Online ticket

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An online ticket from Deutsche Bahn . The certificate is located in the first line on the top right below the Aztec code .
Vueling Airlines online ticket

An online ticket is an entry or travel ticket that can be purchased electronically (usually via the Internet ) and printed out yourself . The validity of the ticket can be checked, for example, using a digital certificate printed on the ticket and a personal identification (e.g. credit card , membership card or identity card ).


The seller uses information about the intended use and, in the case of personalized tickets, also the identification of the buyer, such as a credit card number, to create a digital certificate. When checking the ticket, the seller can use the certificate to check whether it is a valid ticket and whether the user is authorized to redeem the ticket.


There are theoretically different ways to forge an online ticket. In addition to the spatial and temporal limitation of the validity, there are other options to protect the tickets against misuse and forgery.

Multiple use

The simplest option would be to use a ticket multiple times. Since the ticket is printed out by the customer himself or is only available to him in electronic form, he can make any number of copies of it. If he uses the identical tickets one after the other, the seller notices this at the latest when comparing the checked tickets with the tickets sold. In the case of mobile control devices, such as those used for ticket checks on trains, this can only be in the evening or the next day, as soon as the device is connected to the central database for data comparison.

Use with a different identity

Another option is to steal a valid certificate from a regular buyer. This is noticeable as soon as a ticket appears in the control several times. In the case of personalized tickets, this theft is not enough; the identification of the regular buyer must also be stolen. As a result, the regular buyer comes under suspicion of multiple use, which he cannot easily refute.

Theft of the certification process

If a fraudster succeeds in stealing the certification process and the associated secret key unnoticed, he and the ticket seller are able to create formally valid certificates and thus valid tickets. Registering all tickets sold in a database and comparing the checked tickets with this database can help against this form of fraud. The fraudster can only be arrested if the comparison is made online.

Online ticket from Deutsche Bahn

Online tickets from Deutsche Bahn are particularly popular in Germany . They were introduced on October 25, 1999 and were initially only issued as part of the now discontinued Surf & Rail special (before that, however, there was already the option of making and paying for seat reservations on your home computer). With these Surf & Rail online tickets (which were tied to the use of certain trains), a different procedure was used than today: an identity card or passport was sufficient as legitimation, and the train attendants carried lists with them that recorded all bookings for the train ( Surf & Rail was only offered for long-distance trains).

Since April 1, 2002, online tickets have also been used across the board for the normal tariff (i.e. also for connections that include local trains). In addition, a new legitimation procedure was introduced: Since then, the BahnCard or a credit card (which can also be different from the one with which the ticket was paid for) must be presented as legitimation. The new online tickets were initially only issued for trips 101 kilometers away. A few years later that minimum distance dropped to 51 kilometers. Regardless of this minimum distance, the online tickets at the normal rate were also issued from the start for pure local transport, i.e. also for trips where no long-distance trains (IC or ICE) were used for the entire duration. As a special feature, certain special offers such as the Schöne-Wochen-Ticket , the Quer-durch-Land-Ticket and the regional tickets can be booked as online tickets for self- printing since April 1, 2010.

Until mid-June 2003 only BahnCard customers could book online tickets. Until then, the number of bookings was up to 6,000 per day. According to its own information, the company sold a total of 7.7 million trips as online tickets in 2006, which corresponds to 17% of long-distance ticket sales. At the end of 2014, more than 2.8 million mobile phone and online tickets were sold every month - according to Deutsche Bahn, more than every second long-distance ticket. The average travel distance was 340 kilometers. Online tickets would be bought an average of 14 days before departure. Initially, online tickets from Deutsche Bahn could only be purchased with a credit card. Payment by credit card, SEPA direct debit, instant transfer and PayPal is currently possible.

The Aztec code (matrix code) of the ticket contains information on the departure station, destination station, route, trains, number of people traveling, tariff, travel date and carriage class. The traveler was identified by a BahnCard, EC (today Maestro ), credit card or (since 2010) federal identity card and is only used to verify authorization, but does not have to be saved permanently. A control data record with information about the train in which the online ticket was checked is stored in the railway's mobile control devices. However, this does not contain any personal data.

With the timetable change on December 12, 2010, the 50 km limit for booking country tickets as online tickets was no longer applicable. Since the beginning of 2012, online tickets can also be paid for via PayPal . In 2013, online ticket sales are set to become the largest sales channel for Deutsche Bahn tickets for the first time, with a turnover share of 29 percent. In mid-2015, around half of Deutsche Bahn long-distance tickets were sold online, around 25 million tickets per month. Online tickets to all destinations between Germany and Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland have been available since mid-2016. Previously this was only possible for certain start and destination locations.

In October 2016, the required identification card, which had to be specified in advance, was no longer required. It is now sufficient to provide the first and last name and the salutation. The ticket does not contain any other personal data. However, the ticket remains personal. When checking on the train, passengers must identify themselves with an official photo ID or with the BahnCard (possibly also with photo ID). This step made it possible to book tickets for third parties without having to obtain information from them in advance using an ID card. A student ID, driver's license or troop ID is not enough to identify yourself.

With a share of around 40 percent, online and mobile phone tickets are now Deutsche Bahn's most important sales channel. In 2002, sales of 41 million euros were achieved, in 2008 one billion and in 2016 just under 2.5 billion euros. In March 2017, almost 3.5 million online tickets were sold.

In 2013, Deutsche Bahn suffered seven million euros in damage through fraud with online tickets.

Online ticket in other areas

In addition, the online ticket is increasingly being used in other areas. Above all, the use in air traffic such as B. at Lufthansa , the use in the local transport sector such. B. at the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg and in the concert and exhibition area on the ticket platform Eventim .

Individual evidence

  1. Alexander Nouak: Online Ticket. ( Memento from July 11, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD, February 2003
  2. Online tickets for everyone . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International , Issue 8–9 / 2003, ISSN  1421-2811 , p. 342.
  3. Online tickets are becoming increasingly popular with Deutsche Bahn. In: heise online , January 16, 2007.
  4. Deutsche Bahn AG (Ed.): This is how online customers of Deutsche Bahn travel ( Memento from April 11, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) . Press release from December 29, 2014.
  5. Without a source
  6. punishment.shtml
  7. Data protection for online tickets from Deutsche Bahn. In:
  8. DB with new price logic for the Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland tickets. Deutsche Bahn AG (ed.). Press release from December 1, 2010.
  9. Rail: PayPal payment for online tickets introduced. In: , February 20, 2012, accessed on March 3, 2012
  10. Peter Kirnich: Better in than on the net . In: Frankfurter Rundschau . August 26, 2013, p. 16 .
  11. a b Holger Bajohra: On the trail of online fraudsters . In: Your train . tape 43 , no. 7 , 2015, ISSN  0172-4479 , p. 46-47 .
  12. Online tickets for abroad . In: mobile . July 2016, ISSN  0949-586X , ZDB -ID 1221702-5 , p. 85 .
  13. Deutsche Bahn: Starting today, online tickets can be booked without an identification card. In: October 1, 2016, accessed October 6, 2016 .
  14. Pioneer in digital ticket sales: Deutsche Bahn is celebrating 15 years of online tickets. Online sales DB’s most important sales channel • Train drivers book almost 3.5 million online tickets per month • Video competition for the anniversary. In: Deutsche Bahn, May 4, 2017, archived from the original on May 10, 2017 ; accessed on May 6, 2017 .
  15. Paper tickets in air traffic are not dying out completely. In: