The German Personal Identity Card (Personalausweis)/Photo: Bundesregierung/Wikipedia

Do I always have to have my identity card with me?

Most people carry their identity card (Personalausweis) in their wallet at all times. After all, it is an identity document that must be shown both when demanded by the police and when collecting items from the post office or making payments by credit card. But does this also mean that you must always carry the ID with you?

In Germany, people who have reached the age of 16 are required to have an identity document (Ausweispflicht). This means that they must have a valid identity document in the form of an identity card or a passport (paragraph 1 of the Identity Card Act). Being unable to show a valid proof of identity is an administrative offence that can be punished with a fine of up to 3,000 euros.

However, the obligation to have an identity document (Ausweispflicht) is not the same as the obligation to carry carry an identity document with you (Mitführpflicht). This means that you do not always have to carry your identity card or passport with you.

However, if you are asked by the police to identify yourself during a personal identity check and you are unable to do so, the officers can take you to the police station in case of suspicion. Your identity will then be checked at the station.

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Note: However, there are professions where workers are required to have proof of identity with them during their working hours. These include, for example, jobs in the construction industry or in restaurants, as well as other professions where unregistered work is common.

By the way, it is not allowed to take the identity card or passport as a deposit, as is common practice in some hotels, for example. The holder of the identity card has a duty of custody and is therefore not allowed to hand it over to another persons.

Felix Dappah

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