Hamburg/Germany – Chip cards are subject to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG). The ElektroG is the German implementation of the WEEE directive, which regulates, the responsibility for the professional recycling of electrical and electronic devices and its financing by the manufacturers in the European Union - and likewise in the case of chip cards.
In addition the ElektroG reminds the providers of chip cards of their duties, when they are the first to put them in circulation on the German market – even in small quantities. If such cards are not yet registered by the manufacturer or by the importer, the distributor of the chip chards has to register them.
In this case, the registration must already take place before the cards are offered for sale. Since June 1st. 2012 yet the simple offering of unregistered devices in the sense of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act) is regarded as "bringing into circulation".
As for any other product, which is subject to the regulations of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act), a violation can be fined with up to 100,000 Euros for an administrative offence, for example as a result of an omitted registration. The consequences may be confiscated profit, competition law conflicts and even general sales bans.
The obligation to register is now definitely binding
The information that chip cards are channeled into the regulations of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act) is based on a result of an intensive examination of the obligation to register chip cards coordinated between the Federal Ministry for Environment Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Foundation EAR (Elektro-Altgeräte Register) (= German registration board).
For instance chip cards for health insurance, SIM cards and phone cards are subject to registration
Chip cards which are often also called smart cards or Integrated Circuit Cards (ICC) are special plastic cards with built-in or integrated circuits (chips), which include a hardware logic, a memory or even a micro-processor. Chip cards are triggered by special card readers.
Chip cards include on the one hand a memory chip card with easy logics and on the other hand processor chip cards with their own card operating system and cryptographic abilities.
Memory chip cards only consist of a memory; it is possible to read or write on this memory – for instance cards for health insurance, SIM cards or phone cards. It is possible to sequentially access the individual memory cells of the memory chip card via an interface.
Processor chip cards are equipped with a micro-processor with its own operating system which allows accessing the saved data. The chip which is invisibly integrated on the card is either equipped with a visible contact surface for mechanic contacting or by a mostly invisible antenna for non-contacting inductive contacting, so-called transponder cards/Radio Frequency Identification systems (RFID).
Obligation to register due to the operation in accordance with the regulations by electrical currents or electrical fields
Devices which require electrical currents or electromagnetic fields for the proper operation are channeled into the field of application of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act) (§ 3 para. 1).
According to the dispensation of justice, the proper operation in this sense is the operating sequence determined by the manufacturer of the product. If it is not possible for the end user to perform an operating sequence as provided by the manufacturer due to lack of current, a proper operation requiring current or fields is ruled out.
The integrated circuit of the chip on a chip card already requires electrical current itself (chip with contact) or electromagnetic fields (non-contact chip). In so far the memory function on the card itself already requires electrical current or electromagnetic fields. Thus it is particularly similar to the USB stick already included in the field of application of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act).
Therefore, an electrical or electronic device is available if chip cards and last but not least the extended functional scope such as cryptographic abilities or electrical currents are required for the proper operation of such cards in the sense of § 3 para. 1 of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act).
Chip cards are classified as belonging to the category 3 (IT and telecommunication devices). The classification to the corresponding type of device into the category 3 is resulting from the main field of application of the chip card.
Magnetic cards are not subject to registration
Plastic cards which are equipped with a magnetic strip coated with metal oxide are designated as magnetic cards. Generally this magnetic strip is applied on the back side of the card and has a memory capacity of about 1,024 bits on three tracks.
The writing or reading of the magnetic strip is performed by passing the card on a record/read head. This record/read head generates a magnetic alternating field for recording with the frequency of the signal and thus orients the magnetic particle of the card according to the signal respectively generates a magnetic field of constant frequency for reading which is modulated by the passed magnetic particles of the magnetic strip in the pulse of the orientation. This process is comparable to the process of recording/reading a disc or an audiotape.
The data which are stored on a magnetic card can be regularly read by means of an electronic magnetic stripe card reader. It is possible to record and read the data on the card by activating magnetic (but not electromagnetic) fields.
Hence, magnetic fields are required to read data from or record data on the card. But no electrical current or electromagnetic fields are supplied to the magnetic card.
However, the ruling function of the magnetic card intended by the manufacturer and the consumer is the passive saving and making available of certain information. Thus the proper operation requiring electrical current is not assigned to the magnetic card but solely to the reader or recorder.
In this sense, the proper operation of the magnetic card itself does not require any electrical current or electromagnetic fields in the sense of § 3 para. 1 No 1 of the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act). Therefore it is no electrical or electronic device.
Advice and solution provided by take-e-way
take-e-way consults all manufacturers, distributors and importers of chip cards with regard to their obligations according to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act and, if necessary, takes care of the complete handling including the registration, the participation in an insolvency-proof guarantee system, the quantity reports, the procedure of furnishing proof, the communication with the supervising authorities as well as the disposal and recycling of used devices.
Additionally, take-e-way offers a fully comprehensive insurance against waste disposal orders of the Foundation EAR (= German registration board), in order to allow a safe calculation of prices to the manufacturers.
Especially for big companies putting chip cards on the market, take-e-way additionally offers a tailored take-back system compliant to the law which also fulfils all requirements regarding data protection.
The team of take-e-way is at your disposal for all questions concerning the ElektroG (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act) and the WEEE directive under the phone number +49 / 40 / 21 90 10 - 65.
- Founded in 2004 in Hamburg
- Currently 13 employees
- Management: Jochen Stepp, Oliver Friedrichs
Business Fields: take-e-way GmbH at Hamburg/Germany assumes the implementation of requirements and obligations in conformity with the law according to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG/WEEE), Battery Act (BattG) and Packaging Ordinance (VerpackV) for medium-sized companies in Germany and abroad.
VERE Association: take-e-way represents the interests of more than 2'500 small and medium-sized companies even at political level in cooperation with the Verband zur Rücknahme und Verwertung von Elektro- und Elektronikaltgeräten (VERE e.V.) (= VERE Association for the take-back and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (VERE e.V. registered association)) founded in 2003, the organization of suppliers, manufacturers, trade associations and individual persons for implementation of the ElektroG in Germany having the largest number of members.