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I was trying to buy a Deutschlandticket but apparently the US is not on the list of "allowed" countries of the residence. I'm a US resident, have both US & German citizenship and I have an IBAN account in the EU.

Is there a way for me to buy this ticket? Can I have someone in Germany buy the ticket for me using their address? When they check the ticket, I assume they do an ID check. What happens when the address on the ID doesn't match the one on the ticket ?

EDIT1: My German passport doesn't list a street address but the place of issue is "Generalkonsulat Boston" (consulate general Boston). I guess, that would be fairly safe, you would have to have a fairly motivated conductor to go that deep.

EDIT2: I tried a few third party provides but at the moment I'm snagged on how actually receive the ticket. None of the apps that can host the ticket install on a US phone.

EDIT3: Now that I managed to get my Deutschlandticket I was not able to use it because of the strike yesterday. That was difficult to deal with: if I rent a car for the first leg of the trip I have to use it for the entire trip or do a stupidly expensive one-way rental. Turns out cars were mostly sold out at the airport and I got stranded in my arrival city.

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  • Do German IDs include an address? I know my Dutch one does not and neither does my passport.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 18:00
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    But do be aware that the ticket is intended as a subscription, therefore it only runs over calendar months (I believe) and cancelling it can be a little awkward - i.e. depending on who you buy it from you may need to cancel by the 10th of the month. Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 18:58
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    This may be a software problem: 2023-07-31: 49-Euro-Ticket: Diskriminierung beim Deutschlandticket - Wirtschaft - SZ.de - Bei der Bezahlmaske ist häufig Schluss: German IBANs start with the letters "DE" and continue with 20 digits, but in countries like Belgium, for example, there are 16 digits or in Poland 26 digits after the country letters. Foreign account details are accepted on the Deutsche Bahn website. Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 22:47
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    Where did you find the allowed countries of residence? I purchased a mobile deutschlandticket earlier this year from hvv with a US credit card and gave my US address as the billing address.
    – artemist
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 1:45
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    It may be a new thing - when renewing my DE card I needed to give a German postal code so that the income could be correctly distributed to the right regional transport agency. Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 10:58

4 Answers 4

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The Deutschlandticket is sold by a variety of transit operators, each with its own buying process and requirements. If you do not meet the requirements for one operator, try another. Because the ticket is valid nationwide, there is no need to plan to visit the region of the operator from which you buy the ticket.

Some options that may work for you:

  • National rail operator Deutsche Bahn sells the ticket on its website or in its app. You do need an IBAN which supports direct debit, but as far as I can tell without actually buying a ticket, it does not seem to ask for your address or country of residence at all.
  • The always-helpful Man In Seat 61 recommends purchasing the Deutschlandticket from VBN, the Bremen-area transit operator. This has the advantage of appearing to accept credit cards, including foreign ones.
  • WanderInGermany additionally suggests the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund, HVV Hamburg, and Rheinbahn as further good options for foreign visitors.

As you say you know, but for the benefit of any other readers, the Deutschlandticket is only sold as an auto-renewing subscription. Therefore, you should check the terms carefully and be sure to cancel your subscription before it renews if you want the ticket only for a short time.

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I've bought the Deutschlandticket on two occasions, plus an automatic extension, for a total of 2 months and 12 days, as a foreigner. Here is what worked in 2023:

  • Download the HHV Switch app
  • Set up a HHV account using your email address
  • Add a credit card to your account (I used a MasterCard)
  • Buy the Deutschlandticket in the HHV Switch app
  • Remember to cancel the ticket before the 10th of the month (done in the app)

NB: Make sure to pick a password you can remember; you sometimes has to log back into the app, to access the ticket.

I found all the above steps to be intuitive and painless. Both buying and cancelling is done by a couple of taps. I've been asked for ID on trains (used passport), but usually the staff just glance at the ticket and move on.

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  • I tried the exact same thing but the app rejected my payment methods (both credit card and IBAN). No idea why. So your mileage may vary here.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 14:04
  • @Hilmar I wonder if there's some security in your credit card that prevents it from being used with a subscription. Just speculating, I don't know if that's even a thing. Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 8:52
  • possible. I tied two Credit Cards AND my IBAN. Annoyingly the the error message as not helpful "your payment method was rejected"
    – Hilmar
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 9:22
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I tried most of the 3rd party providers that were mentioned in the comments and also in mlc's very helpful answer. None of them worked: Either the app didn't install or the payment method was rejected.

Here is what actually worked on Android.

  1. Create a Google Account with a residential address in Germany
  2. Make an account with bahn.de using a German residential address
  3. Delete existing Bahn Navigator app
  4. Re-install Bahn Navigator using the German Google account using a VPN that places my IP address in Germany
  5. Login with German Bahn account
  6. Buy ticket using an IBAN (mine is from Belgium, but that worked)

I do not know whether all these steps are necessary, but at least that worked.

EDIT: Final report: I was able to use the ticket successfully about 8-10 times. Only once I had to show my photo ID and my German passport was accepted without any problems.

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I'm in the US and purchased the Deutschlandticket last fall using the advice of Seat 61 by using the VBN app (it's the regional operator for Bremen/Lower Saxony). Their mobile app has an English language option and allows American addresses and takes American credit cards. My only mistake was doing this a few days before the end of the month, not realizing I was paying 49 euros right away and then another 49 euros the 1st of the next month, when I was actually going to use it. Then I cancelled before the 10th of the month and got a very polite automated reply reminding me I can renew it again anytime in the future. I discovered for each paid month, you get a distinctive QR Code on your mobile, which the ticket checkers scan and thus verify you are a paid passenger. Super easy to use and works offline.

It saved me a lot of money and the headaches of buying tickets all the time and then remembering to validate them. It's very freeing to just jump on trains and buses without the worry if I pre-purchased a ticket or properly validated it. I used it on local and regional trains (and local trams and buses) all over southern Germany and into Salzburg, Austria (from Munich) and to Basel, Switzerland and Strasbourg, France (from Freiburg). I'm definitely using it again this summer.

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  • Just to clarify. A pro-rated D-ticket is available from some providers, where you only pay for what's left of the month. However, you're on the hook for the next calendar month. In order to pay for just one month, you need to buy the ticket early enough to be able to cancel it before the 10th of that month. Commented Jan 22 at 12:00

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