Concessionary travel for people aged 60+ or with a disability
The National Entitlement Card allows people aged 60+ and people with a disability to travel for free on local or Scottish long distance buses.
Contact your Local Authority or Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) to apply for your National Entitlement Card.
You will need:
- A completed application form
- A recent photograph
- Proof of age or disability
- Proof of your current address
Depending on where you live, you can collect an application form from your Local Authority or SPT travel centre.
To understand what you’re entitled to please also see the terms and conditions.
Get Your Replacement Card
Update Your Contact Address
Before the 31st December 2016, all concessionary free bus travel card needs to be replaced.
Over the next two years a programme is planned to roll out replacement cards to all cardholders. You will automatically receive your replacement card ahead of this date with no interruption to your access to free bus travel.
To ensure you successfully receive your replacement card, it is important that you keep your local authority updated with your contact address. Any change of address between now and then should be provided to your local authority concessionary travel department.
To update your contact address or any other personal information you should contact your local authority.
With the introduction of this new card type it is our intention to remove the expiry date from cards issued on the grounds of age. For cardholders aged 60 and over this will be a card for life.
Cards issued on the grounds of disability will continue to have an expiry date, therefore, cardholders will be required to provide current documentary evidence confirming that they meet the eligibility criteria when applying for a replacement card.
If your card is lost, stolen or damaged you should contact your local authority to request a replacement. This applies to every cardholder whether your card is issued on the grounds of age or disability.
If you move to another local authority area you must inform your previous local authority as soon as possible. A replacement branded card from your new local authority area will allow you to access local concessionary travel schemes where available.
- You receive the higher rate of the mobility component or the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, you receive Attendance Allowance or you receive Personal Independence Payment. Take along a letter confirming your eligibility.
- You are a Blue Badge holder. Take your Blue Badge, latest V11 vehicle licensing reminder from DVLA or DLA404 from the Department of Work and Pensions when you apply for your card.
- You are profoundly or severely deaf. Take along a letter from your Audiologist, Hospital Consultant or Registered Society for the Deaf when you apply. The letter must show that you have bilateral hearing loss greater than or equal to 70dBHLs averaged over 1, 2 and 4KHz. If you have been deaf since birth, a letter from your GP is fine too.
- You have a visual impairment. Bring your registration certificate that confirms you are blind or partially sighted when you apply for your card. A letter from the RNIB or other registered society is also acceptable.
- You have been told not to drive based on medical grounds. Take the DVLA confirmation letter as evidence when you apply. If you have epilepsy the NCT003 certificate is acceptable too. The NCT003 certificate is only valid where the applicant is 16yrs and over (the earliest date they can apply for a provisional licence). Collect the certificate from your Local Authority and ask your Hospital Consultant, GP or Epilepsy Specialist Nurse to sign.
- You have a mental illness, learning difficulty or personality disorder that is recognised under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and has lasted for more than a year. You must need to travel to health or social care appointments as part of treatment activities, care or a rehabilitation programme. Your ability to travel must also be impaired. Please contact your Local Authority for advice on how and where to apply.
- You have a terminal illness. Take your award notice that shows you receive higher or middle rate of Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance when you apply. A DS1500 report, hospice admittance letter or confirmation that you are registered on a Scottish hospice register is also acceptable.
- You have a progressive degenerative condition. Conditions such as Parkinson's Disease that impede your mobility entitle you to free bus travel. Ask your hospital consultant to provide a letter confirming that your condition is considered ‘progressive degenerative' and that it severely impedes your mobility and ability to carry out day to day activities . This wording should appear on any documentary evidence.
- You have lost one or more limbs. If you have lost one or both legs, both arms or an arm and a leg you are entitled to free bus travel. Request a letter from your prosthetic clinic/centre, physiotherapist or rehabilitation centre for your application.
- You are an injured veteran with mobility problems. You will qualify if you have received a lump sum benefit under the Armed Forces and Compensation Scheme within tariff levels 1 - 8 (inclusive) and the Secretary of State certifies that you have a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking. You will need to produce a certification letter from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. You will also qualify under the same criteria if your injuries do not hinder your mobility but the injury can be cross referenced to the descriptors within the AFCS Injuries Table as detailed.
- If you receive a War Pensioner Mobility Supplement you are also eligible. Please provide a letter from the Veterans Agency or Ministry of Defence in your application.
If you Receive Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Living Allowance under the higher rate of mobility or higher/middle rate of care, live in a care or residential home or hospital, or are a blue badge holder you'll need a letter to confirm your eligibility.
