The credit card-sized ID card is valid for ten years, and includes a host of new features. The chip contains a photo, two fingerprints – on request only – and an 'eID' function that enables the card holder's details to be transmitted online via a digital reader that can be plugged into a home computer.
The eID function, which can be disabled on request and is available only to people over 16, is meant to save trips to administrative offices, but authorities also say it will make online shopping safer and easier. Instead of logging in with a username and password, customers will be able to register using their ID cards, after tapping a PIN into the card reader.
The new cards are significantly more expensive than the old ones, costing €28.80 rather than €8. The card readers cost between €10 and €100.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière says the new cards are impossible to forge, but some hackers have already claimed they can hack the chip.
In August, public broadcaster ARD's show “Plusminus” teamed up with the hacker organization the Chaos Computer Club to find out how secure the controversial new radio-frequency (RIHD) chips were.
The report found that scammers would have few problems extracting personal information.
Public officials will be issuing the new ID cards from November 1, though current cards will still be valid until their expiry date.