Amounts transferred to families with children

Each year, large amounts of money are transferred from the public purse to families with children: parental benefit, child benefit and cash benefits for the parents of infants.

Parental benefit is given to parents when a child is born or adopted. Child benefit is given to support all families with children and is intended to pay for some of the costs of having a child. The cash benefit for the parents of infants is an alternative to the use of a kindergarten for one-year-olds.  

Parental benefit during parental leave

Parental benefit is intended to give parents an income while they are on parental leave and make it financially possible for the family to have one parent at home with the child during the child's first year. However, parental benefit may also be taken flexibly until the child is three years old. If both parents have accrued the right to parental benefit, they share a period of 49 weeks (or 59 weeks with reduced cover). Parents are entitled to parental benefit if they are in work for at least six of the 10 months before they start taking the leave.

Parental benefit is based on the parent's income. Parental benefit basically covers the parent's full income up to six times the National Insurance basic amount (G) on an annual basis. The basic amount is determined by the Norwegian parliament each year and was NOK 88,370 as at 1 May 2014. Parents must apply to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) for parental benefit.   

Parents can share parental leave

Of the parental benefit period, three weeks before and six weeks after the birth are reserved for the mother for medical reasons. After the birth, 10 weeks is reserved for each of the parents – the maternity and paternity quotas. Apart from this, the parents may share the parental benefit period between them. When the father is to take parental benefit that is not for the paternity quota, there is a requirement that the mother must be at work, studying, etc, or ill. 

Lump-sum maternity grant

Women who have not accrued the right to parental benefit are entitled to a lump-sum maternity grant following a birth. The lump-sum maternity grant is paid as a single amount. This amount is determined by parliament each year and was NOK 38,750 per child in 2014. 

Financing and usage

Parental benefit is financed by the National Insurance Scheme. The amounts allocated through the national budget for parental benefits and lump-sum maternity grants equal around NOK 18 billion (2014). Some 60,000 children are born each year in Norway. Approximately 85 per cent of the mothers and 70 per cent of the fathers are entitled to parental benefit.

Child benefit

Around 670,000 families receive child benefit for a total of approximately 1.1 million children each year. The child benefit is payable as from the month after the birth and until and including the month when the child reaches the age of 18 years. The child benefit is payable for each child. The rates are determined annually by parliament. In 2014, the child benefit was NOK 970 per month, equal to NOK 11,640 per annum.

A single parent with a child under 18 years of age is entitled to a higher child benefit, i.e. child benefit for one child more than he or she actually has. This right lapses if the parent gets married, has cohabited for at least 12 of the last 18 months or has a child with a cohabitant.

It is a condition for the right to child benefit that the child resides in Norway. If the child is abroad for more than six months, separate rules apply. The EEA Agreement may entail exceptions to the requirement of residence in Norway.  

How to obtain child benefit?

In most cases, it is not necessary to apply for child benefit for a new baby. The National Registry sends notification of the birth to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) which manages and pays child benefit. The exception to this is if the child is more than six months old or the parent wants to claim higher child benefit.  

Cash benefit for parents of infants

A cash benefit for parents of infants is given for children aged 13-23 months, i.e. for a maximum of 11 months. The right to this benefit depends on whether the child attends a kindergarten. It is possible to combine some time in a kindergarten with this benefit. As from 1 August 2014, the full cash benefit for parents of infants is NOK 6,000 per month. If it has been agreed that the child is to spend 19 hours or less per week in a kindergarten, half of this benefit is payable – NOK 3,000 per month.

The child and the parent receiving the benefit must reside in Norway. The EEA Agreement may entails exceptions from the requirement of residence in Norway.

Parents must apply to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) for the cash benefit for parents of infants.

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