In Germany, the legality of reselling tickets depends on several factors. There are some restrictions around reselling tickets, but it is not completely prohibited in most cases. Understanding the nuances around German ticket resale laws can help you stay on the right side of the rules if you choose to resell tickets.
Can you resell tickets in Germany?
Yes, it is legal to resell tickets in Germany in many circumstances. However, there are some restrictions in place that ticket resellers need to be aware of.
The key factors that determine whether reselling a ticket is allowed or not are:
- The original ticket terms and conditions set by the event organizer or original ticket seller
- Whether the ticket is being resold at or below face value
- Whether the platform you use to resell the ticket allows ticket resale activities
As long as the ticket terms do not explicitly prohibit transfers or resale, reselling at or below face value is generally permitted. Reselling tickets above face value is more restricted but not outright illegal in all cases.
Ticket terms and conditions
The terms and conditions printed on the ticket will often outline the organizer’s policy on transfers and resale. Many tickets say they are “non-transferrable” which essentially prohibits the buyer from reselling or passing them onto someone else.
It is critical to check the fine print on any ticket before considering reselling it. Violating the terms and conditions makes the resale unauthorized and illegal. Trying to resell non-transferrable tickets could result in cancellation of the tickets without refund or prosecution for fraud.
On the other hand, if the terms and conditions do not mention resale, transfers are usually permitted. The lack of an explicit ban gives the buyer the right to resell or give the tickets to another party if desired.
Reselling at or below face value
German law prohibits the unauthorized resale of tickets at prices higher than the original face value. This ban originally targeted illegal ticket scalping activities where scalpers would buy up tickets and profit from highly inflated resale prices.
As a result, it is generally legal for an individual to resell tickets at or below face value, even if transfers are not permitted. While this still violates the non-transferrable policy, it at least avoids the problematic profiteering aspects.
Selling tickets above face value does fall into a legal grey area. It is not completely illegal in all cases, but does carry additional restrictions compared to resale at face value or below.
Certain specialized platforms like Viagogo and StubHub allow users to resell tickets, even above face value. This does not necessarily make all resale activities on these sites fully legal however.
Germany has banned some of these platforms before when they violate local anti-scalping laws. Before reselling tickets on a platform, you should research if it has faced any legal challenges or bans in Germany related to ticket resale.
Platforms that take more precautions to limit fraudulent sales or scalping activities are lower risk options for reselling any type of ticket, including those with restrictions.
Penalties for unauthorized resale
If you are caught violating ticket terms and conditions, reselling where prohibited, or scalping tickets at inflated prices, there can be legal penalties in Germany.
Potential penalties and legal consequences could include:
- Fines of up to €20,000 from anti-scalping laws for reselling at higher than face value
- Cancellation of tickets without refund
- Prosecution for fraud if intentionally deceiving buyers
- Civil lawsuits from event organizers to enforce ticket terms
These penalties highlight the care that needs to be taken if choosing to resell tickets. Following the rules and restrictions in place is crucial to avoid legal troubles.
Restrictions around major events
Tickets to very high-demand events often have extra restrictions in place. For example, tickets to the World Cup or Olympics may have special national laws limiting resale imposed.
FIFA historically requires all World Cup tickets to be non-transferrable. Any resale is prohibited and risky. The steep demand makes World Cup tickets a prime scalping target, so FIFA takes a hard line against unauthorized resale.
Similarly, tickets to events like concerts for extremely popular bands (e.g. The Rolling Stones) will usually have very tight restrictions too. The organizers want to limit scalpers profiting off the substantial demand.
Before reselling any ticket, researching the specific event’s policies is wise. The more prominent the event, the more likely strict limits are in place.
Using auctions to resell
When reselling tickets legally in Germany, using auction sites like eBay poses some additional risks. Auctions inherently involve dynamic pricing where the sale price ends up above face value.
While auctions are not completely illegal, they increase the chances of accidentally violating anti-scalping legislation. Bids going significantly above face value could lead to prosecution.
Fixed price resale, ideally at or below face value, reduces the issues around auctions. You also need to consider that sites like eBay charge seller fees that further cut into profits. After fees, you may end up reselling at a net loss anyway.
Reselling sparingly vs commercially
German authorities pay closer attention to people reselling tickets on a large commercial scale rather than individuals doing so sparingly.
If you just want to offload a spare ticket or two you can no longer use, that draws less scrutiny than someone snapping up tickets deliberately for profit. Commercial-scale resale looks more like illegal scalping, even if done on approved platforms.
Avoid consistently reselling large volumes of tickets. Keep it on a small personal scale to be safest legally.
Use of bots and other unfair advantages
When acquiring tickets originally, you must do so fairly like any other member of the public. Techniques like using ticket buying bots gives an unfair advantage over normal buyers.
Tickets obtained this way can be illegal to then resell. Event organizers are likely to cancel tickets purchased unfairly through bots or other means. This protects everyday fans from predatory scalping practices.
Reselling football tickets
For football matches in the Bundesliga or other leagues, there are some special regulations on ticket transfers. Supporter groups often hold exclusive rights to blocks of tickets.
It is advisable to avoid reselling football tickets purchased through supporter groups, as they frequently prohibit transfers. Football tickets purchased openly through the club or authorized sellers are safer to resell.
Be also aware that IDs are commonly required to enter football stadiums in Germany. Purchasers must be informed if they will require the original buyer’s ID to use tickets bought through resale.
Consumer protection concerns
When reselling tickets legally, you also must ensure buyer’s rights are protected. Failure to deliver valid tickets as promised could violate German consumer protection laws.
Avoid making commitments you cannot guarantee – for example, promising weekend festival tickets will be delivered before Thursday if you will not actually have them in hand until Friday. Buyer’s rights also include proper refunds where required.
Document all transactions and conversations to protect yourself against potential consumer complaints. Be open and clear with buyers about any restrictions that may apply to tickets sold.
If reselling tickets as a commercial venture, you likely need to declare profits on your taxes. While occasional small personal sales are fine, regular high-volume resale could qualify as a business.
Ensure you are reselling tickets legally before considering it as a income stream. Speak to a tax professional about any potential tax obligations that may apply.
Reselling tickets is allowed in Germany but requires care around numerous restrictions. Avoiding non-transferrable tickets, unfair buying advantages, or excessive pricing are key to remain on the right side of German law.
For regular fans or individuals looking to offload spare tickets, some occasional resale is generally fine. But those considering reselling tickets professionally or in high volumes must take extra steps to comply with additional regulations applicable to commercial resale activities.
As long as you thoroughly research the rules, stick to approved resale platforms, and avoid banned scalping-type behavior, reselling tickets legally in Germany is possible for many events.