On the 1st of November 2019, the Act on the Introduction of a Card for Electronic Proof of Identity for Citizens of the European Union and Members of the European Economic Area (eID Card Act or eIDKG) came into force. Since November 2021, this eID card can also be issued by foreign representations if you do not reside in Germany.
Due to the EU-wide notification of the online ID function in accordance with the eIDAS Regulation, the new eID card can also be used by nationals of an EU member state that does not yet have a notified e-ID system. It does not matter whether you live in Germany or not. The German eID function thus sets new standards in the Europe-wide competition of eID systems.
What Can the eID Card Be Used For?
The eID card enables EU citizens and EEA nationals to carry out administrative and business transactions digitally. It is similar to the online ID function of the German identity card and the electronic residence permit. The eID card with its online identification function is only intended for digital services. It does not replace a valid foreign passport or identity card and cannot be used, for example, for identification means when travelling. It is in no case to be used as a sovereign travel document.
Who Is Entitled to Apply for the eID Card?
The eID card can be applied for by the following persons:
- Citizens of the European Union
- Nationals of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) who do not have German citizenship
- and are at least 16 years old.
Which Authority Is Competent?
If you already live in Germany, the citizen center (Bürgeramt) of your place of residence is the competent eID authority. If you are unsure which authority is responsible for you, you can find out more at www.behördenfinder.de. Under the keyword "Gewerbe" (business) you can enter your place of residence and the authority finder will redirect you to the website of the competent authority.
What Documents Are Required for the Application?
To apply for the eID card, you will need a valid identity document issued by your home country, e.g. a passport or a national identity card (ID card).
Some citizen centers (Bürgerämter) ask you to submit an online application first. You will find the application form on the website of the responsible citizen office (Bürgeramt). You have to fill out this form online and send it to the authority via the authority portal.
Not all of the citizen centers (Bürgerämter) provide an online application on their website. If you cannot find an online application on the website of your citizen center (Bürgeramt), you can directly make an appointment.
In each case you need to make an appointment at your citizen center (Bürgeramt), because you must present yourself in person. You can usually make an appointment on the Website of your citizen office (Bürgeramt).
In addition, you must be able to prove your habitual residence, as your address is stored in the chip of the eID card.
If you are properly registered there, the competent eID authority (Bürgeramt) knows your address. If you have just moved to Germany, you must register with a German registration office. The competent registration authority can communicate the necessary documents for registration to you.
The required documents at a glance:
- A valid identity document (passport or ID card)
- If applicable, an online application
- An appointment with the competent Bürgeramt
If You Do Not Reside in Germany
If you do not reside in Germany, you must make an appointment with the competent representation abroad and file an application in person. Your competent representation abroad (embassy/consulate) usually has an online appointment system.
At the representation abroad (embassy/consulate) you will also need a valid identity document (passport or ID card). Additionally, you must provide proof of your habitual residence, you can for exemple present a residence permit, a certificate of registration or even a tenancy agreement. It is possible that further documents will be required as needed.
Applicable Fees and Period of Validity
A fee of 37.00 euros is charged for issuing the eID card. In addition, a postage fee for the shipment of your eID-card may be raised.
The period of validity is ten years. The period of validity cannot be extended. After the period of validity has expired, a new card must be applied for. To do so, you must provide proof of a justified interest in having it reissued.
The PIN Letter for Your eID Card
After your eID card has been issued, a PIN letter will be sent to you. This letter contains important information about your eID card and the online ID function, which is why it is very important to keep this letter in a safe place.
The letter contains your transport PIN and your PIN unblocking number (PUK).
Your eID card
Various data are visible on the front of the eID card. These include:
- The logo for the online ID function
- The document number
- Your surname and first name
- The day of birth
- The validity period
- And your access number (CAN)
The following data is visible on the back of the eID card:
- The place of birth
- The issuing authority
The eID Card and Online Incorporation via the Portal of the Federal Chamber of Notaries
Since 1st of August 2022, it is possible to incorporate a GmbH online in Germany. This also includes the application with the commercial register. The Bundesnotarkammer (Federal Chamber of Notaries) has developed its own platform, including a notary app, by means of which the notarisation of the incorporation is possible. Through the video conferencing system provided, it is possible to securely identify the persons concerned with a suitable online ID.
The incorporation of a GmbH (limited liability company), the appointment of the managing directors or the change of business address are now also possible online via the portal. The same applies to the incorporation of an UG (haftungsbeschränkt) (small limited liability company). All applications to the commercial, cooperative and partnership registers are filed digitally.
The most important component of an online incorporation via the notary app is the secure identification of the parties concerned. A simple video-ident procedure is insufficient for notarisation because of the risks of forgery.
Identification is made possible by reading the online ID card in the chip of a German identity card. For EU citizens or nationals of the European Economic Area, it is possible to identify oneself with an eID card, which is classified as means of identity with the security level "high". As for example, the German eID card. This means that people who do not have a German identity card can also benefit from online incorporation thanks to the eID card.