Overview

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

Most frequently asked questions: where to get help

If it has been more than 10 working days (2 calendar weeks) and you have not received your card

Remember, you can login to see the progress of your application.

Get in contact through getyournec.scot

If you have questions or concerns about the application process that cannot be answered on this website

For online, get in contact through getyournec.scot

For offline, please contact your local council

If you have problems using the card once you are on the bus

Contact concessionarytravel@transport.gov.scot

If you have a question about Young Scot services, contact info@young.scot


All young people and children aged 5-21 years can apply for a card to access the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme, which began on 31 January 2022.

You will need a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC with the valid free travel entitlement with you whenever you want to take the bus – otherwise you’ll have to pay for your trip.

Eligibility

If you live in Scotland and are 5-21 years old you are eligible for a card giving you free bus travel. Children under 5 years old already travel for free on buses and don’t need a card. Applications for cards are now open.

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.

Learn more about how you can apply for the scheme.

However, from February 28, if you’re aged between 16 and 21 and you already have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC issued prior to applications opening on 10 January 2022, you can download free bus travel onto your existing card using the Transport Scot Pass Collect app. This means you may not need to apply for a new card to access your free bus travel.

Active cards are those received since 2016 – they’ll have a long number next to the ITSO logo and, if there’s a date of birth shown, it will be highlighted with a pink strip.

Find out more about how to download and use the app.

The Scottish Government is working in partnership with the Improvement Service (who are accountable for the NEC Scheme), 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.

From Monday 24 January, the acceptable 'proofs' you can provide for the Young Persons' Free Bus Travel Scheme whether applying online or through offline application routes allow some extra flexibility - see Frequently Asked Questions for full details. Briefly, 'out of date passports' can be used to support an application and proof of residency documents may be dated within the last 12 months.

Asylum seekers and refugees

Asylum seekers and refugees aged between 5 and 21 can access the scheme. As with all others of those ages living in Scotland, they can apply for a National Entitlement Card (NEC) to access free bus travel.

To apply, find out what documents you can use to provide proof on the NEC website.

The Application Registration Card (ARC), issued by the Home Office, can be used in conjunction with other information/evidence to apply for a NEC in person, through your local council.

When an application is made in person, officials can vouch for an applicant (or a parent acting on their behalf) by considering other information/evidence which cannot be used in the online application process.

The ARC is not accepted as proof of identity on its own, or for online applications as, under the UK Proof of Age Scheme (PASS), it cannot be used to establish evidence of identification online and there is no online equivalent to the help provided offline to support applications.

Where can I travel?

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

The scheme will give you free travel on any bus in any part of Scotland on registered bus services. You can travel on buses outside the area you live in using your card. Only a few services, such as premium-fare night buses and City Sightseeing buses, will not accept the card. Contact the bus company before you travel if you are unsure.

If travelling, you should always follow the latest advice to keep yourself and others safe.

Find out more about the benefits of free bus travel at freebus.scot

Using your card

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

Using your card is really easy. Make sure you have your card with you and then when you get on the bus, tell the bus driver where you are going, tap it on the electronic card reader to use it and the smart technology will do the rest.

If you are over 11 years old you can choose to apply for the Young Scot NEC. You can use it to save money with in-person and online discounts – with over 500 discounts in Scotland and over 100,000 deals across Europe. It also acts as proof of age. What’s more, you can collect points by taking part in activities and exchanging these for Rewards. Find out more at Young Scot’s website.

Remember:

  • You will need a new or replacement NEC or Young Scot NEC to travel for free on the bus.
  • It’s your card and only your card – your friends can’t borrow it.
  • Take good care of it – if you forget it or it gets damaged and doesn’t work, you’ll need to pay the fare.
  • If your card has a photo, make sure it is up to date and it looks like you
  • Always keep in touch with your family and friends to let them know where you are – it’s important to stay safe

The main thing is to have your card with you whenever you want to take the bus – otherwise you’ll have to pay for your trip. Parents or guardians – this means you too! Don’t forget your child’s card when they are travelling with you.

Read some top tips on planning your bus journey and what to expect at freebus.scot

How to apply

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

Eligibility

If you are 5-21 years old and live in Scotland you are eligible for free bus travel.

