Austria Introduces a New ID Card

The new Personalausweis will have three different security levels and new features like a QR code, a photo with a tilting effect and a see-through window.

On Aug 2, the Austrian government started issuing a new version of the Personalausweis (personal identification card), which will replace the previous version as it gets phased out. With several new, advanced features like a QR code, a photo with a tilting effect and a see-through window, the new ID will be far more difficult to forge, according to Franz Ruf, Director General for Public Security at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Lukas Praml, Managing Director of the Austrian State Printing House, who introduced the new design  during a press conference last Friday. 

While 200,000 personal IDs are issued every year in Austria, the current version has not been updated since 2002. A security update was therefore overdue to combat fake identifications – one of the three main pillars of organized crime like human trafficking, identity theft or smuggling. “Modern, forgery-proof IDs are a crucial foundation for a reliable security infrastructure,” Ruf elaborated. According to a study by Frontex, 300 forged or falsified Austrian documents, including passports, entry stamps and personal IDs, have been seized in the European Union annually since 2018. Continuously modernizing Austrian identity documents keeps the cost of imitation high, thus making their reproduction unattractive to forgers. 

New Features

The new ID has three different security levels: Firstly, features observable with the naked eye or through touch, like photos and images with a tilting effect, a see-through window and raised CAN numbers that allow anyone to make a cursory check of the ID’s authenticity. The second level can be discerned with a magnifying glass or UV light and the third one only in labs. The new cards will also contain a chip containing biometric data, already used for passports since 2006, as well a new, personalized QR-Code.  

In addition to the new security features, the ministry presented a free app developed specifically for inspecting the authenticity of official documents. Available both for iOS and Android, “CHECK-AT” is designed to guide users through identifying the digital and analog security features of the new IDs like the QR-code, thus making authentication easy for anyone. “Every identity document only fulfills its protective effect for personal identity if it can be checked easily and securely at the same time,” Praml added. Passport authorities and authorized municipalities have already begun accepting applications for the new identity card. The current fee of a little over €60 will not change, and previously issued IDs will remain valid until they expire.