The new electronic ID card in credit card format was introduced on November 1, 2010. In addition to the inclusion of biometric features (photo) and the voluntary storage of fingerprints (until August 1, 2021), the main innovation is the introduction of electronic proof of identity, the so-called eID function or online ID function ("This is me."). In addition, the new ID card is prepared for the use of a signature and signature function ("This is what I wrote." and "This is what I want.").
From August 2, 2021, two fingerprints of the ID card holder will be stored in the chip of the ID card in addition to the photo. The previous right of choice with regard to the recording of fingerprints will no longer apply. The fingerprint data is recorded exclusively for storage in the chip. They are deleted at the latest when the ID card is collected from the ID card manufacturer and the ID card authority. By making fingerprinting mandatory, Germany is implementing European Union Regulation 2019/1157.
In addition, in implementation of the aforementioned Regulation 2019/1157 of the European Union, the identity card was introduced in the new design from 02.08.2021. Externally, the new design is recognizable by the EU flag, which will also be introduced on all identity cards of EU member states from 02.08.2021.
Since 15.07.2017, with the law for the promotion of electronic proof of identity, the eID function is automatically and permanently switched on for every ID card. Your competent ID card authority offers you the information brochure of the Federal Ministry of the Interior "Your ID card - digital, simple and secure" (see under Further links). In the meantime, more and more applications of the online ID card function are being offered (e.g., by banks, insurance companies, but also by public authorities as part of the implementation of the Online Access Act, such as the electronic application for a certificate of good conduct or the online service "ID card information"). Since the summer of 2017, it has also been possible to read ID card data on-site among people present for the purpose of transferring form data without media disruption.
The "Smart-eID Act" will come into force in its main parts on 01.09.2021. The smart eID supplements the existing options for using the online ID card with a card reader or smartphone by adding a third option for use, namely identification using the smartphone alone after the data from the online ID card has been stored once on the smartphone. At the start, not all smartphones will be technically capable of providing their owners with electronic proof of identity with the smart eID. However, the smart eID will not replace the ID card for identity checks, e.g. at borders. Here, the ID card is still required.
Before you pick up your ID card, you will receive a PIN letter from the ID card manufacturer, Bundesdruckerei GmbH, containing a PIN (secret number), a PUK (unblocking number) and a blocking password. These numbers and the blocking password are explained in more detail in the letter.
PIN letters are only sent to applicants who are older than 15 years and nine months.
If the applicant is under 16 years of age at the time of application, the ID card manufacturer disables the eID function.
The online ID function makes an important contribution to the security of your data and to data economy, because with regard to the personal identification number (PIN) and the requirement for authorization certificates for service providers, you can determine yourself at any time whether and to whom you make available which data.
Germans as defined in Article 116 (1) of the German Basic Law are required to have a valid ID card as soon as they reach the age of 16 and are subject to the general obligation to register or, without being subject to it, are predominantly resident in Germany. They must present it on request to an authority authorized to establish identity and enable it to compare their face with the photograph on the ID card. The ID card holder may not be required to deposit the ID card or otherwise relinquish custody. This does not apply to authorities authorized to establish identity and in cases of confiscation and seizure.
The identification requirement may also be fulfilled by possession and presentation of a valid passport or temporary passport. Identity documents of other states are not suitable for this purpose.
The obligation to produce an identity document also applies to persons against whom a custodial sentence is being enforced, from three months prior to release from custody.
The competent identity card authority may exempt persons from the identity card obligation,
- for whom a guardian has been appointed not only by temporary order or who are incapable of acting or consenting and are represented by a person or by a person authorized by a publicly certified power of attorney,
- who are likely to be permanently confined to a hospital, nursing home or similar institution, or
- who are unable to move about alone in public because of a permanent disability.
Upon application, an identity card is also to be issued if a person is not yet 16 years of age or if this person is German in the sense of Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law, but is not subject to the obligation to register because he or she does not have a residence in Germany (e.g. so-called foreign Germans).
The identity card is valid for different periods of time
- before the age of 24: 6 years
- from the age of 24: 10 years
- temporary identity card maximum: 3 months
It is not possible to extend the validity period.
Due to the Corona pandemic-related infection protection measures of the passport/identity card authorities and the resulting restrictions, we kindly ask you to make use of the possibilities of digital/telephone appointment reservation at the responsible citizens' registration office in time to have a valid identity document (within the Schengen area: identity card; worldwide: passport) available for possible travels.
In the Free State of Bavaria, the (residence) municipalities are the responsible identity card authorities. In case of several residences, the main residence is to be taken into account.
As of 01.01.2013, the competent identity card authority for identity card matters abroad is the German Foreign Office and its designated foreign missions. An overview of the competent identity card authorities abroad can be found under "Further links". With the consent of the foreign identity card authority, identity card applications of Germans living abroad can be accepted and processed by identity card authorities in Germany if an important reason is presented (e.g. if the route to the competent identity card authority is considerably further than to the incompetent identity card authority).