When travelling by public transport in Holland, you can use the so-called OV chip card. This is a kind of credit card used to pay for bus, tram, train and metro. You can buy it at stations, kiosks and many supermarkets. Since there is no separate card for tourists, it is best to use an ‘anonymous’ OV chip card.
- Buy an ‘anonymous OV-chipkaart' at a point of sale at the stations or in tobacco shops
- The anonymous OV-chipkaart costs 7.50 euros and remains valid for five years.
- When traveling by train, make sure you have at least 20 euros worth of credit on your anonymous OV-chipkaart.
- Read more about travelling with an anonymous OV-chipkaart in Dutch public transport.
Dutch public transport requires a so-called OV-chipkaart, a smart card that can be used for bus, tram, train and metro services. Since there is no specific OV-chipkaart for tourists, we recommend using either a single-use chipcard or an ‘anonymous OV-chipkaart’. The single-use chipcard has limited validity and can be used to travel on bus/tram/metro lines in a single city. If you want to travel by train, you can buy a different single-use chipcard that is valid on the train for your specified itinerary only. If you are staying in Holland for more than a few days and plan to travel by public transport more frequently, we recommend the anonymous OV-chipkaart as the best and most economic ticket for your trips since it can be used for all public means of transport in Holland.
Buying a chipcard
You can buy single-use chipcards or an anonymous OV-chipkaart at public transport service desks, from ticket vending machines in stations, at tobacco shops (such as Primera), and in several supermarkets. OV-chipkaart points of sale carry the pink OV-chipkaart logo.
Charging credit to your anonymous OV-chipkaart
An anonymous OV-chipkaart costs 7.50 euros but comes without travel credit. You can charge credit to the anonymous OV-chipkaart at a service desk or a ticket vending machine at many stations. Please note that methods of payment may vary! Once charged, you can use the anonymous OV-chipkaart directly for your bus, tram and metro trips. It is not, however, suitable for use on the train yet!
Using an anonymous OV-chipkaart on the train
If you want to travel by train, you first have to activate your anonymous OV-chipkaart for railway travel at an NS ticket vending machine. Another important thing is to have at least 20 euros worth of credit on your anonymous OV-chipkaart when you plan to travel by train (not required for bus, tram or metro).
If you do not have an anonymous OV-chipkaart, you can also buy single-use chipcards from NS ticket vending machines or service desks, for instance for a one-way, return or day ticket. Please note that a single-use chipcard from an NS service desk costs 1 euro extra.
Credit card payment possible!
You can charge credit to your anonymous OV-chipkaart at a public transport service desk or a ticket vending machine at many stations. Methods of payment vary per machines but you can generally use your credit card or your PIN-pas (debit card), and in some cases cash.
Check in and out
When boarding a bus, tram, metro or train, hold your single-use chipcard or anonymous OV-chipkaart in front of the ticket reader. The green light and beep signal indicate that your card has been read. When you get off, hold your card in front of the ticket reader once again to check out. The display shows the credit used and how much credit is left on the card. Please don’t forget to check out since the meter will keep running if you don’t!
Validity and credit
Your anonymous OV-chipkaart remains valid for five years. On virtually every anonymous OV-chipkaart, the expiration date is printed on the card. You can save your anonymous OV-chipkaart until you return to Holland. Any credit on the card will remain valid as well.
If you want to claim the credit remaining on the card (and there is less than 30 euros worth of credit on the card), you can go to a public transport service desk. There is a 2.50 euro administration fee. If you want to terminate the anonymous OV-chipkaart, request a form at one of the public transport service desks. Fill out the form, enclose the anonymous OV-chipkaart in the envelope and send your form and card to the address specified on the form.
Please note that you cannot block the anonymous OV-chipkaart in case of loss or theft, so don’t put too much credit on the card!