Transport Scotland launches free bus travel app for young people aged between 5 and 21

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. Transport Scotland free bus travel app 

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.


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.

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.

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. Briefly, ‘out of date passports’ can be used to support an application and proof of residency documents may be dated within the last 12 months.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 Transport Scotland free bus travel app 

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.

One proof of specific relevance to asylum seekers and refugees is the Application Registration Card (ARC), issued by the Home Office. This can be used when applying for a NEC in person as it can be used in conjunction with other information or evidence available to a council, a school or a Local Authority. It will enable officials to vouch for an applicant or a parent acting on their behalf by considering other information not available to the online application process.

The ARC is not accepted 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.

The Scottish Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth, said: “I am delighted that, from today, thanks to the Scottish government, every young person under 22 in Scotland with an entitlement card can now travel for free by bus across Scotland. Extending free bus travel will make public transport more affordable and help to give many young people wider access to more education, leisure and work opportunities. It will also support the choice to travel sustainably early in their lives.”

“Increasing bus use will help us to achieve our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20 per cent by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045. It will also support local bus services to recover, as we all emerge from the most recent COVID-19 restrictions. Please remember that, to keep people safe, face coverings are still required on public transport for those aged 12 or older, unless otherwise exempt,” she added. Transport Scotland free bus travel app 


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