If you are aged between 5 and 21 and you live in Scotland you are eligible for free bus travel.
Those under 5 are not changed so do not need a pass.
But some parents and young people are reporting problems with the application process.
Figures up to March 18, 2022 show fewer than a third who are eligible across the north and north east have been issued with a pass.
Here’s everything you need to know about the free bus travel scheme, and how to apply.
Why is this happening?
The Climate Change Act 2019 commits Scotland to net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045.
The free bus travel scheme launched in January 2022 to lower young people’s carbon footprint by encouraging the use of public transport.
The scheme was agreed under an SNP/Green budget deal at Holyrood.
Who can apply for the pass, and what do the passes look like?
If you are a parent of a child aged 5-15, you need to apply for the pass for your child.
If you are aged 16-22, you need to apply by yourself.
You need to apply for a National Entitlement Card (NEC) to take advantage of the scheme.
Or, you can use a Young Scot NEC card if you are aged 11 or over.
Where do I apply?
You can apply online through the central government service at GetYourNEC.Scot or through your local council.
Before you start the application process, try to have these to hand…
You may need some or all of the following:
- Device with a camera or webcam (laptop/tablet/phone)
- Passport for parent and child
- Birth Certificate for parent and child
- Recent digital image of the child (if aged 11+)
Already have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC card?
If 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.
Click here for instructions on how to get the app. You must be 16 or over.
Here are the links to apply with your local council:
All councils have application routes available but they differ from area to area.
- Orkney Islands Council
- Argyll and Bute Council
- Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
- Aberdeen City Council
- Aberdeenshire Council
- Moray Council
- Highland Council
- Shetland Islands Council
Will it cost me anything to apply?
Just your time. You need to get all your ID documents to hand and make sure the photograph required for the card is suitable.
How long will it take to process?
Cards generally arrive in the post within 10 working days.
However, if you apply with a paper-based, offline application, it could take longer.
Aberdeenshire Council for example says it “may take several weeks” before a card gets in your hands if you apply using a paper-based process.
Here is a video for parents who want to apply for free bus travel on behalf of their child aged 5-15.