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 language. 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?

  • 3
    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 at 12:28
  • @MarkJohnson, your comment links a DB web page which seems to give a specific list. The only remaining question would be of european-but-not-EU national ID cards, if the OP is from such a country.
    – o.m.
    May 30 at 18:04
  • 2
    @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 at 4:43
  • 2
    @MarkJohnson: what makes you think you would get an answer in a reasonable time frame?
    – Hilmar
    May 31 at 6:11
  • 1
    @Hilmar I suppose that's because your Soviet Union driver's license is no longer valid.
    – phoog
    Jun 29 at 6:31

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 2
    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 at 8:52
  • 2
    @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 at 9:56
  • 1
    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 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 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 at 6:21

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.

Deutshland-dicket terms of carriage § 2 (6) 5 says:

Zur Legitimation ist ein amtliches Lichtbilddokument mitzuführen und bei Kontrollen vorzuzeigen.

Amtlich means issued by a government agency. Lichtbilddokument is a document containing a photograph. Examples are:

  • driver’s license (motor vehicle)
  • electronic health insurance card (at least if issued by Germany’s statutory health insurance)
  • firearms license
  • mariner credential
  • military ID
  • national ID (including preliminary IDs)
  • official ID card (e. g. of the police, customs, THW)
  • passport (including diplomatic and emergency passports among others)
  • radio operator’s license
  • refugee travel document
  • residence permit
  • severely disabled person ID (at least if issued by the German Versorgungsamt)
  • stateless person travel document
  • student ID (from certain countries/universities)
  • train driver’s license

Note, the terms of carriage do not say whether the presented document has to be still valid, neither is it required the government (agency) still exists (consider the GDR or FSU).

You see you have a rich trove of documents to choose from. In reality, however, I am afraid showing your, say, Japanese Aeronautical Radio Operator license will not be accepted. The ticket inspector will have a hard time to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit documents.

You will have the least troubles with a German national ID or a German passport. That is for sure. In border regions standard documents of the neighboring countries will be fairly well accepted, too. Everything else is already risky. You have a passport from Saint Lucia? “Well, sorrrry, but I have never heard of ‘Saint Lucia’. Sounds like a made-up country.”

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

No, the terms of carriage indicate you have to carry the document on you. A copy is a copy, not the document itself.

Given that I am not a German or EU citizen, what sort of ID should I carry with me? […] The only other photo IDs that I have are my own country's identity card and driving license […]

It is ridiculous, but carry them all. Passport, ID, driver’s license, at times Germans can be a pain in the butt.

Are there any other options which I am missing?

No, except, of course, using a different ticket. In some localities you will find, for instance, a regionally limited monthly pass ≤ €49 that is not tied to a specific person. I presume your internship will not require traveling the whole nation anyways, so check your options.

  • 2
    If the T&Cs require a 'Lichtbilddokument', instead of the 'Lichtbildausweis' allegedly required by OPs quote in the question, then my answer is incorrect. But I would also not rely on that a ticket inspector understands the difference between the two terms. Jun 1 at 16:04

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