For details on getting your letter, please contact the Disability benefits helpline.
As well as Scotland-wide free bus travel, visually impaired cardholders are also eligible for free train, Edinburgh tram travel and concessions are available on ferry travel.
Your National Entitlement card gives free bus travel but, if you are registered blind or have a visual impairment, you're also entitled to use your card to access concessions on train, Edinburgh tram and ferry travel within Scotland too.
If you have the eye symbol on your National Entitlement card you're entitled to free Standard Class rail travel across Scotland and for journeys to and from Berwick-upon-Tweed and Carlisle as well as free Edinburgh tram travel and concessions on ferry journeys throughout Scotland. Please contact the service operator for further information.
Check your eligibility
To get a National Entitlement Card you must be:
Aged 60+ and,
- Resident in Scotland
Apply for your card through your Local Authority or SPT travel centre.
Use your National Entitlement Card to get a ticket in advance or on the bus. Advance tickets must be collected in person.
When you get on the bus you'll notice an electronic ticket machine. Place your card on the machine with your photograph facing up and tell the driver your stop. The driver will help if you need assistance.
If there isn't a ticket machine like this, show your card and tell the driver your stop.
Remember you can only use your most recently issued National Entitlement Card on the bus. Any other cards will not work and you will not be allowed free bus travel. See our campaign poster (PDF, 340 KB) for more information on this.
If you need a companion to help you use public transport your National Entitlement Card will allow them to travel for free too.
Travelling with a companion can make things much easier. Helping you on and off the bus, carrying shopping or communicating with the driver helps maintain the freedom you get with the National Entitlement Card.
If you have this symbol on your card, you're entitled to have a companion travel with you, on the same journey, for free. Your companion and journey can vary, but your companion can only travel for free when they are with you. You are not obliged to travel with a companion, but the entitlement is there for when you need it.
Your companion is entitled to travel for free if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You live in a care/residential home or hospital and are eligible for the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance
- You receive the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
- You receive the standard or enhanced rate of daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
- You receive Attendance Allowance
- You are registered blind
- You receive war pensions constant attendance allowance.
If you receive Attendance Allowance, the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance under the higher/middle rate of care or live in a care or residential home or hospital, you'll need a letter to confirm your eligibility. For details on getting your letter, please contact the Disability benefits helpline.
If you are registered blind, please provide a copy of your blind registration certificate.
When you apply for your National Entitlement Card please also bring evidence of your need to travel with a companion. That may be an award notice letter from the Department of Work and Pensions or a copy of your blind registration certificate.
Can I apply online?
Application forms include an individual bar code and place to attach your photograph so are not currently available online. Find your local contact for application forms and all other enquiries
Where can I travel?
Your new National Entitlement Card gives you free travel throughout Scotland on virtually all local registered and long distance scheduled bus services available to the general public. There are only a small number of services on which your National Entitlement Card cannot be used, for example premium fare night buses and City Sightseeing Buses.
Can I use my card on the train?
Some local authorities have joined with rail companies to offer their over 60 and disabled residents free or discounted train travel as well as the standard free bus travel. Contact your Local Authority directly for more information
What if my card doesn’t work on the bus?
If the electronic ticket machine did not recognise your card it may have expired or be damaged.
If this is the case, please contact your Local Authority immediately to arrange a new card. The card will be despatched as soon as possible and should be received within 7 days.
If the card is valid but does not work on the machine, the driver will give you the option to pay the full fare and keep your card or hand over your card in exchange for a seven day temporary pass. The temporary pass will be valid for free travel for you but the companion element will not be available. You should then contact your Local Authority immediately to request a new card. The card will be despatched as soon as possible and should be received within 7 days.
Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed travel
Your National Entitlement Card is valid on services to and from Carlisle and on services to and from Berwick-upon-Tweed from anywhere in Scotland. Please note that your Entitlement Card is not valid for travel within these towns.
It is possible to book in advance with your National Entitlement Card but you may incur a booking fee. Some bus operators may waive the fee, check before you book.
Using the card
You are the only person that is allowed to use your card. Your card will be withdrawn if you allow anyone else to use it.
Travel using a National Entitlement Card 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.
