BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - The signature function

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Signature function

The qualified electronic signature (QES)

The electronic residence title has been set up to operate with the qualified electronic signature (QES), also known as the signature function.

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This function can only be activated by you. To do this you must obtain a signature certificate and a reader. The online identification function must be activated to use the electronic signature.

How does the signature function work?

The qualified electronic signature

Contracts in digital format, for example, can be signed legally using the signature function. This means that a "signature certificate" will replace a handwritten signature. The electronic signature allows the recipient (contractual partner) of a document to see if documents have been altered after they have been digitally signed. The same applies to statements and applications for authorities which must be made in writing to be legally binding.

Many word processors or e-mail programs also offer the option of electronically signing a document that is currently open or your own e-mails. During the signing process you are requested to place your electronic residence title onto your reader and to input the signature PIN.

What you need to do this

Every electronic residence title user can use the signature function. To do this they must obtain a special signature certificate and a reader. The costs for this vary depending on the provider chosen.

The signature certificate

The signature certificate can be acquired from any authorised signature provider [Signatureanbieter], also called a certification service provider [Zertifizierungsdiensteanbieter]. You will find a list of these providers on the Federal Network Agency's website www.nrca-ds.de under the tab "Accredited certification service providers". You must upload the certificate to your electronic residence title.

The signature PIN

You will need a separate signature PIN to operate the signature function. You may set this yourself once you have downloaded the signature certificate.

The reader

Pattern from premium reader

You will need a premium reader with a PIN pad and display so that you can input your PIN. Please take note of the instructions for the relevant software application.

Date 17 December 2015

Additional Information

Frequently questions

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.

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.

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.