Citizens can choose to have RSa and RSb letters delivered electronically already today. However, businesses are becoming more and more receptive to this idea as well. In a few years they will be reducing the number of paper documents. Electronic delivery should be seen as an additional service and is not intended to replace delivery of printed documents.
One of the key advantages of electronic delivery is that it is no longer necessary to go to the post office in person to pick up a delivered document. After registering with an electronic delivery service, business employees or their representatives can retrieve documents online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Electronically delivered registered mail is held for at least 14 days. Just like conventionally delivered mail, holds can be put on delivery for short periods of time, for example, for holiday periods or sick leave. During this time, any mail that has an expiry date attached to it will not be delivered. However, with electronic delivery, it is possible to pick up mail even while on holiday because the Inbox can be checked almost anywhere, thanks to the Internet.
In addition to the amount of time saved, electronic delivery also brings further cost reductions. Electronic delivery services can also send non-official documents electronically with proof of delivery.
1. The document reaches the server.
2. The citizen gets a notification per eMail.
3. The citizen uses his citizen card to log in and confirm the receipt.
4. The document is being delivered. The citizen can store or forward the received document.
Proof of delivery is carried out via an electronic delivery service. This service is available from delivery service providers that have been approved by the Federal Chancellor. It allows customers (citizens and businesses) to register with their citizen card to confirm that they want to receive administrative documents electronically.
Registering with a delivery service is sufficient notice in order to receive admininstrative documents. However, neither citizens nor public authorities are obliged to use an electronic delivery service if they do not wish. When an authority needs to send a document using a delivery service, the recipient is notified up to two times by electronic means (for example by eMail or short message service) that a document is ready to be collected. A third notification can also be sent out by post. The delivery is confirmed as soon as the document is picked up by the recipient. Proof of delivery is verified when the document is retrieved using the recipient’s citizen card, or when an explicit agreement exists that allows documents to picked up automatically using an automated signature. Confirmation of delivery is also made even if the document is not picked up by the recipient.
Electronic deliveries without proof of delivery can be confirmed nonetheless using the above mentioned methods ("electronic delivery service" with "immediate electronic delivery", although it is not necessary for the citizen card to be used), or by using the "electronic communication system from the authority" or an "electronic delivery address".
Starting 1 January 2009, in accordance with §37 of the Service of Documents Act, before documents can be delivered using an individual "electronic communication service from the authority" (for example the Databox of FinanzOnline), a delivery using an electronic delivery service must be attempted first. Only afterwards is it allowed for deliveries to be sent out to recipients that are registered on the authority’s system. This includes cases in which an electronic delivery service cannot be used because the recipient is not registered with one.
Electronic delivery can also be carried in cases where the recipient gives an eMail address to the public authority as his "electronic delivery address" during a procedure (§ 37 Service of Documents Act). However, the use of electronic delivery may only be used during this procedure and not for any other procedures which are carried out later.
Even in the age of eGovernment, government authorities have two basic possibilities for delivering documents: the traditional paper hardcopy delivery or the new digital one used in eGovernment. Electronic delivery of documents saves costs, speeds up delivery time and is more convenient for citizens and businesses. Since electronic delivery can only be used when the person authorized to receive the delivery consents to it, a dual delivery system was developed.
For public authorities, the advantage of the dual delivery system is that it is carried out over a single interface. The delivery can, but does not have to, be carried out electronically. With dual delivery, if the recipient is not reachable over an electronic delivery system, the delivery is carried out by a delivery service that prints the piece of correspondence on paper and sends it to the recipient by post.