Getting a Freedom Pass and other travel concessions for older people

With seemingly ever-increasing price hikes on London’s public transport, a Freedom Pass can be a total gamechanger for older people. But can any older person get a Freedom Pass? The straight forward answer is – no. To get a Freedom Pass you need to meet certain criteria. If your parent isn’t eligible for a Freedom Pass, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. There are lots more UK travel concessions for older people that will help them travel at reduced cost.

A Freedom Pass is only for people over the state pension age (currently 66 years old) who live permanently in London or one of the city’s boroughs. If your parent lives anywhere else in the UK, other than London, they can’t get a Freedom Pass. But, and it’s a but worth knowing about, they may still be able to use a concessionary card from their area to travel free on London transport.

As well as information about Freedom Passes and how to get one, here we share what other UK travel concessions there are for older people plus how and where to apply for them. They’re all big money savers so worth taking advantage of. It’s likely your parent already does, but if not you should get them onboard!

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Tip: If your parent or older relative doesn’t live in London you’ll want to scroll past the Freedom Pass section of this article as they won’t be eligible.

UK travel concessions for older people

Older Person’s Freedom Pass

As previously mentioned, the Older Person’s Freedom Pass is a concessionary travel card for people over state pension age who live in London. It’s issued by London Councils for travel on the Transport for London (TFL) network of services. The TFL services a Freedom Pass is valid on are:

  • The London Underground
  • The London Overground
  • The Elizabeth Line
  • All London Buses
  • The Docklands Light Railway
  • London Trams
  • Local bus routes outside of London where the English National Concessionary Bus Scheme is in operation

Applying for an Older Person’s Freedom Pass

The easiest way to apply for a Freedom Pass is to apply online via the London Councils website. Before you can proceed with the application you will first be asked to check your eligibility by submitting your date of birth.

During the application process you will also be asked to provide proof of your date of birth, your name and your address as well as supply a passport-size colour photograph. You will find a list of acceptable documents to submit to prove your identity on the London Council website Freedom Pass webpage as well as instructions on how to upload them during the application process.

If you don’t want to go through the application online you can download an application form, print it and submit it by post with photocopies of the relevant documents.

How long is an Older Person’s Freedom Pass valid for?

Once issued, a Freedom Pass is valid for a period of five years after which it needs to be renewed. The expiry date is printed quite clearly on the face of the card. To make sure your parent continues to enjoy free travel they should apply to renew their Freedom Pass at least four weeks in advance of the expiry date.

Older Person’s Freedom Pass Travel Restrictions

When  planning a trip out, something to keep in mind is the times you are able to use a Freedom Pass. Unless your parent is a night owl or really early bird the travel time restrictions put in place by TFL in January of 2023 won’t affect them too much. Those restrictions mean that, even with a Freedom Pass, if they travel between 4.30am and 9.00am from Monday to Friday they will need to pay normal fares on whatever TFL service they use. The time restrictions don’t apply on weekends or bank holidays.

What’s the difference between an OP Freedom Pass and a 60+ Oyster Card?

The 60+ Oyster card is a concessionary card issued by London Councils for free travel on the TFL network of services. The same as with an Older Person’s Freedom Pass, you need to live in one of the thirty-three London boroughs to be eligible for one. You also need to be at least sixty years of age, but below state pension age to be able to apply.

The main differences between an Older Person’s Freedom Pass and a 60+ Oyster Card are:

  • Travel is free from 9am onwards from Monday to Friday as well as on weekends and bank holidays
  • With a 60+ Oyster Card you can travel on National Rail services free if they’re within London as well as many National Rail services outside of London for free also
  • You will need to pay a £20 administration fee to obtain the card
  • You will need to provide proof of your London address every year to be able to keep the card and after the initial administration fee, you will also need to pay £10 a year to renew it. If you don’t do either the card will be stopped and you’ll need to reapply
  • A 60+ Oyster Card is not valid for free travel on local bus services outside of London
  • As long as you share your personal details with London Councils you will be automatically transferred to an Older Person’s Freedom Pass when you reach state pension age

Older Person’s Bus Pass

No matter where your parent lives in the UK, they can apply for an Older Person’s Bus Pass when they reach state pension age. If they live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland they’ll be eligible for the bus pass when they’re sixty.

