The German passport / Photo: © TAC

Federal cabinet approves changes to issuance of German passports and ID cards

The Federal Government has approved the draft of a law to strengthen the security of passport, ID and immigration documents. Citizens can decide whether they can be photographed by the issuing authority for a fee of six euros or have their photograph taken in a photo shop.

If they choose to have their photograph taken in a photo shop, the shop must transmit the image directly to the passport authority digitally via secure transmission.

With this new regulation, it will no longer be possible to take your own photo to the issuing authority to have it included in your ID card or passport.

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the aim of the planned changes is to make it difficult to forge identity documents. In addition, it is intended to prevent administrative officers from accepting photographs that ultimately do not meet the requirements of biometric photos.

The proposed regulation, for example, is intended to prevent digital manipulation of photos through a process called “morphing”, whereby the photos of two people are merged into one picture. This is already possible through freely available computer programs.

If the photograph on a passport is manipulated in this way, not only its owner can use the document. It may also be used by another person whose facial features are included in the photo.

In addition, anyone applying for an identity card (Personalausweis) will also be obliged in the future to provide two fingerprints that will be stored in the ID card. This is to implement an EU regulation that will enter into force in August 2021.

According to the draft law, the children’s ID card (Kinderausweis), which is handed out immediately, will only be valid for one year instead of six in the future. However, parents can apply for the biometric-compatible passport for their offspring which will be valid for six years.

The changes will become law after they’re passed by the Bundestag (federal parliament).

Femi Awoniyi

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