All children and young people aged 5-21 will need to apply for a new or replacement National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) to access free bus travel. Previously issued cards will not allow you access to the scheme. Children aged under 5 years do not need a card as they already travel for free on commercial bus services across Scotland.

However, from February 28, if you’re aged between 16 and 21 and you already have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC, you can download free bus travel onto your existing card using the Transport Scot Pass Collect app. This means you may not need to apply for a new card to access your free bus travel.

Active cards are those received since 2016 – they’ll have a long number next to the ITSO logo and, if there’s a date of birth shown, it will be highlighted with a pink strip.

Find out more about how to download and use the app.

The photograph on the card must look like you (if your NEC or Young Scot NEC includes a photo) to travel by bus for free.

Read the scheme’s full terms and conditions.

How to Apply

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 may find it useful, before starting the application process, to 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 directly with your local council. 

  • If you are aged 16-21 you must apply for a new NEC yourself
  • A parent, guardian or carer 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

To aid applications made through getyournec.scot, videos have been made which walk you through the online application process step-by-step:

What you will need to apply online

Before you apply online this is what you’ll need. You won’t be able to save and resume your application, so please get this information ready before you start.

Applying for a National Entitlement Card for yourself aged 16+? 

To apply you will need:

  • a device with a camera or webcam (laptop/tablet/phone).
  • to sign in using your mygovscot myaccount (click register if you don’t have one).
  • a recent digital photo showing your head and shoulders.
  • proof of identity (passport, driving licence, Young Scot card, Biometric Residence Permit or use your Yoti account).
  • proof of address (such as Council Tax bill or bank statement).
Parent/guardian/carer applying on behalf of your child aged under 16?

To apply you will need:

  • a device with a camera or webcam (laptop/tablet/phone).
  • to sign in using your mygovscot myaccount (click register if you don’t have one).
  • parent/guardian/carer proof of identity (passport, driving licence, Young Scot card, Biometric Residence Permit or use your Yoti account).
  • parent/guardian/carer proof of address (such as Council Tax bill or bank statement).
  • proof of your child's identity (eg. birth certificate (if under 11 only), passport, Biometric Residence Permit or Young Scot card).
  • proof of your child's address (only if they live at a different address from you).
  • a recent digital image of the child (if aged 11+) showing head and shoulders.
Proof of relationship

There are a number of documents you can use to show your relationship with your child:

  • Full Birth Certificate (abbreviated certificates cannot be used), or
  • Adoption Order, or
  • Kinship Care Order, or
  • Compulsory Supervision Order, or
  • Residence Order, or
  • Permanence Order, or
  • Guardianship Order, or
  • Parental Order, or
  • Something that shows you’re the main person looking after your child. This can be a copy of either a letter from your local authority or a legal order.

View a full list of accepted proof of address and photograph guidelines

Once you have applied on getyournec.scot, you can log back in to check the status of your application – i.e. submitted, approved, rejected.

If you cannot apply online, there are many other ways to apply, please 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.

Parentsportal.scot

If you live in any of the local council areas which uses parentsportal.scot you might find it convenient to apply for a new card through that route.

The local council areas are:

  • Aberdeenshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Fife
  • Moray
  • North Lanarkshire
  • Perth and Kinross
  • Renfrewshire
  • West Lothian.

Which NEC?

The type of National Entitlement Card you apply for and whether you need approval from a parent or guardian depends on your age.

Age Which NEC? Approval required?
0-4 year olds No card needed to travel for free by bus No
5-10 year olds NEC (without photo) Parent/guardian/carer to apply
11-15 year olds

NEC (with photo), or

Young Scot NEC

Parent/guardian/carer to apply
16-21 year olds

NEC (with photo), or

Young Scot NEC

Apply by themselves

For those aged 11+ it’s your choice whether you apply for the Young Scot NEC or a standard NEC. Remember that Young Scot offers discounts, rewards, membership and is PASS accredited, meaning you can use a Young Scot NEC as proof of age. Find out more at Young Scot’s website.

Your responsibilities

Remember:

  • The NEC is only valid for use by the person it’s issued to – no one else can use it
  • Take good care of your card. You must be physically carrying your card to access the scheme – if you forget it or it gets damaged and doesn’t work, you’ll need to pay the fare
  • If your card has a photo, make sure it is up to date and it looks like you
  • Always keep in touch with you family and friends to let them know where you are – it’s important to stay safe

Read the scheme terms and conditions.

