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The eID card for EU citizens and nationals of the European Economic Area

On November 1, 2019, the law on the introduction of a card for electronic proof of identity for EU citizens and nationals of the European Economic Area (eID Card Act or eIDKG) came into force. Since November 2021, this eID card can also be issued by diplomatic missions abroad if you are not resident 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 is not important 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 nationals of the European Economic Area to carry out administrative and business transactions digitally. This is similar to the online ID function of the German ID card and the electronic residence permit.

The eID card with its online ID function is only intended for digital services. It does not replace a valid foreign passport or identity card and cannot be used for identification during a trip, for example. Under no circumstances is it to be used as an official travel document.

Who is authorised 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 are not German nationals and
  • are at least 16 years old.

Which authority is responsible?

If you already live in Germany, the citizens’ registration office in your place of residence is the responsible eID authority. If you are unsure which authority is responsible for you, you can find out at www.behördenfinder.de for more information. You can enter your place of residence under the keyword “Gewerbe” and the authority finder will redirect you to the website of the responsible authority.

What documents are required for the application?

To apply for an 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 citizens’ registration offices require that you first submit an application online. You can find the application form on the website of the relevant citizens’ office. You must complete this form online beforehand and send it to the authority via the authority portal.

Not all citizens’ offices provide an online application on their website. If you cannot find an online application on the website of your local citizens’ office, you can make an appointment directly.

In any case, you will need to make an appointment at your local citizens’ registration office, as you will have to go there in person. You can usually book an appointment on the website of your local 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 already properly registered, the relevant eID authority (Citizens’ Registration Office) will know your address. If you have just moved to Germany, you must register with a German registration office. The responsible registration authority can provide you with the necessary documents for registration.

The required documents at a glance:

  • A valid identity document (passport or identity card)
  • An online application if necessary
  • An appointment at the relevant citizens’ office

If you do not live in Germany

If you do not live in Germany, you must make an appointment at the relevant diplomatic mission abroad and submit an application there in person. Your responsible foreign authority (embassy/consulate) usually has an online appointment system.

You will also need a valid identity document (passport or identity card) at the embassy/consulate abroad. You must also provide proof of your habitual residence, for example by means of a residence permit, a registration certificate or a tenancy agreement. It is possible that further documents may be requested as required.

Applicable fees and validity period

A fee of 37.00 euros is charged for issuing the eID card. In addition, there may be a small postage fee for sending your eID card.

The period of validity is ten years. The period of validity cannot be extended. After the expiry date, a new card must be applied for. You must provide proof of a justified interest in a reissue.

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 number for unblocking the PIN (PUK).

Your eID card

Various data is visible on the front of the eID card. These include:

  • The logo for the online ID function
  • The document number
  • Your last name and first name
  • The date of birth
  • The period of validity
  • And your access number (CAN)

The following data is visible on the back of the eID card:

  • The birthplace
  • The issuing authority

The eID card and online incorporation via the portal of the Federal Chamber of Notaries

Since August 1, 2022, it has been possible in Germany to to found a GmbH online. This also includes the register application. The Federal Chamber of Notaries has developed its own portal, including a notary app, which can be used to notarise the foundation. Thanks to the video conferencing system provided, it is possible to securely identify the persons concerned with a suitable online ID card.

Founding a GmbH, appointing the management or changing the business address are now also possible online via the portal. The same applies to the formation of a UG (haftungsbeschränkt). All registrations for the commercial, cooperative and partnership registers are carried out digitally .

The most important component of an online foundation via the notary app is the secure identification of the parties involved. A pure Video-Ident procedure is insufficient for notarisation due to its susceptibility to forgery.

Identification is made possible by reading the online ID in the chip of a German ID card. EU citizens or nationals of the European Economic Area can identify themselves using the eID card, which is classified as a means of identification with a “high” security level. Like the German eID card, for example. Thanks to the eID card, people who do not have a German ID card can therefore also benefit from online incorporation.

Conclusion:

EU citizens and members of the European Economic Area can use the eID card to set up a GmbH online in Germany. The Federal Chamber of Notaries has developed its own portal and a notary app that can be used to notarise the new company. The eID card guarantees a secure identity procedure that saves the need to go to a notary with little application effort and creates a modern, digitalised incorporation procedure.

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