Marriage Registration as an Online Service of the Administration
Online ID Verification and E-Signing at the Wiesbaden Registry Office
Online Administrative Services – the Challenge
The Wiesbaden registry office has now been actively working for several years to provide its administrative services to citizens online. To this end, a number of its services are already available in the online wedding calendar; the office is currently cooperating with other innovative registry offices as part of a network on the implementation of the German Civil Registry Act (OZG) – and according to the motto “Living room instead of waiting room”.
The Wiesbaden registry office discovered Video Ident some time ago, as it proved to be an important tool for online administrative processes: At the registry office, a public official is shown the ID card, and the citizen’s identification with his or her request is complete. But how is it possible to carry this out online – in a legally compliant, secure and, ideally, user-friendly manner? ID verification via video call with a mobile phone, tablet or computer by security-trained staff, provides a citizen-friendly solution. Furthermore, Video Ident is eIDAS-certified and can thus be combined with a Qualified Electronic Signature – this facilitates the legally compliant and user-friendly signing of registry-office applications by means of e-signing.
Considering this, Video Ident and QES were the right solution for a pilot project for secure technical processing. While the registrar’s office staff were in the process of reviewing the legal requirements for online registration for marriage, the Corona pandemic began – and resulting lockdowns presented a further, substantial reason for digitalising administrative services. Ultimately, it must still be possible to marry in times of pandemic and to submit applications despite the need to avoid contact. Those who postpone marriage will wish to marry following a lockdown, and so a surge of applications was to be expected. High time, then, to offer registration for marriage as a pilot online process – namely, as first registry office nationwide.
The Solution with Video Ident and QES
The registrar’s office staff assessed WebID’s security concept on-site at the video service centre in Solingen. This comprises a range of measures, from the training of video agents for fraud detection, complementary technical precautions for fraud prevention, through to data storage within Germany.
In designing the pilot online process for registering a marriage, it was essential, on the one hand, to guarantee all necessary aspects of legal compliance and to facilitate further processing in the office. On the other hand, it was important to achieve the greatest possible usability and to make the process applicable in everyday life. More specifically, what this means is that it ought to be possible, for example, that the couple also signs the application separately – one person after work in the afternoon, the other two days later in the evening – yet the signatures are merged on the same marriage application. A WebID technology for merging signatures ensures the reproduction of this and other everyday life scenarios.
The Success of the Wiesbaden Registry Office
As the first online registry office in Germany, the state capital Wiesbaden currently offers its citizens the following online process as a pilot in times of a pandemic:
Both marriage applicants go to the registry office marriage schedule at standesamt.wiesbaden.de; both enter their personal data and provide information on the desired surname, previous marriages, if any, and any common children.
This is followed by an initial video call with the trained WebID staff, which verifies the couple’s identity. This may be carried out via computer, tablet or smartphone. Furthermore, the verification features of the identity documents are also examined.
Once they have completed the application, the marriage applicants review their submitted details and click to generate a certificate which then provides a qualified electronic signature for the application. By entering an SMS-TAN, the application for marriage is legally signed.
The registrars review the application before confirming it. Only in such cases in which circumstances appear problematic and where foreign law is relevant must an appointment be scheduled at the registrar’s office.
The administration’s new online service has been very well received: 646 people applied digitally for marriage within the first three months of operation.