Every city in the world has its own rules and regulations regarding street music. Some places love it, others not so much. For all the ins and outs in Berlin check out the points below. If there is something missing or you still have any questions, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Laws changed half way through 2015, please see the amendments below. Lately we have also been hearing stories of further changes in Friedrichshain/Kreuzberg limiting the amount of busking pitches. These claims have not yet been confirmed but if you hear of anything then please let us know!
Is Busking allowed in Berlin?
Yes. But there are rules, so keep reading.
Can I use an amplifier when playing on the Street?
Yes you can, but legally you need to get a permit (Genehmigung) to do so. This permit can be obtained from the Ordnungsamt by filling out an application (which I did at the Bürgeramt in Pankow). They will then check your application and send you a permit dependent on payment of a yearly fee, which for me was 60€, and can take up to 3 or 4 weeks. Once you have a valid permit, there are still restrictions on where and when you can play (keep reading). 3 weeks before the year is up, if you haven't been complained about or warned too many times, then you should be able to renew the permit for another 3 years.
The laws have changed and now in order to busk with an amp in Berlin you need a separate permit for EACH BEZIRK. That means you must apply for Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg etc. separately. Each permit will now cost between 60 and 80€ for a year. The permits can be obtained by filling out the attached form and sending it to the respective Ordnungsamt (or Umwelt- und Naturschutzamt where applicable). I am currently in the middle of the process and will update the information as I get it.
Download the application form HERE
I have a permit for my amp. Can I now play anywhere?
No. The permit still has restrictions. The following maps show in red where you are NOT allowed to play with an amp, even if you have a permit. You are also not allowed to use amplification for any purpose in any park. You can still technically play in these places without amplification, but you may still get asked to leave.
What if I don't need an amplifier?
If you don't use an amplifier and are reasonably quiet, you are essentially allowed to play anywhere you like, including the restricted areas on the permit for amplifiers. This however does not include drums, pipe didgeridoos, trumpets or other loud instruments. The final say as to whether something is too loud is up to the Police or Ordnungsamt. If they tell you you are too loud, or if they tell you anything for that matter, legally you must listen to them.
Should I just keep playing if the Police stop me?
No. Written in the rules is the fact that the governing officer, be it Police or Ordnungsamt, have the final say. If they ask you to stop, you stop. If they ask you to move, you move. They have the power to fine you up to 5000€. They probably won't, at least they haven't yet, but they can, so don't push your luck.
Ok, but what are the rules?
In short, the rules for busking in Berlin, whether you are amplified and have a permit, or unamplified without a permit are as follows:
- You must be 60m+ from a hospital
- You must be 20m+ from residential buildings
- You cannot play in front of schools during school hours
- You cannot play in front of churches during services
- You are only allowed to play between the hours of 8am and 1pm and 3pm and 8pm
- You can only be in one place for a maximum of one hour, or 15 minutes in pedestrian zones
- After the time limit is up you must move at least 100m away
- Amplifiers must have a permit and must only be loud enough as to be classified as background music
- Amplification cannot be used in parks or in the red areas in the maps above
- It is up to the governing officer as to whether your instrument is too loud to be classified as acoustic or not
- Failure to listen to a governing officer can result in heavy fines
I speak German, can you just give me the rules?
Yes. Click HERE to download a copy of the current regulations.
What about in the U-Bahn?
The U-Bahn system is very different to above ground busking and is controlled through a separate permit system. In order to play in an U-Bahn station you must get a permit from the dedicated office at U-Bahnhof Rathaus Steglitz on Wednsedays between 7 and 11am. The permit is for up to three people playing in one station for one day and costs 7,20€. It also includes a travel pass to and from your chosen station. You can use an amplifier but the volume must be at a reasonable level. If you speak German, you can find the information HERE