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How to get a Zip Card – Free travel for Children in London

March 6, 2020

Here’ s how to get a 5-10 Zip Card, which means children over five can travel for free in London

Want to know how children can travel for free in London? Easy – apply for a 5-10 Zip Oyster card. Here’s how.

How to get a Zip Card – free travel from 5-10 in London

It seems like yesterday that I was writing a post on how to get a baby on board badge, and giving advice on how to use London’s public transport with a pram. now the babies are all grown up *sob*. Well, not quite…

(Look at them though! Tiny!)

Bugaboo Bee 5 buggy in London

However, while babies and children under five can travel for free across London transport, did you know that as soon as your child hits five you need to pay for them travel on some modes of transport in London – or apply for a travel card?

A lot of people we know didn’t! We do – we don’t drive, so we use public transport a lot. But it’s worth having a London kid’s railcard if you live in or near London, or travel in an out a lot (lots of people we know would never drive into central London, for example).

And as the mum of two tall girls, I can confirm that their ages will be checked in London train stations on train services in to London. And inevitably, children will tell the truth when asked!

Tips for stress-free travel by train with small children - take snacks

So..what do you need to do?

Apply for a 5-10 Zip Oyster Card.

If you apply for a 5-10 Oyster Card for your child, it means between the ages of 5-10 they can travel for free throughout London.

It also means they can tap in and out of the Oyster barriers in stations, which a) makes travelling around a lot easier and b) is lots of fun.

For older children there is also the 11-15 Zip Oyster Card, and the 16+ Zip Oyster Card, although we’re a while off that (don’t tell me it will come round really quickly!)

Where does the Zip Oyster card enable children to travel for free?

How to get a zip card - 5-11 oyster for kids, free London travel for children
  • On the Tube
  • The DLR
  • London Overground
  • TFL Rail Services and National Rail Services inside the London transport zones that accept touch and go payment (this is the big one for us, as we are in zone five use these trains to get in and out of central London).
  • It also gives you a discount on the Clipper boat services and the Emirates Air Line.

Where can children travel for free in London without a card?

  • You don’t need one for buses or trams
  • You also don’t need one for when children are travelling accompanied by adults on the Tube, DLR, London Overground and TFL Rail.

How to apply for Your Child’s Travel Card

how to get a zip travel card - free London travel for children
  • Take a digital, passport-style head shot of your child (the guidelines aren’t as strict as for passport photos though, it just needs to be a reasonable likeness)
  • Parents need to set up an online account with TFL here.
  • You’ll need to pay a one-off admin fee of £15 per card.
  • Via the account, you can apply for the 5-10 card. Once you’ve applied, as long as your application is approved it should arrive in about a week.

More questions you might have about applying:

How much does a Zip Oyster Card cost?

  • You pay a one-off payment of a £15 admin fee, then that’s it.

What happens if my child loses their Zip card?

  • You can apply for a replacement Zip card using your online TFL account, and they should send a new one out.

How long does a Zip card last?

  • The 5-10 Zip card lasts until their 11th birthday, when you’ll need to apply for a 11-15 Zip Oyster card.

What happens if I forget my child’s Zip card when travelling in London?

  • It depends! Occasionally they will let you through the barriers. Or you might need to pay for a child’s ticket.

The best places for children to go in London with your Zip card

Once your child has a Zip card, go to one of these brilliant places in London

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram for more of our London-based adventures…also read my post on how to talk to children about coronavirus

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