Free Bus Travel Scotland | Who is Entitled to Free Bus Travel in Scotland?

Free Bus Travel Scotland | Who is Entitled to Free Bus Travel in Scotland?

All young people and children aged 5-21 years can apply for a card from 10 January to access the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scotland Scheme from 31 January. But currently, the Scottish Government is encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible – until the situation with the pandemic improves.

So the government is asking that only those with an essential need to travel by bus apply at this time. That might be for work, education, health or care reasons, for example. The Scotland government have decided to pause the high profile marketing campaign which will be launched nationally at a later date.

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.

Who is Entitled to a Free Bus Pass

Free Bus Travel Scotland | Who is Entitled to Free Bus Travel in Scotland?

If you live in Scotland and are 5-21 years old you are eligible for a card giving you free bus travel from 31 January.

Children under 5 years old already travel for free on buses and don’t need a card. Applications for cards open from 10 January.

However, we are asking you only to apply at this point if you do need to make essential journeys by bus.

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 to Get Free Bus Travel Scotland

You can either apply online at GETYOURNEC.SCOT or (if your child’s school uses it) on 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 or guardian must apply on behalf of 5–15 year old’s 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, please .

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.

Your responsibilities


  • Given the pandemic, we are asking that you only apply for a card at this point if you or your child are making essential journeys by bus
  • 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

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.

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