You are entitled to family allowance if you are employed or self-employed or if you do not work and your taxable income is low (the threshold figure may vary from canton to canton).
You are not entitled to family allowance if you are registered as unemployed. However, in this case you are entitled to receive an unemployment benefit supplement.
NB: Cross-border and seasonal workers are also entitled to family allowance under certain conditions.
You receive a monthly allowance of CHF 200 for each child aged 0 to 16 (or until the age of 20 if the child is not working due to a health problems). For children in education up to the age of 25, the allowance is CHF 250 a month.
In some cantons (and with some employers) the allowance may be higher, and a special allowance may be paid on the birth or adoption of a child.
Parents are only entitled to one allowance per child. In other words, if you and your partner both work, the allowance will only be paid to one parent.
Family allowance is not paid out automatically: you have to apply for it
If you are an employee, you should ask your employer to arrange for you to receive the allowance. Your application will be sent to the employer’s family allowance compensation fund; if approved, your employer will pay you the allowance each month with your salary.
If you are self-employed, you have to apply to your own family allowance compensation fund.
If you are not working, you must apply for family allowance to the cantonal compensation office, which is managed by the cantonal OASI compensation office.
If you forgot to apply for family allowance, or did not know about it, you can apply for it retroactively for up to five years.
For further information on family allowance, please consult the pages Questions and answers about family allowance and Types and Amounts of Family Allowance, as well as the Family allowance page on OASI/II website.
If you have children living abroad, you will find more information on the Federal Social Insurance Office webpage: Family allowances and children living abroad (not available in English).