Free Travel for Scottish Young People
5-21 year olds living in Scotland can now apply to access free bus travel.
Even if you already have a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC, you must apply for a new or replacement card to travel by bus for free. Parents, guardians or carers must provide approval for children aged between 5-15 to access the scheme by applying on their behalf. Young people aged 16-21 should apply themselves.
However, if you’re aged between 16 and 21 and already have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC, you can download free bus travel onto your existing card using the Transport Scotland Pass Collect app. This means you may not need to apply for a new card to access your free bus travel.
The Transport Scotland website provides information on the scheme and how to apply.
There are a number of different ways to apply, not just through the online portal:
- Online at GETYOURNEC.SCOT (or through parentsportal.scot if this is used by your child’s school).
- Through your local council: if you cannot, or do not want to, apply online please contact your local council who can tell you how to proceed.
- Using the Transport Scot Pass Collect app: if you’re aged 16 or over and have an active NEC / Young Scot NEC you can use the app to download your free bus travel onto your existing card.
Frequently Asked Questions can be found here - Young Persons' Free Bus Travel Scheme | Frequently Asked Questions | Transport Scotland
Please pay particular attention to:
Why can’t Young Scot cardholders under 16 use the app?
For young people aged 5-15, a parent, guardian or carer must apply on for free bus travel on their behalf. This is to make sure the parent, guardian or carer knows that the young person is able to travel for free by bus, and can ensure their child is safe and well.
During the application process, it is important to verify who the person making the application is, who the child is, and know that the person making the application is authorised to act on behalf of that child. As the app cannot store personal data, this information cannot be captured or verified. This means that for anyone aged 5-15, parents, guardians or carers will need to apply for a new card either online or through their local council.
If all 5–21 year olds travel free, why do I need a new NEC or Young Scot NEC?
Digital access to the free bus travel scheme will be added to your new card.
All bus journeys made under the scheme must be recorded so that the Scottish Government can reimburse operators for the fare. Tapping your NEC or Young Scot NEC on the ticket machine each time you travel makes this possible.
This also helps keep card holders safe as once you’ve tapped, the driver knows that you are eligible for free bus travel. This is important if you are 5-15 years old as your parent, guardian or carer must approve you to travel for free by bus.
However, those who already have an existing active NEC or Young Scot NEC and are aged between 16 and 21, can use the app to download free travel onto that existing card. Once the product has been successfully downloaded onto the card, the cardholder can jump on the bus for free immediately.
If you don’t have a valid card, you will need to pay your fare in the normal way.
Cards must not be used by or given to any other person for their use.
Transport operators may refuse free travel to anyone where the image on the card doesn’t match the person presenting it.
Transport Scotland has a fraud policy and any person(s) found to be misusing any aspect of the scheme (including allowing a card to be used by someone else) may have their entitlement to free bus travel suspended. Incidents of misuse may also be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.