History: The emergence of the ticketing standard in Europe

As early as 1965, the Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (HVV), the world's first public transport association, was founded. This created the basis in Hamburg for using all means of public transport in an interconnected region with one ticket. This novelty still characterizes local public transport in Germany today and simplifies mobility in the city and the country. 

Until 2002, there were more than 140 transport companies and transport associations in Germany, all using different media, card types, concepts and system components. This made interoperability nearly impossible and the use of public transport very complicated for passengers across fare boundaries. This diversity also made it difficult for manufacturers to mass-produce system components and ticket vending machines. Therefore, in 2002, the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) decided to create a standard for transport companies that would standardize ticket purchasing as well as ticket control throughout Germany.

The emergence of the VDV core application 

A solution was sought to ensure interoperability within each individual transport association, as well as between different transport associations or between means of transport of different transport companies. Without prescribing uniform fares or a uniform system for all. 

Passengers should be able to use public transport throughout Germany with a single application initialized for public transport on a mobile carrier medium (e.g. a chip card). 

Hence the name: VDV core application

In 2002, 14 transport companies and associations set up their own research project called "Interoperable VDV Core Application", which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Project partners were the Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund, the Verkehrsverbund Oberelbe, the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI and the VDV-Förderkreis e. V.. 

Also involved were partners from industry such as Cubic Deutschland, Infineon, Siemens, T-Systems and TEWET.  The research project simultaneously provided the basis for certification of the components used in core application systems.

The emergence of the VDV (((eTicket Service (VDV-ETS)

Two years later, in 2004, the "VDV-Kernapplikations GmbH & Co. KG" was founded. It is the publisher of the EFM standard and provides the organizational and contractual conditions and specifications for (((eTicket Deutschland. It also operates the registration and security management of (((eTicket Deutschland. 

Since 2014, the former "VDV-Kernapplikations GmbH & Co. KG" is now called "VDV eTicket Service GmbH & Co. KG", in short: VDV ETS.

The standard VDV core application and the product (((eTicket Deutschland

The VDV-Kernapplikation, or VDV-KA for short, is a specification that describes data and security management as well as interfaces in electronic ticketing for public transport in Germany. It serves as a construction manual for eTicket systems for transport companies and associations. It is the only recognized standard for German public transport tickets and thus the technological heart of electronic fare management (EFM). 

Transport companies that want to use this open standard sign a participation contract with the VDV eTicket Service and thus become participants in (((eTicket Deutschland. This entitles them to use the VDV-KA specifications commercially and to access the common background systems. The transport companies and associations decide themselves which functional scope of the specification they use and which expansion levels they offer to their passengers.

The future of the ticketing standard: (((etiCORE

All systems of (((eTicket Deutschland are encrypted multiple times. Because computing power and IT security measures are developing rapidly, the master keys used for this purpose have a limited lifetime. From December 2026, we will adapt the entire security infrastructure to the current state of the art. 

In the course of this change, we are developing the next version of the VDV core application. This will be an improved and, above all, leaner version of the standard. And so that transport companies as well as manufacturers from neighboring countries can also work with our standard, the new version will appear in English and will be given an internationally understandable name: (((etiCORE.

(((etiCORE will go into operation in 2026 in parallel to VDV-KA version 1.x and will replace the previous versions of VDV-KA from 2031.