Transport Scotland’s Pass Collect app

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

If you are aged between 16 and 21 and already have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC you can download your free bus travel using the Transport Scot Pass Collect app.

Active cards are those received since 2016 – they’ll have a long number next to the ITSO logo and, if there’s a date of birth shown, it will be highlighted with a pink strip. Please note, any NECs which are dedicated matriculation cards aren’t compatible with the app.

Young Scot card

Download the Transport Scot Pass Collect app on the App Store or Google Play to add free bus travel your existing card.

Download on the App Store logoDownload on the App Store

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the Google Play Store

How to download the app

You can use the app with an Android (version 6 or later) or iOS (version 6 or later) phone that is connected to the internet by Wi-Fi or mobile connection.

The phone must have Near Field Communication (NFC) compatibility. This is the same function you use for mobile contactless payments and is usually available on newer smartphones.

To download the app you will need to either be connected to Wi-Fi, or have 3G, 4G or 5G network connection with good mobile signal.

How to use the app

The app is simple and easy to use – just follow the instructions to read your card and download your free bus travel.

Watch this video from Young Scot for a useful step-by-step guide on how to use the app.

Update your cookie preferences to view the video.

 

Collecting free bus travel on your card

When you place your card at the back of your phone to download your free bus travel – in the same way you would use contactless payment – it’s important to make sure you hold it in the right place.

This is different depending on whether you have an Android or iOS phone. The correct place is usually at the top for iOS and in the middle for Android, as shown below.

Mobile phones showing the correct position for iOS (top of phone) and Android (middle of phone)

Checking what is on your card

The app can also be used by anyone to ‘read’ an NEC or Young Scot NEC to see what smart travel concession products/entitlements are stored on the card.

There are a few different products which might come up when you read your card. For under 22s free bus travel, you should look for one or both of the following:

  • Bus Pass (Y)
  • Bus Pass (Y 16+)

If you do not see one or both of the above when you read your card, you don’t have free bus travel on your card. You may have other products stored on your card,  such as Bus ID (Y) which indicates this is a young person’s card – but it is not free bus travel.

If you’re eligible, you can use the app to collect free bus travel on to your card. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a new NEC with free bus travel.

Top tips and more information about the app

  • The app is not personalised. This means you can use it to download someone else’s bus travel to their card – for example you could also help your friends download free bus travel onto their cards too – or use their app to download your own.
  • The app doesn’t store any personal information. You can read the full app terms and conditions for more information.
  • Please remember, the app is for those aged 16 and over to download free bus travel on to an existing NEC or Young Scot NEC.

Need help?

If you’ve successfully downloaded the app onto your phone but you’ve received an error message when using it, the message will provide details about what has gone wrong and tell you what to do next or who to contact. Check the error messages below to help.

It looks like you’re offline

Check you are connected to the internet. If you’re connected via mobile network, check you have a strong signal.

The NFC (Near Field Communication) is disabled

If you have NFC, you may need to switch this on in your settings. NFC is the same service used for mobile contactless payment – you can check online or with your phone provider to see if your phone has this.

Card read but nothing to collect

The app is only for those aged 16-21 who have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC.

Check your card is active – this means it was received after 2016, it should have a long number next to the ITSO logo and if your date of birth is on it, it will be highlighted with a pink strip.

If you have already applied for a new card, this means your application has nearly finished being processed and your new card will be with you soon.

If your card is active, and you have not already applied for a new card, please contact us using the details below as there may be an issue with your card.

Uh oh! Something went wrong, or we are busy

This message appears when there are too many people trying to collect bus travel at the same time. Please try again in a few minutes.

Remember to hold your card very still at the back of your phone. It’s important to place the card in the correct position, which is different depending on whether you have an Android or iOS phone. This correct position is usually at the top for iOS and in the middle for Android.

Oops that didn’t work – looks like your card is full

This message appears if you have lots of other travel tickets on your card. Please try again and if it still doesn’t work, please contact us using the details below.

Oops that didn’t work – we’re having trouble reading your card

This message usually appears if you have accidentally moved your card when holding it to the phone. Try again, putting your card on a table and holding your phone above it to help keep it steady. If you have a cover on your phone, please try removing this as well.

