I am 15 years old and travelling by train from Netherlands to Germany. Do I need a letter of consent from my parents or can I just buy a ticket and go? I will have my passport.
You don't need any paperwork from your parents, but you are required (it is not just a good idea) to carry an official id card or a passport.
I am not sure about Dutch law, but you are required by German law to carry a recognized id card (e.g. an identiteitskaart if you are a Dutch citizen) or a passport. Customs checks or police looking for drugs are not uncommon at the Dutch/German border, also on public transport, and you will likely be fined by the German police if you do not carry an id or a passport.
Too long, didn't read: ID is strictly required, letter is recommended.
There are no formal border controls at the internal borders of the Schengen Area, to which both the Netherlands and Germany belong. Chances are you won't meet an official at all.
But in order to control illegal immigration there are more customs and immigration officers around, sometimes quite far from the actual border, who are looking for suspicious activities. If you are not Caucasian, if it is obvious that you are a minor, if you look as if you might smuggle dope from the Netherlands to Germany (bad idea!) or attract their attention in any other way, they may stop and question you. In fact, it is their job to look out for minors because it is not uncommon that a separated and alienated parent tries to take the child away from the other parent. Society in general thinks that 15 year olds need special protection ;-).
There is a website from the German government detailing the regulations. It contains a link to REGULATION (EU) 2016/399 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL. That regulation says about minors in Annex VII, Special rules for certain categories of persons (all emphasis in the following quotes by me):
6.3. In the case of minors travelling unaccompanied, border guards shall ensure, by means of thorough checks on travel documents and supporting documents, that the minors do not leave the territory against the wishes of the person(s) having parental care over them.
The German document then lists the requirements for border crossings.
- The hard requirement, not only for minors, is that EU citizens traveling within the EU need a passport or ID card.
- For minors, they say:
To facilitate travel, minors travelling alone and entering or leaving Germany - although not required by law - should carry a declaration of consent signed by the persons with legal custody of the child, in addition to their own valid travel document (passport, children's passport or identity card). Where possible, such declaration should be issued in the languages of the home country and of the country of destination.
It should specify:
- that the minor may travel alone
- the contact details of the parents with custody
- the route being travelled
- the contact details of the accompanying adult(s), if applicable
There is some additional talk about power of attorney documents which I think is a bit overkill, given that you'll likely need no documents whatsoever. The advice to carry copies of your ID card or passport is good though in general. These days, you'd simply take pictures of the relevant pages with your phone (and keep the phone separate).
You did not directly ask for it, but both on the way out of Germany and the way in you should have a written consent from all your legal guardians. So the best idea is to have it mention the whole trip.
Here the content of the letter is described, and also that it should be carried rather than must be carried. The lack of such a letter is no immigration offense, but there may be questions of a minor absconding or one parent taking a child away from joint custody. The letter with contact details can minimize delays from suspicious police officers.