Public transportation in the Netherlands

The Dutch public transport system explained.

The Dutch public transport system is excellent, if you don’t mind us being slightly smug about that! Wherever you want to travel, you can get there easily and comfortably by taking the train, bus, tram, metro, or ferry.

9292 It’s good to know that there is one information point for all public transport info! The company REISinformatiegroep B.V. was founded in 1991 as a collaboration between all the public transport companies in the Netherlands, and it collects, edits and relays information about public transport in the Netherlands to travellers. Because of its slightly ungainly name, it’s always been commonly referred to as 9292, a name that stems from the phone number 06-9292 that used to be the main way to connect to the company.

Planning your trip
These days you can get information from them through their website and mobile app for Android, Windows Phone and iOS. The handy thing about these is that they allow you to completely plan your journey by public transport, from door to door. Even if you will be travelling by train, metro, foot and ferry for your one journey, that’s no problem. You can select a departure or arrival time to start planning.

If you are only travelling by train, for instance, you might be better off using the NS app (NS stands for Nationale Spoorwegen, Dutch railways): its dedicated app will sooner have information about irregularities and the like. Still, if you use multiple modes of transport in a day and want to be able to completely map your journey from start to finish (instead of from station to station, as you would for the NS app), 9292 is your friend!

Find the 9292 website, NS website and link to the apps in store below:

Multiple transport companies

Please note that there are multiple transport companies in the Netherlands, NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) is the main one but other railway companies are: Arriva, Veolia, Breng, Connexxion, Qbuzz and Keolis. Sometimes you need to switch trains and train companies while going from one destination to another. So please check carefully which train company you are traveling with and make sure you pick the right check-in card reader (for the company you are traveling with) before you enter the train and the right check-out when you leave the train (station).

Traveling with a Debit Card

Since 2023 it is possible to use your contactless Debit card, Credit card, or digital wallet to check in and out on public transport. This is useful when you first arrive in the Netherlands but it can still be nice to get a public transport card to make use of season passes, discounts, etc. You can read more about traveling with a bank card here.

Find out more about traveling with a public transport card below!



OV-chipkaart & subscriptions

The OV-chipkaart is the payment method for public transportation in trams, the metro and buses in the Netherlands. It is a public transport smart card. There are three types of OV-chipkaart:

Single-Use/Disposable OV-chipkaart; The disposable OV-chipkaart is made of stiff paper and cannot be topped up with credit. Thus, it is intended for travellers who do not use the Dutch public transportation system very often, for example tourists. The disposable OV-chipkaart can be purchased from ticket machines or on-board (when you travel by bus), and since this type of card is topped up when you buy it, you can use it straight away to travel for one trip or 24 hours (unlimited travel for one day). Note that you have to check in and out with the disposable chipkaart otherwise it becomes invalid.

Anonymous OV-chipkaart; The anonymous OV-chipkaart (anonieme OV-chipkaart) is reusable, and once loaded with electronic credit it can be used for travelling. It can be used by the owner as well as by others, but not at the same time. Travellers pay per kilometre and the balance (saldo) can be topped up at machines and kiosks. However, note that you cannot load any personal travel products, such as a pass for commuting or a season ticket, onto the anonymous OV-chipkaart. Anonymous OV Chipkaarten that you can reload can be purchased at the service desk of the central train station and at service counters of certain supermarkets, and if you load credit, you can use the card immediately after purchase.

Personal OV-chipkaart; The personal OV-chipkaart (persoonlijke OV-chipkaart) is for one user and includes his / her name, date of birth, and photograph. Consequently, the personal version is non-transferable, but the owner does enjoy other benefits including the option to block it (for instance in case of theft) and automatic top up. The personal OV-chipkaart can also be loaded with an off-peak hours train travel discount from NS (voordeelurenabonnement) or other subscriptions. It is also possible to load the personal chipkaart with season tickets and other products. To apply for the personal version of the chipkaart you must have a Dutch address and a bank account. Residents of Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg can also acquire one by paying via a Dutch bank account, PayPal, or credit card. The personal Ov chipkaart also allows you to view your travel details online through My OV.

Using your OV-chipkaart

You can charge your OV-chipkaart via several different methods, one of which is charging your card at a yellow loading dock located at any train station. These loading docks are also available in some stores (e.g. Primera) and supermarkets (e.g. Albert Heijn). You can also do this online with a personal OV-chipkaart or anonymous OV-chipkaart.

Tip! Always make sure you have enough electronic credit before travelling. 

To be able to travel by bus, train or metro or to enter the (train) station you need to check in and out with your OV-chipkaart. If you have forgotten to check out you can apply for a refund. Do not forget to check in since the fines for forgetting to check in can be quite large.


Check all subscriptions for your OV-chipkaart

Find out about traveling by Ferry here