I found this word when ordering some lists with legal content (PDFs with translations from Italian to German), and failed to find it in my paper dictionary, so I tried the Duden online, but no results there either.

At this point, I directly tried looking up "identity card" in my digital dictionary and it says the translation is "Personalausweis".

Does "-r Erkennungsausweis" actually exist?

  • 1
    Eine Frage für splattne :-) Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 18:05
  • @HendrikVogt Ahah then I'll wait for him (if he's fast). :P
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 18:07
  • Scheint im Bauwesen verwendet zu werden...
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 18:11
  • @Em1 Could you translate, please?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 18:12
  • @Alenanno I assume that this word is in use in construction engineering, but do not really know
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 18:32

4 Answers 4


I'm from South Tyrol. The word seems to be a (IMO bad) translation of the Italian expression

documento di riconoscimento (Italian Wikipedia) (the verb riconoscere means erkennen)

which means one of the following official documents:

  • ID card (Personalausweis)
  • driver's license (Führerschein)
  • passport (Reisepass)
  • etc.

in other words: an official any form of identity document that includes a photograph of the holder.

In my opinion the word

(amtlicher) Lichtbildausweis

is the right translation for documento di riconoscimento.

  • 1
    So Personalausweis is indeed the best translation? :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 9:49
  • So the creation of the word Erkennungsausweis is: There was a wannabe translater, who was only able to translate word-by-word, but did not check if the outcome really exists!? What do you think @splattne? And @Alenanno, it still depends on context. Personalausweis can be the correct translation.
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 9:55
  • @Em1 I agree. This happens all the time here. Expressions from the Italian language get translated from people who shouldn't translate.
    – splattne
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 11:01
  • 1
    @Alenanno Maybe Lichtbildausweis would be the appropriate translation, because Personalausweis = carta d'identità; documento di riconoscimento means a superset of identity documents with photo.
    – splattne
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 11:03
  • Which one could match with "elektronischer ~" between Lichtbildausweis and Personalausweis?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 11:22

The origin of this word seems to be South Tyrol (Italy, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano). Regarding splattne's answer, Erkennungsausweis is just a mistranslation for documento di riconoscimento. He also mentions the best translation is Lichtbildausweis, since it is a pass containing at least name and photo.

Most web links (written in German) refer to the building and construction industry, where everyone is obligated by law to wear an identity card on the building site so that it can be seen at all times. The mistranslation from Italian to German is the neologism Erkennungsausweis.

Since this is not a regular word in German, you won't find this word in Duden or any dictionary. At least as long as this word does not spread into regular German use.

This page explains what this identity card is in the case of the building and construction industry. This page isn't from South Tyrol, but I did not find any better explanation in English.

More information (why, since when, ...) in German is here (official site from South Tyrol).

  • Well said. An Internet search does demonstrate a somewhat extant use of the word but in the context and origin you've explained. To the question of whether the word is an actual word, this touches on German's generous ability to create new words by combining words together, which also makes it difficult to find them in a standard dictionary.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 22:47

Well, in German you could actually add all nouns together if you need to. So there could actually be an "Erkennungsausweis" somewhere out there. There actually could be a "Marmeladenausweis" (Jam card) somehwere. :)

But the translation for "identity card" is Personalausweis or short: "Perso"

  • That is just half true. 1) Of course you can join every existing words together, I think it is called neologism. But your example (Marmeladenausweis) does not make any sense as long as it isn't in use in food industry. 2) Personalausweis is one possible translation of identity card. Another possible translation is just Ausweis, so why not also Erkennungsausweis? When translating a word you always have to pay attention on context. And in this context, Personalausweis is utterly wrong.
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 8:05
  • 1
    1) There are a lot of "Ausweise" out there. Every 2nd child magazine gives you a new "Agentenausweis" or something like that. So of course a "Marmeladenausweis" would make the most sense in the food industry.. or in some kind of Jam-Fan-Club... but it can make sense. 2) I've almost exclusivly saw the word "identity card" or short ID, in the context of a "Personalausweis".
    – Core_F
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 8:14

The German word "Ausweis" comes from "(sich) ausweisen", which translates to 'to officially identify yourself' in English.

Therefore, since "Erkennung" means "recognition", it can be considered redundant. "Ausweis" is absolutely sufficient for describing general (official) identification.

Common variations of Ausweis are:

  • "Personalausweis" => personal ID Card
  • "Fahrausweis" => train or bus ticket
  • "Presseausweis" => press ID card
  • "Studentenausweis" => student ID card
  • "Dienstausweis" => working place ID card, whereever one is needed, such as in police forces
  • Andererseits sind Verdopplungen im Sprachgebrauch nicht außergewöhnlich, etwa LED-Display. Commented May 12, 2016 at 8:57
  • 1
    @userunknown: LED steht für light emitting diode. Da gibt es keine Verdopplung.
    – raznagul
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 9:01

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