Staying in Germany with new electronic residence title cards

Over the years, retirees desiring to stay in Germany had to obtain a residency permit and, once approved, the local German authorities (Ausländeramt) would stamp their American passport.

At first it would be a temporary authorization to stay and if after three years you still desired to stay, you had to submit another application requesting permanent residency authorization, which was approved from Berlin. One would have to show income of sufficient funds to live in Germany and show proof of health insurance.
The permit to stay forever did not expire but had to be re-instated once your passport required renewal — after 10-years.

Now, you no longer need a stamp in your passport. Since September 2011, folks obtaining a “residency permit” will be issued a plastic ID card. The card is called an “e-AT,” or the electronic residence title. 

The existing residence title (sticky label), the residence card and
permanent residence card, and the substitute paper identity card were superseded on Sept. 1, 2011, by the electronic residence title in credit card format.

The electronic residence title has a contactless chip inside the card on which biometric characteristics (photo and two fingerprints), supplementary conditions (requirements) and personal data are stored.

In addition, the chip contains the facility to use an electronic proof of identity and a qualified electronic signature. All European Union member states are obliged to introduce the electronic residence title. The basis for this is EU regulations No. 1030/2002 and No. 380/2008.

The aim is to design a uniform residence title for the EU and, by using biometric data, to increase the connection between document holder and document, and to protect these from abuse.

The Federal Office for Migrations and Refugees, an office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior has complied with this directive and it has mandated the issue a personal electronic residence title card for every third-country national, including Americans that are residents of Germany.

Existing residence titles in passports and substitute identity papers will retain their validity until Aug. 31, 2021. 

The electronic residence title will open up online communication with authorities and administrative offices for foreign nationals as it will for German citizens, and help to save time and money.

The use of the online identity functions (electronic proof of identity and electronic signature function) is voluntary and can be switched on and off on request. The new document will be produced by Bundesdruckerei GmbH in Berlin.

The electronic residence title is in ID-1 format. This is the 8.6 cm x 5.4 cm size you may already know from many other plastic cards encountered in daily life.
The body of the cards consists of several layers of plastic and with its optimal dimensions fits into every size of wallet.

This new document contains numerous security features that make it more secure against falsification. These include security printing with multicolored lined structures and microscripts, embossed surfaces, an integrated security thread and holograms.

In addition, you will now find the six-digit access number on the front of the electronic residence title. You can use this in the future if you use the on-line identity function and you have already input your PIN twice incorrectly to transfer your data.

To whom is the electronic residence title issued? The document is issued to all third-country nationals as a personal document.

The cost per card is around €135. Existing residence titles in passports and substitute identity papers will retain their validity until April 30, 2021.

Issuing an electronic residence title takes a few weeks. Therefore, you should apply for your residence title in good time. This also applies to applying for a new passport, since you will only receive a new residence title if your passport is valid.

Contact your local Alien Registration Office (Auslandbehörde): 
Kaiserslautern (city): 0631-365-2245
Kaiserslautern (county): 0631-7105-398
Kusel: 06381-424-404
Kircheimbolanden: 06352-710-0
Pirmasens: 06331-84-2905
Homburg: 06841-104-311 

For more information, visit or

We know of a few people who have already obtained these new cards and could provide more details.

Email 86aw/ or call 480-5486 or 06371-47-5486.

(Courtesy of Retiree Activities Office with support of GACO employee Mike Gannon)