If it doesn’t work again after doing this, get in touch with us using the details below in case there is something wrong with your card (please remember to check you are using an active NEC or Young Scot NEC first).

Oops that didn’t work – looks like your card is not supported by this app

This usually appears if you try and read a smartcard that is not an NEC or Young Scot NEC – for example, a Subway or ScotRail card. The app is only for those aged 16-21 who have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC.

There is no supported app for this NFC tag

This usually appears if you try and read a smartcard that is an old version of the NEC or Young Scot NEC. The app is only for those aged 16-21 and so if you are in this age bracket and receive this message, you will need to apply for a new card. Find out how to apply for a new card.

Oops that didn’t work – looks like your card is expired

This usually appears when your card is no longer valid and means you will need to apply for a new card. Find out how to apply for a new card.

Check your card is active – this means it was received after 2016, it should have a long number next to the ITSO logo and if your date of birth is on it, it will be highlighted with a pink strip.

Oops that didn’t work – looks like your card is blocked

This usually appears when your card has already been replaced by a newer version. Please find your most recent card and use this instead.

If you cannot find the newer version, you will need to apply for a new card. Find out how to apply for a new card.

Get in touch

If the information above and the Frequently Asked Questions page don’t answer any queries you have about the app, or if you have issues using it, please contact us.

Don’t forget you can always use someone else’s Pass Collect app to check your card and download your free bus travel, if your phone isn’t compatible.

Email: concessionarytravel@transport.gov.scot
Telephone: 0141 272 7170

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Thursday: 9.00am to 4.30pm
  • Friday: 9.00am to 4.00pm
  • Closed on weekends and public holidays

Staying safe

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

There’s lots to think about as you travel on the bus. Read some top tips for travelling safely at freebus.scot

COVID-19

All COVID-19 rules and restrictions have been lifted in Scotland, but the virus has not gone away. Use ‘Covid sense’ to help protect yourself and others and stay up to date with travel advice.

  • The Scottish Government strongly recommend, if you are 12 or over, that you continue to wear a face covering in indoor public places and on public transport.
  • Stay at home if you or anyone in your household is experiencing coronavirus symptoms or if you are self-isolating
  • Plan your journey and when possible avoid busier services or places
  • Comply with any signage or instructions on bus or from transport staff as these measures are in place for everyone’s safety
  • Be considerate of the need for safety measures and the needs of fellow passengers or staff who may have impairments, disabilities or mobility issues
  • Follow good hand hygiene practices by washing hands before and after journeys or using hand sanitiser where possible.

​You should follow our advice on how to travel safely on public transport and the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 guidance on staying safe and protecting others.

Top tips for parents and guardians

Letting your young person use free nationwide bus travel may feel daunting. It’s a big responsibility and it can be difficult to know they’re safe. This is why we’re encouraging all parents and guardians to have conversations with their children about being safe and confident when travelling.

  • It’s never easy to start a serious conversation, so try to make it relevant for you. It can be helpful to break up discussions into bite-sized chats over a period of time. That gives you both a bit of space to process what you’ve spoken about and avoids anyone feeling like they’ve been lectured.
  • Have a chat about what they might expect to see while they are out, how to interact with the driver and other passengers, and how to use their card –especially if they are new to bus travel.
  • Getting your child used to using bus from a young age can build their confidence and independence.

Driver training

We’ve been working closely with Barnardo’s Scotland to provide simple and clear guidance for bus drivers on protecting children and young people and keeping them safe from harm. This covers a huge range of issues and provides helpful advice for drivers on how to report issues if they arise.

Access the training for drivers.

Martin Crewe, Director for Barnardo’s Scotland said:

"Barnardo’s Scotland is proud to have worked with Transport Scotland to create a bespoke training package on child safeguarding for bus drivers across Scotland.

Through training in general safeguarding and the signs of exploitation, we have helped to give bus drivers the confidence to recognise risks to young passengers’ safety and provided them with the knowledge of what to do and who to speak to if they have any concerns.”

Visit Barnardo’s Scotland for more information on their work and support.

Useful Contacts

Get help with applying or replacing your NEC or Young Scot NEC

Online

At your local council

Contact your local council

Due to the current situation with the pandemic, 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. It may also take longer than normal for your application to be processed.

Bus operators

If you have any questions about individual bus routes, services or journeys please contact the bus operator directly.

