BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - Electronic residence titles

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Lists of FAQs for the area electronic residence titles

What should I do if I lose my electronic residence title?

If the online ID function is switched on, you should make sure it is blocked as soon as possible. You can do this using the telephone blocking hotline 116 116. You will be asked to give your name, date of birth and your locking password. Then you must also inform your local immigration office of the loss.

You may also contact your local immigration office direct to register the loss of your electronic residence title. In this case, the local immigration office will deal with informing the blocking hotline.

What happens if I forget my blocking password?

If you forget your blocking password, you should contact your local foreign affairs office. Once you have identified yourself, you will be informed of your blocking password which is stored there.

What happens if I forget my PIN?

The PIN can be reset in any local foreign affairs office. To do this, it will be necessary to present the electronic residence title.

What happens if I input the wrong PIN?

After incorrectly inputting the PIN twice, you will have to input the control access number (CAN) printed on the card, then the third attempt can be carried out by inputting the PIN. If this fails, the application will be blocked. It can only be reactivated by inputting the PUK.

Can my details be read undetected from the electronic residence title chip?

Even if contactless data transmission takes place on the electronic residence title, no information can be read without it being detected.
The chip inside the card is a small computer which can only be read after performing a whole series of security checks. This distinguishes it from simpler, contactless chips that are used in ski passes, for example.

Anyone wishing to access the electronic residence title's data needs an authorisation certificate. Only then is it possible technically to read data.

But even then the data transmission only takes place if the electronic residence title user agrees to the transmission by inputting his PIN. In addition, all personal data are transmitted encrypted.

Are my data secure from hackers during transmission?

Your data are encrypted every time they are transmitted. All information and transmissions are protected with internationally recognised and established encryption processes.

Each provider wishing to use the electronic residence title for its services must apply for the relevant state authorisation certificate from the Issuing Office for Authorisation Certificates [Vergabestelle für Berechtigungszertifikate (VfB)] which is part of the Federal Office of Administration [Bundesverwaltungsamt]. The Issuing Office has strict rules about the data required to perform the service.

Are my data secure when using the internet?

Yes, your personal data are in fact more secure than if you were to use the internet without an electronic residence title when shopping or participating on social networking sites. The on-line identity function checks before each action whether the service provider really is the one it purports to be.

Which card reader should I use?

You will require your own advanced card reader to use the qualified electronic signature function. In contrast to the basic or standard reader, this has its own PIN pad and a display for inputting the signature PIN. Please read the relevant reader software documentation for further details about how to use it.

What is the "age and residence verification"?

Some on-line services require only the customer's age or town. In order to check the customer's age (e.g. for shops with adults-only content) instead of inputting your date of birth the only information transmitted is whether the electronic residence title holder has already reached the prescribed age (e.g. 18 years). A simple "yes" or "no" will be transmitted.

The same happens for confirming the place of residence. Here too there is only a check whether the electronic residence title user is registered in the town or Federal Land he has specified.

What is the "pseudonym function"?

You can use this function as an identity on the internet e.g. on social networks (chatrooms) without disclosing your personal data. The chip in the electronic residence title produces a special identity for this (pseudonym) with which you can prove you are the respective user without transmitting your personal data.

How do I switch the online identity function on or off later?

The online identity function is activated when the electronic residence permit is delivered, and stays active throughout the residence permit's validity. However, you can decide for yourself if and when you would like to use this function.

What software is needed to use the on-line identity function?

To achieve a connection between your computer and the identification, you need software which has to be installed on your computer. Such software known as "AusweisApp" is made available free of charge by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). You can find further information on The "AusweisApp" is available for the following operating systems:

  • Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux for the distributions Ubuntu, OpenSuse and Debian

What is needed to use the on-line identity function?

  1. To be able to identify yourself with the electronic residence title on the internet, the on-line identity function has to be switched on.
  2. When using a home computer you will need a card reader for cards with con-tactless readable chips, authorised by the Federal Office for Information Security [Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik] (BSI) (see
  3. Communication between the electronic residence title and the computer is made possible by software known as "AusweisApp". A new version of this software should be available from January 2011 in English.
  4. A PIN letter containing the PIN, PUK and blocking password is sent to the electronic residence title user between applying for and collecting the electronic residence title. These data should always be kept in a safe place and should not be divulged to any other person.

Who can use the online identity function?

