Free bus travel for under 22s starting in Scotland - how to apply, who is eligible, where you can travel

A free bus travel scheme for Scots under the age of 22 has been launched.

All young people and children aged between 5-21 can now apply for a card to access the scheme, which starts on January 31.

As the Scottish Government is encouraging people to stay home as much as possible at the moment, only those who have an essential need to travel by bus are asked to apply right now.

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Who is eligible?

If you are aged between 5-21 and live in Scotland you can apply for the card.

The new bus travel scheme has launched in Scotland.

Children under the age of 5 can already travel on buses in Scotland for free.

Children and young people aged 5−21 years old will need a new or replacement National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) before hopping on board. Previously issued cards will not allow access to the scheme.

How do I apply for a card?

You can either apply online at GETYOURNEC.SCOT or (if your child’s school uses it) on parentsportal.scot.

If you’re applying online you can download or look out the documents as outlined on GETYOURNEC.SCOT that you will need. You can apply using a smartphone/tablet or a computer depending on your preference, and if you don’t have scanned copies of your documents, you can take photos of your proofs during the application process using a smartphone/tablet.

Alternatively you can apply in person at your local council office.

  • If you are aged 16-21 you must apply for a new NEC yourself
  • A parent or guardian must apply on behalf of 5–15 year olds and provide approval for them to travel for free by bus
  • Children under 5 years old do not need a card as they already travel for free on commercial bus services

If you cannot apply online, there are many other ways to apply, contact your local council.

In some local council areas, schools are coordinating applications on behalf of their pupils. Schools will contact parents or guardians and pupils directly if this arrangement is in place.

You should allow up to ten working days from the date your application was approved for your card to arrive. Please be patient – the current situation with the pandemic means that it might take longer to process applications.

Due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on staffing levels, some local councils may not be able to offer in-person applications at all times so please do check their website or call before setting off.

Where can I travel with the card?

The scheme gives card holders free bus travel anywhere in Scotland - including services outside the Glasgow area.

Only a few services, such as sight-seeing bus tours and premium-fare night services, will not accept the card.

How do I use the card?

The smart card does most of the work. Just tell the bus driver where you are going, put your card on the electronic card reader and you’re done.

If you forget your card or it gets damaged and no longer works, you’ll have to pay a fare.

More information

To learn more about the free bus travel scheme, visit the Transport Scotland site.