Contact your Local Authority or Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) Travel Card Unit if:
- Your National Entitlement Card is lost, stolen or damaged
- The card did not work when you used the ticket machine
- You want to change your name, address or photo
Your National Entitlement Card may have an expiry date on the front. If you're 60 or over, your new card won’t have an expiry date on it and is valid for life, providing you continue to live in Scotland. If you have a NEC on grounds of disability, your card will have an expiry date - your Local Authority or SPT may be in touch 4-6 weeks before the card runs out. If you don't hear from them, or need assistance renewing your card, contact them directly:
Injuries that automatically meet the disability criteria for the National Bus Travel Concession Scheme for Older and Disabled Persons (Eligible Persons and Eligible Services) (Scotland) Order 2006.
|1||Loss of both legs (above or below knee) and both arms (above or below elbow).|
|1||Loss of both eyes or sight in both eyes and loss of either both legs (above or below knee), or both arms (above or below elbow).|
|1||Total deafness and loss of either both legs or both arms.|
|2||Loss of both legs above knee (hip disarticulation or hemipelvectomy).|
|2||Loss of both arms above elbow (shoulder disarticulation or forequarter).|
|2||Loss of both legs above or below knee (not hip disarticulation or hemipelvectomy) and one arm (above or below elbow).|
|2||Loss of both arms above or below elbow (not shoulder disarticulation or forequarter) and one leg (above or below knee).|
|2||Loss of one arm, above or below elbow, and one leg, above or below knee, with total loss of use of another limb due to traumatic injury involving vital structures. *|
|3||Loss of both legs at or above knee (trans-femoral or knee disarticulation).|
|3||Loss of both arms at or above elbow (trans-humeral or elbow disarticulation).|
|3||Loss of one leg above knee (hip disarticulation or hemipelvectomy).|
|4||Loss of both legs below knee (trans-tibial).|
|4||Loss of both arms below elbow (trans-radial)|
|4||Loss of both hands (wrist disarticulation) or where amputation distal to that site has led to permanent total loss of use of both hands.|
|5||Loss of both feet at ankle or where amputation distal to that site has led to permanent total loss of use of both feet.|
|5||Loss of one leg at or above knee (trans-femoral or knee disarticulation).|
|1||Spinal cord injury, at or above vertebra C3.|
|1||Brain injury with persistent vegetative state. (a)|
|1||Brain injury where epilepsy is present (or where there is high risk of epilepsy) and the claimant has reflex activity but has little or no meaningful response to the environment, no language, double incontinence and requires full-time skilled nursing care. (b)|
|2||Brain injury where epilepsy is present (or where there is a high risk of epilepsy) and full-time skilled nursing care is required, and the claimant has two of the following: reflex activity but little or no meaningful response to the environment, no language or double incontinence. (ab)|
|2||Spinal cord injury at vertebra C4, C5 or C6.|
|3||Brain injury where epilepsy is present (or where there is a high risk of epilepsy) where the claimant has limited response to environment; substantial physical and sensory problems; one or more of cognitive, personality or behavioural problems and requires regular skilled nursing care. (c)|
|4||Spinal cord injury at vertebra T2 to T6.|
|4||Uncontrolled post head injury epilepsy.|
|5||Spinal cord injury at vertebra T7 to T10.|
|6||Spinal cord injury at vertebra T11 to L1.|
|7||Spinal cord injury at vertebra below L1.|
|1||Total deafness and loss of both eyes, or total deafness and total blindness in both eyes, or total deafness and loss of one eye and total blindness in the other eye.|
|2||Loss of eyes.|
|2||Total blindness in both eyes.|
|2||Loss of one eye and total blindness in the other eye.|
|5||Loss of one eye and permanent damage to the other eye, where visual acuity is correctable to 6/36.|
|6||Total deafness in both ears.|
|6||Severe binocular visual field loss|
|8||Bilateral permanent hearing loss of more than 75dB averaged over 1, 2 and 3 kHz, with severe persistent tinnitus.|
Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands, announced on 23 January 2015 that Transport Scotland and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) have agreed terms setting budgets and reimbursement rates to operators under the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People for a further two years.
Building on a two year agreement reached in January 2013, the new agreement ensures bus operators continue to be fairly reimbursed for carrying passengers under the scheme and safeguards free bus travel for those over sixty and eligible disabled people living in Scotland.
Similar to the 2013 agreement, changes are required to the legislation underpinning the scheme. Amended legislation detailing changes to the budget and reimbursement rates to operators will come into force on 1 April 2015.
In 2004, agreement was reached between the Scottish Executive and the Confederation of Passenger Transport committing bus operators in Scotland to an unrestricted scheme providing free bus travel for people living in Scotland aged sixty and over and eligible disabled people.
A public consultation exercise on the proposed legislation for the scheme followed in 2005 asking questions on the proposed eligibility criteria and technical aspects of the scheme.