The online identity function can be used from the age of 16 years. If the electronic residence permit includes the entry (in German) "Die Personendaten beruhen auf den Angaben des Inhabers" (the personal details are based on the statements of the holder), the person's identity is not reliably verified. In this case, the use of the online identity function is excluded (§ 61(2) of the Ordinance Governing Residence). Hence, the electronic residence permit is delivered with a deactivated online identity function.

What is the on-line identity function?

You can prove your identity, e.g. on the internet or at machines using a 6-digit secret number (PIN - personal identification number) where such services are available. This allows you to deal with official business on line (e.g. vehicle registration or registering with the authorities once you have moved house) without having to fill in numerous forms with your personal data.

What are the new electronic functions of the electronic residence title?

The electronic residence title has an online identity function, a pseudonym function and can verify age and residence.

From what age (for children) must the fingerprints be stored in the electronic residence title chip?

Fingerprints must be stored for children from the age of 6 years.

What happens if I do not wish to have my fingerprints taken?

If you do not allow your fingerprints to be taken, you cannot receive a residence title. It is mandatory for all third-country nationals above the age of 6 years old to have their fingerprints taken. This is required by the European Union.

Which fingers have records taken of them?

Basically prints are taken from the two index fingers. If necessary, prints can be taken from other fingers, except from the little fingers. Usually three prints are taken of each of the two index fingers. Only the best fingerprints are stored.

How are fingerprints taken?

The electronic capture of fingerprints takes place using a special fingerprint scanner when the electronic residence title is applied for at the local foreign affairs office. Stamp pad ink is no longer used.

Who may access the stored photo and fingerprints?

Only official offices (e.g. police or local foreign affairs offices) may access these data to monitor the authenticity of the electronic residence title and the identity of the electronic residence title holder. The Residence Act specifies the details of which offices these are.
Biometric data are not transmitted in any case when using the on-line identity function.

Are fingerprints stored in the local immigration office permanently?

No. They are stored until the electronic residence title is given to the applicant. After this, the data are deleted irrevocably.

What happens if the chip is useless?

If the chip breaks, the legal decision concerning residence shall remain in force. Nevertheless, you must apply for a new electronic residence title to allow the incidental information (requirements) to be updated.

May I see my data stored on the electronic residence title chip?

Every local foreign affairs office is equipped with readers. You can view the data stored on the chip there at any time. To do this, you must present your electronic residence title.

Which data are stored on the electronic residence title chip?

The data stored are those printed on the card (e.g. first name/s, surname, address). In addition the chip contains biometric date (fingerprints and photo) and possibly other available incidental information (requirements).

Are the PIN, PUK and blocking password still valid if I apply for a new electronic residence title?

No, if you have to apply for a new electronic residence title a new PIN letter with a new PIN, PUK and blocking password will be issued.

From what age (in the case of children) is a signature necessary on the electronic residence title application form?

Children from the age of 10 must also sign the application form in addition to the signature of the legal representative of the minor (under 16 years old).

What fees are payable for the online identity function?

The following do not incur a fee:

  • Changing the transport PIN to a personal PIN
  • Amending your address details
  • Blocking the function

A fee of 6 euros must be paid for the following measures:

  • Changing the PIN (at the local immigration office)
  • Unblocking the function

How can I tell which service providers use the new functions?

Logo the on-line identity function

Since November 2010, internet applications, machines and card reader devices that support this on-line identity function have been labelled with this logo. The logo can also be found on the reverse side of the electronic residence title.

What is the PIN letter?

After applying for an electronic residence title, the applicant will receive a PIN letter from the Bundesdruckerei GmbH (federal printer). This letter contains a 5-digit transport PIN, a 10-digit PUK (personal unblocking key) and a blocking password.

How long is an electronic residence title valid for?

The validity depends on the type of residence title or the certification concerning the right to residence and the legal decision concerning residence made by the local foreign affairs office. In the case of indefinite residence titles, the use of the card is limited to a period of 10 years. A new electronic residence title must be issued at the latest after 10 years have elapsed.

Are the old residence titles still valid?

The existing residence titles in passports and replacement passport documents retain the validity entered there until 31.08.2021 at the latest.

Why is the electronic residence title being introduced?

All EU member states were obliged to introduce the electronic residence title in order to create a unified residence title for third-country nationals entering the European Union. In addition, the connection between the document holder and the document is to be increased by using biometric data thereby reducing misuse.

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