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OV-chip card (Public transport card)

The public transport system in the Netherlands is excellent. Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland have extensive bus networks and train transport. The region is divided into zones. The fare you pay depends on the distance covered.

For all public transport travel information in the Netherlands, visit the Journey Planner or call 0900 9292.

The OV-Chip card is the relatively new means of payment for the public transport system in the Netherlands and can be used in trams, trains, busses or metros. It is the size of a bankcard and contains an invisible chip.

There are two types of OV-Chip cards available: a personal registered chip card and an anonymous (anoniem) chip card. Both initially cost €7.50, and you can then load and reload the chip with credit as required and use to travel anywhere in the Netherlands, as long as there is enough credit to cover the length of travel distance.

The anonymous OV-chipkaart is a good choice if you do not travel often. This card is transferable and can be used by more than one person, though never at the same time. When traveling with more than one person, every person needs an OV chip card. When an anonymous card is lost or stolen, it cannot be blocked. You can buy this card at service desks, and various locations, including grocery stores. You can upload the credit at the yellow ticket machines with the pink OV chip card logo.

The personal OV-chipkaart is registered to one person. It is like a personal ID card and has your photo and personal information on it. It can only be purchased online. You can also purchase special offers for this card, such as 40%-off  the ticket price during non-peak hours, which is automatically calculated for the amount needed for the travel distance. When this type of OV-chipkaart is lost or has been stolen, it can be blocked within 24 hours.

You will need to use your card to check in and to check out of all forms of public transport. The charged fare is based on the distance traveled. In general, it is cheaper to travel with an OV chip card, if you use it correctly.

There are three steps are important when traveling using the OV-chipkaart:

Step 1: Top up your OV-chipkaart

The balance on an OV-chipkaart needs to be topped up before it can be used to pay for public transport travel. You can top up your balance at vending machines, selected service desks or buy credit or activate automatic reloading online via the web shop . An automatic amount of 10 euro is reserved on the card for train travel and 4 euros for bus travel. You cannot travel if the balance is below this amount.

You can find locations to load your card near you here.

Step 2: Check in when boarding

Check-in as follows:

  • Hold the OV-chipkaart in front of the OV-chipkaart logo on the smart card reader.
  • You will hear a beep and the green indicator will light up.
  • If you check in at an access gate, the gate will open.

If you are traveling with children and you are passing through access gates, the children will have to pass through the gates one by one. Make sure you do not hold the card in front of the reader twice because you will not only be checking in but also checking out. If an inspector checks the tickets and you are not checked in you will be fined.

Your OV-chipkaart is checked when you check in. If your card includes a valid travel product, it is used for the journey. If not, you will pay for the journey with the balance on the OV-chipkaart. The boarding rate will be temporarily deducted from the OV-chipkaart balance and the actual journey costs are settled against this boarding rate when you exit.

Step 3: Check out when exiting

At your destination you need to check out following the same procedure as you did to check in.