What are the rules for busking in Berlin?

  • Posted on: 28 January 2020
  • By: Eileen Möller

The BVG (Berlin’s public transport company) allows busking under certain conditions and at certain locations in the connecting tunnels of the U-Bahn network (busking on board of trains is forbidden!). You need to apply for a permit. The permits are handed out every Wednesday from 7am until 11am at the service counter inside the Wittenbergplatz station. The permit is valid for the following week and costs 10 Euro per day. It’s also valid as a transportation ticket, but for the applicant only (non-transferable). For groups consisting of up to three people one permit is enough, but the permit is only valid as a transportation ticket for one person (the applicant). Further information on permitted musical instruments can be found on the BVG’s website (in German only). Note that the S-Bahn is operated by a different company, and busking at S-Bahn stations has to be approved by their station management. For any other public spaces, there is no office that hands out permits. It's up to the individual districts and its "Ordnungsamt" (regulatory authority) to determine if busking is considered a “disturbance” or not (source, in German only). Decisions are usually made on a case-by-case basis. Amplified instruments or playing recorded music (backing tracks, etc.) are generally allowed if played at a "normal" volume.
Busking/street music is generally not considered as a disturbance if:
it takes place between 8am and 1pm or between 3pm and 8pm
the performance doesn't exceed 60 minutes at one location
the distance to the closest apartment building is more than 20 meters, the distance to the closest sensitive building (hospital, old-age home...) is at least 60 meters
it doesn't take place close to a church during a church service
it doesn't take place in viewing distance to a school during class hours
Busking/street music can be considered as a disturbance if:
very loud instruments are involved (trombones, trumpets, timbals/kettledrums, drums)
the musical group consists of a very large group
other local or temporal circumstances that cause busking to be considered a disturbance
Berlin Street Music compiled more additional information on regulations. Save Mauerpark is an advocacy group for street musicians in the city. The Fête de la Musique festival, which takes place every year on June 21st, allows street musicians to perform according to specific conditions (link in German only). Note that every city/municipality in Germany has different rules. BackstagePro has more information on rules in other cities (in German only).