on top of child/youth benefit if:

  • you are single
  • you have twins, triples, quadruplets 
  • you are a pensioner
  • you are in education
  • the father of your child is unknown
  • one or both parents are not alive
  • you have adopted a child 

The size of the child allowance depends on your situation. In 2022, the child allowance for a single parent  is 1,517 kroner per child each quarter.

Child support (Børnebidrag)

Child support is a contribution that one parent pays to the other if you do not live together.

Child support will not normally be used if you have a sharing arrangement and also share expenses for the child between the two of you.

Normal support amounts to DKK 1,460 per month (2022) and is adjusted annually on 1st January.

If you are unable to agree on the support, you can ask the Agency of Family Law (familieretshuset.dk) to reach a decision for you. 

Daycare discounts

The government subsidises 75 percent of all public daycare, so the cost of nursery (vuggestue) and kindergarten (børnehave) is low compared to many countries. Vuggestue (0-3 years) costs around  4,264 kroner per month, which includes lunch. Børnehave (3-6 years) costs around 2,738 kroner per month with lunch.

However, if your household income is below a certain threshold, you could be entitled to a discounted rate, which is called an income-based allowance.

Siblings daycare discount 

When you have more than one child, your pay half the amount of the cheapest place you have for any siblings in daycare.

Income for not using daycare

Some municipalities (kommuner) pay you money if you choose to look after your own child at home after maternity leave, so it’s worth ringing your municipality to find out.

Frederiksberg Kommune for example pay 8,141 kroner per child per month for looking after children under 3 and 4,198 kroner per month for children over 3. If you’re not from the EU, you qualify for this after living in Denmark for 7 years.

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For members

DANISH HABITS

Why do Danes let their babies sleep outside in strollers?

Danish parents often let their babies take daytime naps outdoors in their strollers. The practice can seem odd to visitors, so why is it so popular in the Nordic country?

Why do Danes let their babies sleep outside in strollers?

Denmark trended on social media this week when a Tiktok post, later also shared on Twitter, showed a series of videos of Danish strollers or prams parked outside on streets.

A number of the clips in the video show empty strollers parked outside kindergartens, but others presumably do indeed have sleeping babies in them.

This should not come as a surprise, given it’s common practice in Denmark to put babies and toddlers down for their naps outdoors, usually in their strollers.

Some social media commenters expressed shock at the video, with a fair few calling it bad parenting.

This week’s Tiktok and Twitter posts are not the first time Danish babies napping outside has caught international attention.

Back in 2013, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that the “BBC is surprised that Scandinavian children sleep outside” in response to an article by the British broadcaster titled “The babies who nap in sub-zero temperatures”.

“The Scandinavian custom of letting infants sleep outside is causing a stir,” the paper wrote.

Research cited in both the British and Danish articles suggests that there may be benefits to letting children sleep outdoors.

That includes a study from Oulo University in Finland based on a survey of parents.

“Babies clearly slept longer outdoors than indoors,” lead researcher Marjo Tourula told the BBC. Indoor naps lasted between one and two hours while outdoor naps lasted from 1.5 to three hours, the survey found.

“Probably the restriction of movements by clothing could increase the length of sleep, and a cold environment makes swaddling possible without overheating,” Tourula said.

Swedish paediatrician Margareta Blennow told the BBC that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency had found conflicting results.

“In some studies they found pre-schoolers who spent many hours outside generally – not just for naps – took fewer days off than those who spent most of their time indoors,” she said, adding “in other studies there wasn’t a difference”.

District nurse and author Helen Lyng Hansen told newspaper Ekstra Bladet in 2013 that babies sleeping outside “is a tradition we have in Denmark.”

“It’s part of our culture that we have an idea that it is good for children to sleep outside and get fresh, red cheeks. But there’s no evidence to say that it makes children healthier,” she said.

A page on district nursing advice website Sundhedsplejerkse.dk says that “there are not yet any scientific studies that can prove that sleeping outdoors makes a difference. But the experiences of parents and experts suggests that children seem to sleep well outside.”

All experts stress that it is important for babies and small children to be appropriately dressed for sleeping outside.

Newborn infants are not put outside to sleep, with most parents waiting until around five to six weeks of age, particularly in colder seasons. Health service advice says infants weighing under 3 kilograms should sleep indoors. Children who have a fever or are otherwise sick should also not sleep outside, according to general advice.

Temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius or very misty conditions are not suitable for outside sleeping and naps outside should not last more than around 2 hours.

In Denmark, the standard outfit for children sleeping outside in winter is a woollen sovedragt or full-length suit on top of up to three layers of their regular clothes or pyjamas. They will also wear gloves, a scarf and an elefanthue or non-face-covering balaclava.

A design of blanket from the brand Voksi, referred to as a Voksi pose (“Voksi bag”) is the most popular choice for outdoors sleeping. The blanket can be folded and fastened to enclose the baby and has a hood-shaped part at the top.

The child is usually then placed under an outer blanket or rug and inside the stroller, which has rain covers pulled over if needed.

These layers are gradually reduced during the warmer seasons.

Although images of prams parked on streets are perhaps the most striking feature of the practice, this is not where most Danish babies sleep. Gardens, balconies and kindergartens are far more common places for parents or carers to put young children down for a nap.

That’s not to say a little one sleeping in a pram outside a café or similar public place isn’t unheard of. When this happens, the parent will be sat somewhere in view or use a baby alarm.

That parents nevertheless feel comfortable leaving children to sleep on the street can seem unbelievable to those witnessing the practice for the first time.

“There’s also something about us living in safe Denmark,” retired district nurse and author Sigrid Riise told Ekstra Bladet in 2013.

“We have always dared to leave our children outside, even though we have begun to keep an eye on them more in recent years,” she said.

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