As a result of the consultation process and discussions with stakeholders, two Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSI) underpinning the terms of the scheme were prepared by the Scottish Executive and subsequently approved by the Scottish Parliament. They came into force from 1 April 2006.
The scheme provides free travel on local and long distance registered bus service throughout Scotland at any time of day for any number of journeys for those aged sixty and over and eligible disabled people who live in Scotland.
Free bus travel is available to eligible people who have applied for and hold a valid National Entitlement Card.
Free travel for a companion of disabled card holders who need assistance when travelling. See companion card eligibility.
Cardholders living in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles receive two free return ferry journeys each year to the Scottish mainland.
Over 1.2 million cardholders currently benefit from the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People. They made over 145m passenger journeys on local buses in Scotland in 2012-13.
The average benefit per cardholder is around £250 per year.
The key objectives of the older and disabled national concessionary fares policy are to:
Allow older and disabled people (especially those on low incomes) improved access to services, facilities and social networks by 'free' scheduled bus services; and so promote social inclusion
To improve health by promoting a more active lifestyle for the elderly and disabled
To remove the restrictions of the previous local off-peak concessionary fare scheme which produced differences in access to facilities in different areas of Scotland
Promote modal shift from private car to public transport
Maintain a no better; no worse off position for bus operators with standard reimbursement rate
Provide opportunity for improvements to public transport (e.g. assist development of multi-operator ticketing; use of improved Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM) technology)
Facilitate a more effective administration of the system with adoption of standard reimbursement rate and shift of operational responsibility from local authorities to Transport Scotland
Provide a stimulus to the introduction of SMARTCARD
Adjustments were made to the scheme on 1 April 2011 to make it easier for seriously injured HM forces personnel and veterans to apply for a bus pass.
Those in receipt of certain awards under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) could have their application fast tracked by providing their AFCS award letter on application. Further details are provided in our Guidance.
As part of the UK Government’s welfare benefit reforms Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment. Receipt of certain components and rates of Disability Living Allowance are included in the eligibility criteria for the concessionary travel scheme.
To mitigate the effects of these reforms and ensure that eligible disabled people will continue to have access to the scheme, the Scottish Government extended the scheme’s eligibility criteria to include recipients of Personal Independence Payment. The changes to the eligibility criteria are set out in legislation which came into force on 8 April 2013 and are described below:-.
The extension of the eligibility criteria to include Personal Independence Payment will maintain access to concessionary travel for eligible disabled people in Scotland.
All recipients of Personal Independence Payment (or PIP) will be eligible for concessionary travel and all recipients of the Daily Living component of PIP will be eligible to receive a companion card (enabling a companion to travel free with them).
If when reassessed for PIP you find you are not eligible for that benefit, you will be able to continue using your concessionary travel card until its expiry date.
Our Guidance continues to highlight alternative criteria through which people might be eligible for concessionary travel.
Following an Audit Scotland review in 2010, Transport Scotland commissioned research in 2012 to gather feedback and develop an understanding of the views of older and disabled people who are eligible and have applied to access the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel scheme.
The research project, by Research Resource and ODS Consulting, took place over two years (2013-2014), with telephone surveys of over 3,000 representative National Entitlement Card (NEC) holders in each year to collect feedback on their use and perception of the scheme as well as on its administration. A series of Focus Groups were also held.
Card holders were asked about their use of the NEC in their daily travel, the value they placed on the Card, their views on misuse or abuse of the scheme, and the difference that the scheme made to their lives. The findings are being used to inform and improve the scheme.
In 2014, 99% respondents stated that they were either very or fairly satisfied with the scheme overall. Satisfaction with bus travel generally was also high with over 9 in 10 respondents (93%) expressing satisfaction when travelling by bus.
There was also evidence that the Scheme is encouraging modal shift, with 41% stating that they use the car less. It is also encouraging some cardholders to walk more to and from bus stops.
48% of respondents said they now make journeys that they would not previously have made.
For respondents with a Disabled or Visual Impairment card, the provision of independence was a key benefit. Younger participants in particular, felt that having the card gave them the opportunity to get out and about without relying on parents or carers for support.
The research confirms the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel Scheme is greatly valued and works well for card holders for a number of reasons including financial savings, reducing isolation, engendering a sense of greater independence and increasing confidence in their own ability to travel.
The research highlights how cardholders perceive the scheme as having improved their mental and physical well-being.
For further information on current concessionary travel policy contact:
Bus and Local Transport Policy Team
Tel:-0131 244 0857