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If you find yourself (intentionally or otherwise) on public transport in Berlin without a ticket, unless you want to give over €40, you will need to know how to recognize the inspectors.

I know that it is tempting to ride around Berlin without a ticket as there are no barriers or regular checks, and you may well be lucky and spend days, weeks even months travelling ticket free without a check, but probably not. I see the inspectors more and more every month and it may just be me, but they seem to be getting less and less understanding.

Okay so first of all you should, where possible, stand by the door so that if you see them you can jump off un noticed. If on the U Bahn it is also advisable to try and board one of the extra long carriages so you are less trapped and it is more likely that you’ll reach the next station before they reach you.

In most cases the inspectors go round in pairs or groups of three. They are usually men, quite well built, short dark hair and rather grumpy looking. If there is a woman with them she will most likely be smallish, died blonde hair in a tight pony tail, earrings and pursed lips. These are of course huge generalisationa and as the warning says, anybody could be an inspector.

They usually wear black, leather jackets are a favorite  and have a black money bag concealed somewhere. In summer it is harder to tell from the clothes but black remains a favorite  casual but plain – imagine off duty policemen. That said I’ve been checked by a young guy in trackies.

In some ways it’s the attitude which most betrays them. They have a certain nonchalant arrogance, as if their dad owns the BVG but they don’t give a shit. They’re bored and their only distraction is catching YOU.

They get on the train together, usually not talking, then they spread across the carriage. This is your cue to feign re checking the map and jump off into safety.

If, god forbid, you are caught, don’t panic, you may still have a chance. Albeit a very small chance (largely dependent on your sex, attractiveness and ability to bullshit in German – and the mood of the lucky inspector . Don’t try and pretend you lost it (unless you’re a Scarlett Johannsen look alike) they don’t buy that. Act all innocent and announce your destination, ‘ Single to Alexanderplatz please’, they will tell you this is not possible and that you must buy tickets before boarding. Look surprised  ‘But there was no ticket office/barrier /the machine only took cards/was broken…). To be honest, this probably won’t work, but it’s always worth a try.

They will then demand either immediate payment or your address. Giving your address is a gamble, I once gave my parents address in London and received a bill the next week. If you say you have no cash they may march you to the nearest atm, but sometimes this is a bit too much effort and they let you off .

It’s better not to be caught so either buy a ticket or always have an eye out for the men in black.

eleanorfa
Hello, I’m Eleanor, I’m 23 and I want to share my Berlin with you! I come from London, studied in Edinburgh and now live in Schöneberg in West Berlin. I fell in love with the city whilst visiting a friend a few years ago and that love has only grown since I moved here last January. I work part time in a Kindergarten and for a film company and I spend all the hours in between exploring the nooks and crannies of this wondrous city. Candlelit cafes with impossibly comfy armchairs and old French jazz, cavernous wine bars, bustling restaurants that spill out onto the street and into the night, every corner holds a new place and a new adventure!

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