Get help with Transport Scotland’s Pass Collect app

For any questions about our app, or if you’re having any issues using the app, please contact:

Email: concessionarytravel@transport.gov.scot
Address: Concessionary Travel and Smart and Integrated Ticketing, Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow, G4 0HF

Opening hours:

    • Monday to Thursday: 9.00am to 4.30pm
    • Friday: 9.00am to 4.00pm
    • Closed on weekends and public holidays

Enquiries about the free bus travel scheme

Transport Scotland is responsible for the policy and some aspects of the delivery of the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme including the reimbursement of bus operators. The scheme is delivered through the National Entitlement Card (NEC). The Improvement Service is the accountable body for the NEC Scheme; it also operates and manages GETYOURNEC.SCOT and parentsportal.scot.

The National Entitlement Card Programme Office supports the Scheme’s operational management and delivery under a Service Level Agreement with the Improvement Service. This includes support to all Scottish local authorities for the NEC application process, including for card issue, renewals and replacements. 

For general information on the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Travel Scheme, or if there's anything you're not sure about, please contact:

Concessionary Travel and Integrated Ticketing Unit

Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow, G4 0HF

Email: concessionarytravel@transport.gov.scot

Office hours:
Monday-Thursday: 9am-4:30pm
Friday: 9am-4pm

 

Policy and legislation

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 (Young Scot card).

Following a further commitment made by the Scottish Government, legislation to allow the scheme to be extended to include those aged under 22 was approved by the Scottish Parliament in autumn 2021.

Read more about the scheme legislation and Impact Assessments.

Terms and Conditions

National Entitlement Card (NEC) and Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) must be in good working order

  • You – and parent/ guardians of cardholders aged between 5-15 years old – must ensure that your NEC or Young Scot NEC is kept in a good condition and presented to the bus ticket machine or other transport ticketing equipment in good working order i.e. undamaged in any way.
  • If your NEC or Young Scot NEC is damaged so that it cannot be scanned on the bus ticket machine (or other transport ticketing equipment) you will be required to pay the full fare for your journey. You – and parents/guardians of cardholders aged 5-15 years old - will have to ensure that the appropriate bus fare or other transport ticket can be paid in full by cash or other alternative payment methods.
  • If your NEC or Young Scot NEC is damaged it is your responsibility (or parents/guardians of young people aged between 5-15 years old) to request a replacement card from your local authority to allow access to free bus travel and any other transport discounts.
  • If you need a new or replacement NEC or Young Scot NEC then please see the advice above on how to a new card may be requested by using GETYOURNEC.SCOT, parentsportal.scot or by contacting your local council

NEC/Young Scot NEC – Not Transferable

  • Those eligible to access the young persons’ free bus travel scheme will be provided with a NEC or Young Scot NEC that is unique to them. Please carry your card with you when you are travelling.
  • Cards should be kept safe and must be used by the named cardholder only to access free bus travel.
  • 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.
  • Cardholders (and parents/guardians of cardholders aged 5-15 years old) have a duty to report any changes of circumstances which may affect entitlement, including changes of address, to their local authority.

General Information

  • Travel using a NEC or Young Scot NEC is subject to the normal regulations and conditions of carriage of each transport operator.
  • Your card gives you the same rights as a full-fare paying passenger.
  • The Young Scot NEC is part of the accredited proof of age card scheme PASS. This means that the Young Scot NEC can be used as proof of age.
  • The photo on your card needs to be kept up to date to use it to prove your age for age restricted products or services. Your card must not be used by any other person.

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy outlines how we use, store and share the personal information we hold about you in connection with our national concessionary travel schemes.

App Terms and Conditions

Read the terms and conditions for the Transport Scot Pass Collect app.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find the latest information on free bus travel for under 22s

 

Getting your card

Who can get free bus travel?

Every 5-21 year old living in Scotland for more than 6 months of the year can travel for free by bus if they have a valid National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC).

If you are 5-15 years old, your parent or guardian must apply for you. If you are 16-21 years old, you must apply for your own NEC or Young Scot NEC.

Children under 5 years old do not need an NEC as they can already travel for free on buses.

How do I get free bus travel?

You will need a NEC or a Young Scot NEC. You will not be able to travel for free on the bus without one. If you already have a card, you will need to apply for a replacement which will allow free bus travel.

What will I need to get a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC?

