The passport card as the forerunner of the identity card was introduced as an identification document by the member states of the German Confederation in 1850 . In contrast to the passport , the passport card only consisted of one page, which contained the personal description of the passport card holder. The passport card was valid for one year and allowed people to cross borders within the German Confederation without special entry and exit permits.
Since 1859, the passport card was also recognized in the Austrian Empire as a travel document for domestic and foreign trips and was issued by the district offices (known as district authorities since 1868 ).
In 1938 the ID card was introduced in the German Reich .
A machine-readable plastic card , which is also called a passport card , is embedded in many passports .