An Older Person’s Bus Pass is issued by the local council in the area where you live permanently. To apply for the pass you will need to follow your council’s online registration process. Once you’ve completed the application you should receive your pass in the mail within four weeks.

An Older Person’s Bus Pass can be used on the majority of bus services throughout the UK including those operating in London. It is not valid for free travel on trains or the underground. Most bus companies restrict free travel with an OPBP on Mondays to Fridays to between 9.30am to 11pm. This may vary in some areas so always double check with your local company or council first. Weekends and bank holidays are restriction free.

Senior Railcard

While a Senior Railcard won’t get your parent free train trips, it will enable them to enjoy hefty discounts. They’ll be eligible to apply for a Senior Railcard when they’re sixty as long as they have a British passport, a UK driving licence or an EEA Identity card.

The Senior Railcard is not issued free of charge. You need to pay a fee for it. A Senior Railcard valid for a year costs £30 and one valid for three years costs £70. You can apply for a Senior Railcard online or purchase one at any train station with a ticket office.

The Senior Railcard will give your parent discounted travel on train journeys throughout the UK whether they’re standard fares, first class or off-peak.

As an added bonus, there are numerous associated businesses who offer generous discounts to Senior Railcard holders. Make use of those offers and your parent could get a 50% discount off theatre tickets or 5% off a weekend away by the sea.

Senior Coachcard

The Senior Coachcard is a travel concession card for the over sixties offered by the nationwide coach company, National Express. It works in a similar way to the Senior Railcard. The card is valid for a year and costs £12.50 plus £2.50 for postage.

To acquire a Senior Coachcard you need to complete the simple application process online, purchase the card from a coach station or alternatively call the Customer Contact Centre on 08717 81 81 81 between 8am and 8pm.

The Senior Coachcard entitles you to:

  • 1/3 off standard and flexible fares even during peak hours
  • 15% off travel to an event
  • £15 day return fares on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to anywhere in the UK

Travel Concessions for health and mobility issues

Taxicard – A Taxicard offers a certain amount of discounted journeys by black cab for people who live in London and have serious health or mobility issues. To qualify for the Taxicard you cannot be a holder of a Freedom Pass or have a Blue Badge.

Blue Badge – A Blue Badge is a parking concession issued to people who have mobility problems to permit them to park in disabled parking spaces or on yellow lines for a period of three hours. Blue Badges can only be obtained via the Gov.uk website or from your local council.

Disabled Person’s Railcard – The Disabled Person’s Railcard is different to a Senior Railcard in that it gives not just you, but also your adult travelling companion or carer a third off train fares. The card costs £20 a year or £54 for three years.

In summary

Your parent really doesn’t need to be a stuck-at-home senior with all of the amazing travel concessions for older people that are available. Encourage them to make the most of the free journeys and discounts that are on offer to go on a day trip somewhere interesting or to visit family..

Common questions

Who is eligible for an Older Person’s Freedom Pass?

To be eligible for an Older Person’s Freedom Pass you need to have reached state pension age and live in London or one of the city boroughs.

What is the difference between a 60+ Oyster card and a Freedom Pass?

A 60+ Oyster card is for people of sixty years or more that haven’t reached state pension age. It gives them free travel on the Transport For London network and many rail services outside of London, but not on bus services outside of the city. There is a £20 administration fee to get the card.

What times can you use an Older Person Freedom Pass?

You can use an Older Person’s Freedom Pass to take free journeys on the TFL network of services from Monday to Friday after 9.00 am or at any time during a weekend or bank holiday. If you travel between 04.30am and 9.00am you will need to pay normal fares unless it’s a weekend or bank holiday

Can you use a bus pass on National Express?

No. An Older Person’s Bus Pass is not valid for use on National Express coach journeys. To get discounted trips on National Express coaches you should apply for a National Express Senior Coachcard.

Terminology toolkit

Older Person’s Freedom Pass – A concessionary travel card that allows free journeys on the TFL network for people of state pension age who live in London.

60+ Oyster Card – A concessionary travel card that permits free travel on the TFL network for people over sixty who live in London.

Senior Railcard – A concessionary travel card that permits discounted travel on the national rail network.

Older Person’s Bus Pass – A concessionary travel card that permits seniors of state pension age free travel on local and regional bus services.

Senior Coachcard – A concessionary travel card that permits people of state pension age to travel on National Express coaches for discounted fares.

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