How to Schwarzfahren: A Guide to Train Travel in Germany Without Paying

Firstly, as a disclaimer I would like to say I do not encourage anyone to get on a train in Germany without paying,  if you choose to do so I take no responsibility for what happens to you.

 As a warning now I will tell you that if you get caught on a train in Germany without a ticket you will be fined 40€ or double the train fare (whatever is more) and the fine increases the longer you don’t pay it.

That being said, if I WERE to give it a go …. I probably would follow these guidelines.

Do have your excuse ready. If you are foreign and don’t speak German, when the ticket man comes round just pleasantly ask to buy your ticket. They will probably be ok with it as long as you look fairly touristy.

Don’t get up if you see the ticket inspector approaching. Getting up is a massive flashing light showing that you are guilty, and then you can’t play the innocent card.

Don’t stamp you ticket. On the underground the tickets are only valid if you stamp them, which leaves the day marked on the card. However, if you never stamp you ticket you can use your ticket day after day, and if you do get checked (which is fairly rare for journeys to tourist areas of the city) then you can claim you didn’t understand.

Do remember that you are more likely to get checked leaving a major station.  So if you are travelling in a more rural area for only a few stops you are more likely to get away with it.

Don’t try to cheat the system on long journeys. If your journey is more than 30 minutes you are definitely going to get checked. So I wouldn’t even bother trying.

Do carry your passport at all times. Firstly, not doing so carries a 40€ fine. Secondly, for Brits at least your passport has your place of birth but not your current address. When writing you the 40€ fine you obviously can give a false address if it’s not on your identification, where as if you hand over your driver’s license they can find it quickly.

Finally after being a bad influence I thought I might give you my top 3 tips on buying your train tickets in Germany.

While the ICE is fast and luxurious you will save yourself, a pretty penny by travelling Nur Nahverkehr (on the slow regional trains) so ask for this when buying tickets, these ticket prices also don’t fluctuate like the ICE.

The Länder Ticket, available in all German states, is a ticket which is about 20€ for one person or around 30€ for up to 5 people, which you can use from 9am – 3am to travel on regional transport anywhere in your state (which is a very good deal if you are in Bavaria for example.)

The Schönes Wochende ticket which is 40€ for 5 people (valid Saturday or Sunday from midnight to 3am the following day) allows you to go anywhere on regional DB trains and even allows you to go to as far as Poland.

Gute Reise!

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4 thoughts on “How to Schwarzfahren: A Guide to Train Travel in Germany Without Paying

  1. Again, not a recommended thing. Though sometimes when I do buy tickets on longer trains and STILL don’t get checked, it does bug me somewhat.

    I buy monthly tickets on the local tram network here. In 5 years I have been checked maybe 10 times. It is still nicer to feel like I am supporting something I use though.

    I’ll add another one to your “warning signs”. If you are attempting this on a subway or other local transport, they tend to check more around the beginning of a month to catch people who forget to buy theirs.

    On the opposite side, you can often get the local trams and buses in either a long distance ticket (City ticket its called) or in some of the Laender tickets. BW anyway.

    • I totally agree. Often when there are quite a lot of you it is often so cheap to buy a group ticket or Laender ticket that it is definitely not worth attempting. In fact in a lot of cases it’s not worth attempting. But I know the feeling of outrage of having to pay 2€ for a 2 minute train (literally 2 minutes) when you are more than likely not going to be checked.

      It’s funny actually my friend had bought tickets to Frankfurt all year and then used the underground believing her ticket covered it. It did not. But she had never been checked and therefore corrected. By the time I had found out she was doing it we were almost leaving Germany!

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