You will need to provide proof of person (your name and age), proof of residence (where you usually live) and a photograph if you are 11 years old or over.

Parents, guardians or (in some cases) carers will need to provide proofs of person and address for both themselves and their child, as well as proof of the relationship.

From Monday 24 January, the acceptable 'proofs' you can provide for the Young Persons' Free Bus Travel Scheme whether applying online or through offline application routes allow:

  • 'out of date' passports to be regarded as acceptable proof documents. The key criterion will be the physical likeness of the photo, with no timeframe restriction being applied to a passport expiry date
  • a suitable proof of residency type document with either current date or dated within the last 12 months will be accepted.

Find out what documents you can use to provide proof on the NEC website. If you are aged 5-15 years old, your parent/guardian/carer must apply for your NEC on your behalf. If you are aged 16-21 years old, you must apply by yourself.

Why do I need to provide proofs to apply for free bus travel?

We need to be able to check and verify who you are and whether you are eligible for the scheme, so we ask for proof of person (your name and age) and proof of residence (where you live).

For children aged 5-15 years old, we also need to carry out some extra checks for child safety reasons. We need to be able to verify who the person making the application is, the child is, and know that they are authorised to act on behalf of that child.

When doing this, we need to make sure we comply with identity verification standards and protocols, and with standards required by the UK National Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS). Young Scot NECs carry the PASS logo and can be used as proof of age.

I live in Scotland for part of the year. Can I still get free bus travel?

If you live in Scotland for most of the year (at least 6 months), then you are eligible.

I already have a disabled National Entitlement Card (NEC) for the Older and Disabled Scheme. Will I need a new card?

It is your choice. Some local council areas provide discounted travel on rail, tram or subway with a Disabled Persons’ NEC, but you are likely to have to renew that card more often. Currently, a Disabled Persons’ NEC is valid for up to three years. Further information can be found on our website.

However, if you have a Disabled Companion NEC, allowing a companion to travel for free with you, then you should not change to the new scheme. The new scheme does not allow anyone to travel with you for free.

My application’s been rejected. Why?

You should be told why your application has been rejected and given advice on how to submit a successful application. Check to see that your details are all correct and your photo meets all the requirements. If that doesn’t work, get in touch with your local council.

How long do I need to wait for my new National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC?

New or replacement cards generally arrive in the post within 10 working days from the date each application is approved. However, demand is expected to be high in January and delivery may take longer.

We know many young people will want to get free bus travel as the new scheme begins, and we will be working hard to process applications as quickly as possible. In some cases, it may not be possible to get a card to you before the free bus travel scheme launches.

If you have applied for a Young Scot NEC through your school, the school can provide more information on when your card will be delivered.

My details aren’t right. What do I do?

Most cardholders can update their details at getyournec.scot or get in touch with your local council to have your details amended.

Why does my parent or guardian have to apply for a National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC on my behalf?

If you are 5-15 years old, then your parent or guardian must apply on your behalf. This will make sure they are aware that you get to travel for free by bus, so that they can ensure you are safe and well. If you are 16 years old and over, you must apply yourself.

I don’t want to throw away my old National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC. Can it be recycled?

Yes it can. Check our website for more information.

Why do parents/guardians of 5 -15 year olds have to apply on their behalf?

If you are a parent or guardian of a 5-15 year old, then you must apply on their behalf. This will allow you to continue to exercise responsibility over their wellbeing and safety.

By applying on their behalf, you are agreeing for them to receive an NEC or Young Scot NEC that allows them to travel for free on any registered bus service in Scotland, as well as a limited number of local cross border services into northern England.

I am a parent, but my child doesn’t live with me. Can I apply on their behalf?

Your child can only have one National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC. You should decide which parent or guardian applies on their behalf.

Young people who are 16-21 years old must apply themselves. If your 16-21 year old needs additional support with their application, please contact your local council.

I don’t want my child to have free bus travel. How do I make sure that they don’t get it?

You should not apply for the free bus travel scheme. Also, a parent or guardian must apply on behalf of 5-15 year olds. If you are applying on behalf of your child for a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC, do not ‘opt in’ to the free bus travel entitlement. This will allow them to receive their card without access to free bus travel.

Once a young person is 16 years old and over, they can apply for their own NEC or Young Scot NEC and get access to free bus travel.

