Citizen's Income (Bürgergeld) for People from Abroad

If you are unable to finance your own living expenses, under certain circumstances the Jobcenter will support you with Citizen's Income.

Citizen's Income is a state welfare benefit. It is paid when people have no income or do not earn enough money to support themselves and their dependents. In this context, the Jobcenters refer to this as a “community of need” (Bedarfsgemeinschaft).

Who is eligible for Citizen's Income

The following basic requirements apply:

  • You or members of your community of need are in need of assistance.
  • You are capable of working.
  • You are at least 15 years old and have not yet reached the age limit for your pension.
  • You live in Germany and have the centre of life here.

You are less than 15 years old or you cannot work for health reasons: In this case, you are eligible to receive Citizen's Income if you live in a community of need with persons who fulfil the requirements.

Other requirements for people from abroad

If you do not have German citizenship, additional requirements apply:

  • You are from a country which is part of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland: You were previously employed in Germany and lost your job through no fault of your own.
  • You are from another country (third countries): Your residence status determines whether you are eligible to receive Citizen's Income.

Those who are not eligible for Citizen's Income

You are not eligible for Citizen's Income, if you ...

  • are not legally a resident of Germany.
  • receive financial assistance under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act.
  • have only come to Germany to look for a job.

Citizen's Income is composed as follows

Citizen's Income is paid monthly. It is calculated individually and consists of several parts:

Standard support requirement

The “standard support requirement” (Regelbedarf) refers to the fixed-rate amounts with which you can cover your daily living costs. These include, for example, expenses for food, clothing and electricity.

The exact amount depends, among others, on how old you are and whether you live alone or with other people.

The current standard support requirements are available on the website of the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs: Basic income support for job-seekers

Good to know: If you receive Citizen's Income, you are automatically enrolled in the statutory health insurance and care insurance system.

Accommodation costs

In addition to the standard support requirement, the Jobcenter pays for your heating and accommodation, for example the rent for your apartment. Condition: The costs are reasonable. The extent to which costs are “reasonable” depends on where you live.

Important: It is necessary for you to agree a move to a new apartment with your Jobcenter before you sign a new lease.

Other benefits

In the case of special circumstances, you are eligible to receive a supplement to your standard support requirement. This may be paid, for example, if you are a single parent or you are pregnant.

One-off financial assistance is also available, if you are furnishing your own apartment or you are pregnant and need to buy things for your child, for example.

Good to know: Children, adolescents and young adults are eligible to receive “benefits for education and participation”. These include, for example, grants for school-related needs or for the membership of a sports club.

Applying for Citizen's Income

You must apply for Citizen's Income at your responsible Jobcenter.

  1. You can obtain the application form free of charge from your Jobcenter. Alternatively, you can download the form here: Application for Citizen's Income (German)
  2. Fill out the application form. Instructions on filling out the form and an interactive explanatory video are available which explain the application process to you.
  3. Hand in the completed application form at your responsible Jobcenter. You can find the address of your Jobcenter with the Jobcenter search: Find Jobcenter
  4. Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive a written response from the Jobcenter by mail (technical term: decision [Bescheid]).

Important: If you receive Unemployment Benefit II, you are required to fulfil certain obligations. Learn more about the question: What are my obligations if I receive Citizen's Income?

Advice from the Jobcenter

In addition to financial security, the Jobcenter offers you comprehensive advice and support. The objective is for you to be able to support yourself again as soon as possible and on a permanent basis. We support you by encouraging you and helping to find offers for you regarding your job search.

You are welcome to raise the following topics in your consultation:

  • finding a suitable job in Germany.
  • the possibility of receiving financial assistance for job applications.
  • a language course if you have limited knowledge of German.
  • embarking on an apprenticeship, if you are interested in one.

Make an appointment with your Jobcenter. To find out which Jobcenter is responsible for you, use the Jobcenter search at the bottom of the page.

If you do not speak German or only speak it poorly

If you have little or no knowledge of German, you can still make an appointment with us. You have the following options:

  • Take a person with you whom you trust and who is able to translate for you.
  • When making an appointment, say that you need an interpreter. We will then initiate all of the further steps.

Answers to frequently asked questions about Citizen's Income

A community of need consists of the persons with whom you live and you jointly earn your living. The decisive factor for the determination of a community of need is that you take responsibility for each other.

A community of need is, for example, ...

  • A married couple who do not live permanently separated from each other.
  • Parents and their children, if they live in the same household.
  • Partners who live together and share a household.

If you live alone, the Jobcenter also refers to a community of need, which in this case only consists of you.

When calculating Citizen's Income, the income of the whole community of need is taken into account. That means: If you apply for Citizen's Income, the income of all other members in the household also plays a role in determining how much you get.

In need of assistance means that the income of your community of need is below the subsistence level.

Before you receive Citizen's Income, you must try to support yourself from your own financial resources. Your own financial resources include income and assets at home and abroad.

Payments from other government agencies are also part of the income of your community of need. These includes, for example child benefit from the family fund or an advance on maintenance payments from the Youth Welfare Office.

Important: If you are entitled to payments of this kind, you are also required to apply for them. The reason: In this way, you can reduce or even omit your need for assistance.

Able to work means:

  • You can work at least 3 hours a day and
  • You are not prevented from working for the foreseeable future because of an illness or disability.

The following also applies for people from abroad: You have permission to work in Germany or are able to obtain such permission.

If you receive financial support from the Jobcenter, there are certain obligations that you are required to fulfil:

Attend your appointments at the Jobcenter

Your Jobcenter will invite you to regular appointments. You are required to attend these appointments. At these appointments, you can clarify, for example ...

  • outstanding questions about your application.
  • how to improve your chances of finding a new job.
  • how the Jobcenter can support you in your search for a job.

Important: If you cannot attend your appointment, because you are ill for example, please inform the Jobcenter immediately.

Tell the Jobcenter about any changes

The amount of Citizen's Income you receive depends on your personal circumstances. If these change, you are required to inform the Jobcenter.

Important changes are, for example:

  • You take up a new job, start an apprenticeship or start a course of study.
  • Somebody moves in or out of your home.
  • You get married or have a child.

If you do not report changes or report them too late, this results in disadvantages for you: You may be required to pay back money, you may have to pay a fine, or there may even be criminal consequences.

Work together with the Jobcenter

The goal of the Jobcenter is for you to become independent of government assistance again. You are therefore obliged ...

  • to look for a job on your own.
  • to apply for jobs that the Jobcenter suggests to you and that are reasonable.
  • attend the courses or further training that the Jobcenter arranges and pays for you.

Contact

You can find the address of your Jobcenter via the Jobcenter search. To do so, enter the postcode of your place of residence in the search field: