1 January 2021: Launch of the eID card for EU citizens

EU citizens are now also to be able to use the German online ID function on the Internet. To facilitate this, Germany introduced the new eID card for EU citizens on 1 January 2021.

Public authorities and private businesses are providing a growing number of services via the Internet. Anyone wishing to be on the safe side when availing of these services can use the online ID function of their ID card or electronic residence permit. But citizens of the European Union and nationals of the European Economic Area do not have this card. That’s why the new eID card for EU citizens has now been introduced, allowing them to also identify themselves online while ensuring a high level of trust. It also means that the online ID function can now be used more often in Germany and in other European countries in a simple, fast and secure manner.

A new standard in the Europe-wide competition of eID systems

German online users can securely identify themselves on the net using the online ID function of their German ID card while foreigners living in Germany can use the online ID function of their electronic residence permit. This means that they can open bank accounts, activate SIM cards and apply for administrative services, etc. via the Internet while maintaining a high level of trust. However, EU citizens living and working in Germany, for example, as well as nationals of the European Economic Area have not been able to use this secure form of electronic identification up to now. This is all set to change with the introduction of the eID card for EU citizens on 1 January 2021. The eID Card Act (eIDKG, eID-Karte-Gesetz) provides the basis for this.

Close to five million EU citizens in Germany can potentially benefit from the new card with its online ID function. This card would allow them to identify themselves easily and with a high level of trust online in order to use German eGovernment and private-sector services. It could also be used to open an bank account or a De-Mail account online, to apply for a student loan, to request digital pension information or to register to use the ELSTER electronic tax declaration. Up to now, the benefits for these new users were limited. But by the end of 2022, another 575 administrative services provided by German authorities are also to be available online under the Online Access Act. This will significantly boost demand for the online ID function. The more users there are, the more likely the private sector will be to follow suit, also offering other services based on electronic identification with the online ID function.

The eID card, which EU citizens aged 16 and over can apply for, is valid for ten years. The card, which is produced by Bundesdruckerei GmbH, costs €37. It is intended exclusively for participation in the German or European eID infrastructure, but does not serve as an ID document. This card will open up the online ID function to a much larger group of people. The German Government aims to set standards in the Europe-wide competition of eID systems.

The federal states determine which German authorities issue the eID card. EU citizens without a place of residence in Germany can apply for the eID card at the Federal Foreign Office. German citizens too who live abroad and therefore have not had access to the online ID function until now will also benefit from the eID card: They can apply for the eID card at their foreign representation of the Federal Republic of Germany.