My child will soon be five. How soon can I apply?

You can apply for a National Entitlement Card from two weeks before your child’s fifth birthday.

Will my child’s school be arranging to help apply for cards, including getting parental approval?

Your local council will let you know if they are offering to place bulk orders for National Entitlement Cards (NEC) or Young Scot NECs in your area. These come in three types:

  • a photoless NEC (primary school age)
  • an NEC or
  • a Young Scot NEC (secondary school age).

My child is 16 (or older) and needs help to apply. Can a parent or guardian, do this on their behalf?

You should contact your local council if you need additional support with the application process.

I don’t read English. How do I apply for free bus travel for my child?

Please contact your local council to find out more and get support.

Should I get a Young Scot NEC or standard NEC?

If you are over 11 years old you can choose to apply for the Young Scot NEC or a standard NEC. If you choose a Young Scot NEC, you can use it to save money with in-person and online discounts – with over 500 discounts in Scotland and over 100,000 deals across Europe. It also acts as proof of age. What’s more, you can collect points by taking part in activities and exchanging these for Rewards. Find out more at young.scot/card.

Is GETYOURNEC.SCOT new?

No, GETYOURNEC.SCOT has been available since July 2020. Thousands of people have already used it to apply for their NEC to access the Older and Disabled Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme or order a new or replacement Young Scot NEC. This has now been extended to enable people to apply online for the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme.

Why do you use biometric scans during the online application process?

GETYOURNEC.SCOT checks proofs digitally during the application process. A face scan is used to make sure that the person submitting the application is the same person as on the identity proofs supplied. It’s a way of replicating the in-person application process. Biometric scans are only used when applying online, not when making in-person applications.

Can I save progress on my online application as I go along?

Currently, it’s not possible to save an online application as you go along. We are looking at how we can introduce this for online applications in future in a way that continues to keep the process safe and secure and complies with identity verification standards and protocols.

Can you make the application process simpler?

We continually review the application process to make it as straightforward as we can. However, we must also make sure that we meet child safety requirements, and comply with identity verification standards, protocols and PASS standards.

We have made video guides to GETYOURNEC.SCOT which take you through the online application process step-by-step.

You can also ask for help if you run into problems when applying through GETYOURNEC.SCOT.

I can’t apply online, how do I get a card?

If you cannot apply online, there are other ways to apply provided by your local council, such as face-to-face, in-person applications or, in some cases, through schools. Please contact your local council for more information.

I don’t have a passport or driving licence. How do I apply?

If you don’t have proofs such as a passport or driving licence, you can apply directly to your local council.

There are other documents you can use as proof of person if you don’t have a passport, driving licence, Yoti account or birth/adoption certificate. A full list of acceptable documents is on the NEC website.

Why do I need a new NEC/Young Scot NEC to get free bus travel?

Your new card will have the free travel entitlement digitally encoded.

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 (in some cases) carer must approve you to travel for free by bus.

Will applications be prioritised based on who needs to make essential journeys?

All applications submitted will be processed and there is no prioritisation of one person’s application over another.

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on staffing levels, some local councils may not be able to always offer in-person applications and applications may take longer to process. Please contact your local council to find out how you can apply before setting off.

Using your card

How do I use my National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC on the bus?

In most cases, you place your card on the card reader machine next to the bus driver. Ask the driver if you have any questions.

What do I do if my National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC is not working?

For information on how to apply for a replacement card go to getyournec.scot. You will need to pay any fares until the replacement arrives.

How much will it cost to get a replacement card?

Replacements are free of charge.

My friend has lost their National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC. Can they use mine?

No. It is only for you and you should not share it with anybody else.

If your card has a photo, then please keep it up to date, as the bus driver might not let you travel if you do not look like your photo. The photo on your Young Scot NEC also needs to be kept up to date to use it to prove your age for age restricted products or services.

You can update the photo for free.

Can my access to free bus travel be stopped?

Yes, if you misuse the free bus travel scheme (such as letting someone else use your card), then you might have free bus travel removed from your card.

Can I load my National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC on an app rather than carrying the card?

No, you must have your NEC or Young Scot NEC with you if you want to travel for free.

Where can I go under the free bus travel scheme?

You can travel Scotland wide on local and long distance bus services, apart from a few exceptions such as premium-fare night buses, city sightseeing buses, and some airport transfer services. Check with your bus operator if in doubt.

