I have bought a DB (German railways) online ticket for the international intercity train from Amsterdam to Berlin. The train is operated by DB in Germany and, I think, by a Dutch branch of DB in the Netherlands.

I showed my ticket to the conductor on a tablet screen -- I have not been asked for a paper copy when travelling DB at any point in the last year when showing my ticket on a mobile device, and this time I didn't even have one because I forgot it in the printer.

I was told that this would be invalid from 1 January 2017 onwards.

Now, DB-Beförderungsbedingungen state in 6.3.3

6.3.3 [...] Ersatzweise kann in Zügen das Online-Ticket auch auf dem Display eines mobilen Endgerätes über ein pdf-Anzeigeprogramm vorgezeigt werden, wenn der Barcode in Originalgröße und die kompletten Fahrkartendaten bei aktivierter Hintergrundbeleuchtung vorgezeigt werden können. Die Bedienung des Endgerätes nimmt der Reisende vor; das Prüfpersonal kann jedoch die Aushändigung des Geräts zu Prüfzwecken in Anwesenheit des Reisenden verlangen. [...]

As a replacement, the Online Ticket may be shown on the display of a mobile device using a pdf viewer application in trains, if the bar code in original size and the complete ticket information can be provided with the back-lighting activated. The traveller operates the device, but the controlling personele may demand handing over the device for the purpose of investigating it in the presence of the traveller.

These conditions are valid from 19 December 2016 and, while other passages indicate changes valid e.g. from 1 February 2017, no such mention is made here.

The Dutch (NS) conditions of travel state the opposite very explicitly as

2.2 [...] • Het e-ticket is alleen geldig als het is afgedrukt – in kleur of in zwart/wit- op blanco A4 papier, in portretformaat (verticaal) zonder aanpassing van de printgrootte, op een laser of inktjet printer. Het kan in geen geval worden aangeboden op een andere drager (elektronisch, scherm enz.)
- The e-ticket is only valid when printed in colour or black and white, portrait orientation on blank A4 paper, without adjustments of print size, on a lazer or inkjet printer. In no case it can be offered on a different medium (electronic, screen etc.)

also without any indication of change.

So, am I permitted to show a digital version of my online ticket only, when travelling from Amsterdam to Hanover, both in the Netherlands and in Germany? Is it about to change?

  • @pnuts odd, isn't it; I do prefer not Anglicizing place names. Should SE create a tag with both? My actual edits were far more minor, just one spelling and one punctuation. – Giorgio Dec 22 '16 at 17:19
  • I edited in the translation of the Dutch text. It would be helpful if someone else can do the German version. – Willeke Dec 22 '16 at 21:29
  • Related question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/26186/… – neo Dec 23 '16 at 12:42
  • Going back to paper tickets in 2017?! Who the hell thought it's a good idea?! – JonathanReez Dec 23 '16 at 12:57

What you linked and quoted are the conditions of carriage for national travel. If you buy a ticket from Deutsche Bahn for international travel a different set of rules applies:

6.2.6 Online-Tickets sind auf weißem Papier im DIN A 4-Format auszudrucken. Auf dem Papierausdruck sind neben der Fahrkarte, ggf. mit Reservierungsdaten, die ausgewählte Verbindung sowie Sicherheitszertifikate dargestellt. Das Vorzeigen der (ausgedruckten) Buchungsbestätigung bzw. die rein elektronische Anzeige auf einem Computer-Bildschirm ersetzen grundsätzlich nicht den Papierausdruck. In folgenden Zügen bzw. Verbindungen kann das Online-Ticket ersatzweise als pdf-Dokument auch auf dem Display eines mobilen Endgerätes (z.B. Smartphone, Tablet) vorgezeigt werden: [...] den Niederlande (nur im ICE bis/ab Amsterdam) [...]

Rough translation by me:

Online tickets need to be printed on white A4 paper. The printout contains the ticket, if applicable the reservation, the connection, and a security certificate. Showing the (printed) booking confirmation or displaying [the ticket] on a computer screen does not, in principle, replace the [ticket] printout. On the following trains/connections the online ticket can be be substituted by a PDF document shown on screen of a mobile device (e.g. smartphone, tablet): [...] the Netherlands (only ICE from/to Amsterdam).

There is no announced change of those rules.

If you buy the ticket from NS there might be other rules that I don't know about.

Note that conductors often don't know this rule down to every detail as their training doesn't seem to cover it precisely. If you want to be safe you should print out the ticket or display the ticket using the DB app. What doesn't help is that the ticket itself says that you should print but that's only a strongly worded suggestion and not a contractual requirement.


Yes, you need to have a paper copy. Read the Important Notes (Wichtige Hinweise) on the ticket. The first one is:

Die Fahrkarte muss ausgedruckt vorliegen <...>

(the ticket must be available in printed form)

But you do not must have a paper copy booking via and showing your ticket via offcial DB Navigator app.

  • 2
    That is a very much shortened excerpt from the Bef-Bed, 6.3.2, which is immediately followed by 6.3.3 quoted in the question, stating the opposite. It is also very much not what I have encountered in recent travels in practice, all the time that note was there but no-one ever commented on my purely digital version. – Anaphory Dec 23 '16 at 10:49
  • I do not see the opposite. If a conducter is satisfied with the QR-code on your tablet/smartphone - it's okay (conductors are not obliged to ask for a paper copy I presume), but if you are asked to show the paper copy, you have to show it. – Neusser Dec 23 '16 at 11:27
  • I added some information about DB app, using it you do not have to print your ticket. – Neusser Dec 23 '16 at 12:10
  • 1
    While the ticket says so in quite strong words this is not a compulsory requirement by the contract of carriage, see my answer. If you want to be on the safe site you should print the ticket nonetheless as this prevents time-consuming arguments in the train with the conductor. – neo Dec 23 '16 at 12:41

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