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I am going to be visiting Germany for three months for an internship. I have been advised to purchase and use the € 49 Deutschland-Ticket for transport. The ticket however requires a photo ID to be used:

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Given that I am not a German or EU citizen, what sort of ID should I carry with me? I do not wish to carry my original passport with me every day as it feels risky.

The only other photo IDs that I have are my own country's identity card and driving license - they are in English. Will they be accepted?

Could a photocopy of the passport, or a picture of it in my phone, be sufficient?

Are there any other options which I am missing?

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    The Deutsche Bahn site states: European ID card, Passport, residence permit card - but not a drivers license. Muss ich bei der Kontrolle im Zug außer dem Ticket noch etwas vorzeigen?. So it may depend on which country you are a citizen of. Since copies of an ID/Passport can be easily falsified, they are generally not accepted. May 30, 2023 at 12:28
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    @MarkJohnson, what does that mean? All those countries with the bad taste to participate in the Eurovision song contest? The scope of the EU is clear, the scope of Europe is arguable.
    – o.m.
    May 31, 2023 at 4:43
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    @MarkJohnson: what makes you think you would get an answer in a reasonable time frame?
    – Hilmar
    May 31, 2023 at 6:11
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    One data point: I was trying to pick up a packet at a German Post office , but my SU Driver's license wasn't acceptable so I had to go and get my passport.
    – Hilmar
    May 31, 2023 at 6:11
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    You do need photo ID, but: anecdotally, it seems very rare these days that DB controllers ask for photo ID, and on local trains I've never seen it happen unless someone was travelling without a ticket. You might consider risking travelling with an insufficient photo ID; worst case (unlikely) you get a fine, which, depending on local transportation company, might be reduced if you can retroactively prove you had the right to be there. More likely you'll be told you need a different ID, and they'll let it go. Most likely they'll never ask for your ID.
    – gerrit
    May 31, 2023 at 8:45

2 Answers 2

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The expression "amtlicher Lichtbildausweis" (official picture id) is unambiguous without further explanation.

For all practical purposes, you need either:

  • a German national id card
  • a national id card from an EU/EEA state
  • or a passport

The same requirement also applies to other ticket types, it is not new for the Deutschland-Ticket that you may have to show an id during ticket inspection, and DB is known to be very strict in their interpretation. There have been several cases reported in media, where for example non EU/EEA citizens have been thrown off the train because they can only show their national id card. Driver's licences are generally not accepted as id in Germany.

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    I don't know if "there have been cases reported in the media" is evidence for "DB is known to be very strict". Those cases might be exceptional, and get reported for that reason. I've never seen S-Bahn controllers ask travellers for a photo ID. Even on the ICE it's rare, and the Deutschlandticket is not valid on the ICE anyway.
    – gerrit
    May 31, 2023 at 8:52
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    @gerrit Tickets for local transport are in Germany usually not restricted to a specific person, which is why S-Bahn controllers don't ask for id, as they have no reason to do so. Digital tickets for long distance trains usually are however and if I would guesstimate, I would say that I on long distance trains have been asked for id around 20% of my trips. Even if they don't ask for id each time, that would probably be too time consuming, it is not at all unlikely that an id check will be made. May 31, 2023 at 9:56
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    The Deutschlandticket however is tied to a specific person, as is the Gruppentageskarte that I've personally used a lot on the Frankfurt S-Bahn (RMV) before the Deutschlandticket came along. My personal experience on ID-checks in the ICE in recent years is much less than 20%, but in the ICE I usually use seat reservations and Comfort Check-in these days, which eliminates the potential fraud to print a ticket multiple times.
    – gerrit
    May 31, 2023 at 10:16
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo: Single-ride tickets for local transport are usually not restricted to a specific person, but "Zeitfahrkarten" (e.g. the semestr ticket for students) often are. Jun 4, 2023 at 20:40
  • And one more caveat: Depending on where you bought your DeutschlandTicket, it may be stored on a physical card that your name and photo is printed on. It will be interesting to see whether those are accepted by DB staff outside of the transportation consortium's area where that card has been issued. Jun 9, 2023 at 6:21
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The €49 ticket has been a political project, introduced to allow residents to stop driving individual cars. The purpose is (a) to reduce CO2 emissions and (b) to compensate for the price increase of gasoline and diesel because of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Last year, there was an €9 ticket for a couple of months, charging €49 now is still subsidized but more sustainable for the public budget.

The ticket is valid for local transport nationwide and it can be sold by different transport companies, with slightly different rules from state to state. Yet companies in any state should accept tickets issued in any other state. It might be a good idea to ask your local public transport provider about their policy.

Beyond that, there is the Deutsche Bahn, the national rail company. The €49 ticket is valid in their local trains, but not in their long distance trains.

Here, the Bahn website talks about ID documents in conjunction with online tickets. They accept identity cards from EU countries, passports from other countries, and some special cases.

Here, the Bahn website talks about ID documents and list European, Swiss, and Norwegian ID cards. This strongly implies that they read 'European' as EU, whatever the geographical realities.

Here, the Bahn website mentions the physical BC100 card on a page directly linked from the €49 ticket, which looks like nonsense.

My conclusions are:

  1. The Bahn is still confused how to handle the recent nationwide ticket.
  2. They mean "EU/EEA identity card or international passport", even if it might be possible to talk an individual conductor into accounting other ID cards.

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