Legislation was approved by the Scottish Parliament in March 2021 enabling the introduction of a new statutory scheme to allow 5-18 year olds resident in Scotland to access free bus travel through the National Entitlement Card (NEC) and the Young Scot branded NEC. Following a further commitment made by the Scottish Government, legislation to allow the scheme to be extended to include those aged under 22 was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 23 August 2021.
Subject to Parliamentary approval of the extension, around 930,000 young people will benefit from the new scheme, which will embed more sustainable travel behaviours from a young age and help to meet our target of net zero emissions by 2045.
The Scottish Government continues to work with its partners at the Improvement Service and National Entitlement Card Programme Office – who are responsible for the management of the NEC and support local authorities with the application process – and Young Scot to deliver the scheme, which will become operational on 31 January 2022.
This means all residents in Scotland aged between 5-21 will be eligible for free bus travel from 31 January 2022.
Read the latest news and find out more information on the legislation and our plans for the new scheme.
How to apply
Work is still ongoing to finalise the application process. Most existing cardholders will not have to reapply for a new card, but will have to apply for the travel element to be enabled on their card.
Further information will be provided for existing cardholders and new applicants here later this year.
Parents or guardians will be required to approve applications for young people under the age of 16 to ensure they can exercise their responsibility for their children’s safety. This includes providing approval for existing cardholders to access the scheme.
If you need a new or replacement NEC or Young Scot NEC for other services then please contact your local authority.