FAQ about the Citizen Card

General Questions

  • The health-insurance card is said to be discontinued as Citizen Card?
    Health-insurance cards that already have been activated as Citizen Cards remain valid. Health-insurancee cards issued since October 2019 can no longer be activated as Citizen Cards, those issued before October until end of 2019.
    In the course of 2020 the Citizen Card system will be replaced be the new electronic identity E-ID (first, a pilot phase shall be carried out in spring 2020). Once fully deployed later in 2020, a health-insurance card that has been activated as Citizen Card continues to be a signature device, but no longer can be used as an E-ID.
  • Are there any costs involved?
    The Citizen Card is completely free. This includes activation as well as use. A card reading device is required to access and use your card.
    Note, that for smartcard-based Citzen Cards only the health-insurance card e-card could be activated for free. Activating health-insurance cards as Citizen Cards will, however, be discontinued (card issued from October 1st, 2019 can no longer be activated, cards issued before Octobe 2019 can only be activated until Decenber 31st, 2019)
  • What do I do if I have changed cards?
    The Citizen Card functionality must be activated every time you get a new card. For the health-insurance card e-card this, however, has been discontinued (health-insurance cards issued from October 2019 can no longer be activated). For other A-Trust cards (such as a.sign premium cards) see the A-Trust Products page for more information..
  • What do I do if my certificate has expired?
    Legally, expired certificates can be renewed using an existing card (e.g. a sign premium) as long as the card still fulfils the technical requirements and the personal data on the certificate (name, etc.) has not changed in the meantime. An extension to the e-card is not possible. In this case the expiration date is synchronised with the planned exchange of the card so that the new card is due to be activated at the same time.
  • Can I sign/encrypt e-mails using the Citizen Card?
    This was only possible with generation G3 and G4 e-cards (e-card G3), the most recent generation G5 (with photo) does not support electronic signatures any longer. (remark: it can no longer be activated as Citizen Card since 2020)

    Signing e-mails has however some disadvantages:
    • It is not secure. The subject and other headers are not included into the signature. Thus, these data can be manipulated during transmission.
    • The e-mail signature is not legally binding, as it is only an advanced electronic signature instead of a qualified electronic signature.

    If you still want to sign e-mails:
    • In order to sign e-mails, your e-mail address needs to be registered in your certificate
      • If you already have a Citizen Card, you can use the online customer services of the tool a.sign Client to verify, which e-mail addresses are registered in your certificate
      • If you do not have a Citizen Card yet, you have to register your e-mail address during the activation process
      • A later registration of your e-mail address is not possible. In this case, you have to revoke your Citizen Card first, and re-activate it afterwards.
    • Follow the A-Trust installation guide for your particular e-mail client.

    There is currently no opportunity to sign e-mails on Apple MacOS.

  • Can I activate multiple cards as Citizen Card?
    Yes. You may activate as many cards as desired.
  • Can I be registered with more than one electronic delivery service at the same time?
    Yes. In this case, the delivery service will be selected at random.
  • What is the minimum age for getting a Mobile Phone Signature? 
    The minimum age is 14 years.
  • Are only Austrian citizens allowed to get a Citizen Card?
    No. In order to obtain a Citizen Card, you must fulfil one of the following requirements:
    • You are registered in the Central Register of Residents (i.e., you are or have been a resident in Austria). For Austrians currently out of country: Your entry in the Central Register of Residents is only deleted after 30 years.
    • All others are able to be registered in the Supplementary Register for Natural Persons.
      Attention: For registration into the Supplementary Register for Natural Personscontact the Source PIN Register Authority.
  • What do I do if I get no letter after online activation?
    Please contact the hotline of FinanzOnline to reason out why you got no letter.
  • What do the different security levels in the card reader mean?
    The higher the security class, the more secure the card reader is:
    Class Feature Security Price (starting from)
    1 no keyboard, no display approx.
    € 7
    2 keyboard, but no display PIN cannot be read approx.
    € 40
    3 keyboard and display Final verification of signed document is possible (not yet supported by the Citizen Card) approx.
    € 80

    The keyboard on the card reader makes it impossible e.g., for a virus to record the PIN that is entered. The PIN is not transmitted to the computer at all. An additional display is used for verifying the signed documents. This prevents viruses e.g. from showing anything else other than the document that was actually signed.

  • Can I add multiple e-mail addresses to the same certificate?
    Currently you cannot integrate multiple e-mail addresses in your certificate during activation.
  • Can I use my own Citizen Card for my underage children?
    Yes. As long as you have the legal authority to sign for your children, you may use your own card to sign for them. For login at applications electronic representation by the parents as legal guardian is, however, not supported.
  • Are legal persons also allowed to obtain a Citizen Card?
    No. However, natural persons (e.g., business owners) can register a mandate for a company on their own Citizen Card. – see mandates
  • Can I use my Citizen Card to sign for someone else (with a mandate)?
    It is possible to grant a mandate to another person using the Source PIN Register Authority. The mandate can subsequently be used to act for the other person in applications supporting the Citizen Card. Amongst others, the mandate is currently accepted by delivery service providers.
  • Can I use my debit card (Maestro) as a Citizen Card?
    No, it is no longer possible to activate the Citizen Card functionality on your debit card (Maestro).
  • Can I activate more than one chip card as a Citizen Card?
    Yes. You can e.g., use your e-card (cards issued before October 2019) and other accepted chip cards as Citizen Cards at the same time.
  • Which data are stored on the Citizen Card?
    The e-card (or other smart cards) holds the following information:
    • Two certificates. They include:
      • Academic degree
      • First name, possibly second first name
      • Last Name
      • E-mail address (optional)
      • Date of birth for minors
    • The Identity Link. It includes:
      • First name, possibly second first name
      • Last name
      • Date of birth
      • Source PIN
    Only these data are saved on the golden chip of the e-card for the Citizen-Card function.
  • How are data protected by the Citizen-Card concept?

    The Citizen Card prevents central access to sensitive, personal data. Therefore, sophisticated cryptographic methods are in place. When using the Citizen-Card function, the various administrative sectors - such as construction and housing, health, agriculture, taxation, ... – are strictly separated from each other. This prevents, for example, the tax authorities to take insight into processes of the health sector. It also ensures that each administrative area may have access to data from their own area of responsibility only.

    More information

  • How can I sign a PDF-File with the Citizen Card?

    The Citizen Card allows legally secure electronic signing of documents such as contracts, receipts, cancellation notices or forms (in PDF format). These files can then be sent via e-mail. For instructions and more information visit the menu item Sign PDFs.

    Please note: The new PDF-based signature format PAdES does not require a Manifest ("M") any more. The Manifest is relevant for PDF signatures according to the PDF-AS format only. When verifying PAdES signatures, the Manifest field is therefore greyed out in the displayed result page (see screenshot below). This will change with the upcoming release of the signature-verification tool, which will omit the Manifest field at all. PDF documents signed according to PAdES are valid.

    Starting with the beginning of November 2014, PAdES will be gradually integrated into existing e-government components. This affects mainly PDF signing-software such as PDF-AS, PDF-Over, the Austrian Mobile Phone Signature, as well as the citizen card software (CCS) MOCCA/Online-BKU and a.sign client.

    Conversion to the new signature format is another step towards standardization, interoperability, and sustainability of signed documents and significantly facilitates their verification with tools such as Adobe Reader. Furthermore, Austria is well-prepared for the EU Regulation on trust services (eIDAS Regulation), which will be enforced in less than two years.

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