If you are travelling to England, you will be able to travel to Carlisle or Berwick-Upon-Tweed, but it cannot be used to travel within these towns.

Does my National Entitlement Card (NEC) allow me discounts or free travel on rail, tram, subway or ferry?

The free travel scheme is for bus only. However, there may be other discounts available.

More information on concessionary travel

Do children need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to access free bus travel?

No. However, if you are in any doubt check with the bus operator before travelling. All bus operators have conditions of carriage which set out who can travel on their services and they may require younger children to be accompanied.

What are the terms and conditions for my National Entitlement Card (NEC)/Young Scot NEC?

You must ensure that your card is in good condition and presented to the bus ticket machine or other transport ticketing equipment in good working order (e.g. it’s not damaged).

Full terms and conditions

Staying safe

What measures are being taken to support children to travel safely?

We are undertaking an awareness campaign with partners to support children, young people, parents and guardians, and bus operators.

We have been working closely with Barnardo’s Scotland on how to safeguard young people travelling on the bus network, including providing training material for bus drivers. This will help drivers to recognise and respond to children or young people who need support while travelling on the bus network and help ensure that they can travel safely.

More information on staying safe

Transport Scot Pass Collect app

I’ve already applied for a new NEC or Young Scot NEC but it hasn’t arrived yet. Can I use the app?

If you’ve already applied for a new card, depending on where you are in the application process, you may be able to download free bus travel onto your current card so you can use it until your new card is issued.

However this will only work temporarily until your application is processed. This is because when your new card is issued, your old card will automatically be set to stop working. You can then recycle or dispose of your old card.

If you’ve applied for a new card and your application has now been processed but you’ve not received it yet (for example, it is in the post), then you may not have free bus travel available to download via the app. But don’t worry – this means your new card is coming.

If you have applied on getyourNEC.scot, you can log back in to check the status of your application.

What if my application for a new card has been approved and a new card is sent to me, after I have already used the app to get free bus on my existing card - will both work?

When your new card is issued, your old card will automatically be set to stop working and you can recycle or dispose of it.

If you would like to recycle your old card, you can send it to:

Transport Scotland Card Recycling
Buchanan House
58 Port Dundas Road
Glasgow
G4 0HF

Why can’t there be an app instead of a card we can use on the bus – it would be much easier?

We recognise that there is an interest in an app based travel solution. Unfortunately, the compatible technology is not yet available to provide an app for concessionary travel, but we continue to monitor technology advancements in this area.

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.

I am turning 16 next week/soon – can I use the app?

Yes, the system will be updated regularly so that free travel will be available to collect on your 16th birthday. Remember that this only applies if your existing application has not been processed.

Can I use someone else’s card to collect my free bus travel?

No – your card is unique to you. To download your free bus travel you must use your own card.

Can I use someone else’s Transport Scot Pass Collect app to download my free bus travel?

Yes – the app will check your card with the details held on the system and will download the free bus travel for you, via anyone’s Transport Scot Pass Collect app.

Can my friend/child download their free bus travel using my phone?

Yes. The app will check their card details with the system and download the bus travel for them. You can only download the free bus travel for the intended person onto their card – you cannot download it onto your card, for example.

I couldn’t download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store. What should I do?

Check your smart phone is connected to the internet with good signal and you have space on your mobile device to download the app.

If you still cannot download the app your phone may not be compatible – it needs to be Android (version 6 or newer) or iOS (version 6 or newer) and have Near Field Communication (NFC) compatibility - the same function you use for contactless payment with your phone.

If you still don’t have access to the app, you can use someone else’s Transport Scot Pass Collect app to download free bus travel onto your card.

What if I have other tickets or money already loaded on my NEC or Young Scot NEC card?

The app will ignore these and download free bus travel onto the card as well.

In the unlikely event that your card is full (for example, you have lots of other travel products/entitlements already stored on your card) the app will tell you and you may need to remove some of the old tickets to free up space. You can do this by presenting your card to the relevant operators’ ticket or gate machine and it will clear them for you automatically, freeing up room for your bus pass.

Is any personal data held on the app?

How much data space does it take?

The app doesn’t take up too much space or take long to download. It’s around 100mb on Android and only 30mb on Apple - but you do need a good signal to download it (3G + or stronger).