Mar 19, 2019

What is the OV-chipcard?

OV is the abbreviation for Openbaar Vervoer, which is the Dutch for public transport. When you travel by bus, metro or train you can use an OV-chipcard for your travels. The card is loaded with cash and when you travel from your departure station you check-in (inchecken) and when you arrive at your destination you check out (uitchecken). The price of your journey is then debited from your card.

In buses, the check-in reader is usually on the bus beside the door or driver and at the train station the check-in reader can be either a free standing pole at the entrance of the station/on the platform or a reader is attached to the barrier gates. Some also have built in QR code scanners - you can use these for your mobile tickets too. If you are travelling with different train companies during your trip you can check in, when you switch trains you will need to check out from that company and check in again for the other train company - when you finish your trip you can then check out. If you are travelling with only one train company for your entire trip then it does not mater if you switch trains you can check in once and out once at the end of your trip. You can see a video on how this works here.

There are three types of OV chip cards that allow you to travel on the public transport system in Holland:

Disposable chipcards

Anonymous chipcards

Personal chipcards

See the above links (coming soon) for more information on where you can use/buy your chipcard.

Mar 9, 2019

Buying Train Tickets in the Netherlands


So you have arrived in the Netherlands (the low lands, Holland - however you wish to call it) and you want to explore. If you are not organised enough to have already purchased your train tickets....well don’t panic - Here are 6 ways to purchase your Dutch rail ticket.

1. E-tickets

These single-use tickets can be purchased online here via the NS (Nederlands Spoorwegen- the Dutch National Railway Company). These tickets will have your name and date of birth on them and can be downloaded onto your phone or printed out. They are valid with your ID. It is easy as that! These e-tickets are the best option if you are already at the station and want to travel immediately. These tickets are 1 cheaper than buying from the ticket machine. There will be a QR code on the ticket that you can scan either from your phone or the printed page into the code reader on the gates in the train station to gain access. If you have any problems doing this (not all barriers have the QR reader), then there will be staff who can assist you with enter. 

2. Disposable OV Chipcard 

The OV ChipCard is a Public Transport Smart Card. You can buy a single use card from the train staff at the station ticket desk or from the yellow ticket machines in the train stations. A €1 service fee will be applied when buying this card from either the machine or the staff. The card is used like any other public transport smart card. You will need to 'check in' and 'check out' at your last station when using the card. I will explain more about this in a new post. When your trip is over the ticket is no longer valid - and you can throw it away.

3. The Anonomyous OV Chipcard
This is a good option for non-Dutch residents who you plan to travel around the Netherlands a lot. It is a plastic card (that costs 7.50) that is loaded with money and you use it to 'check in ' and 'check out' of train stations. Don’t forget you have to keep it topped up to a minimum €20. You can purchase your OV Chipcard from the station (at ticket desk or the yellow ticket machines) or from some shops in the Netherlands. I will post more about how to use these cards soon.

4. The Personal OV-Chipcard
These really take the hassle out of travel as they offer various options and (discounts however they are only for residents of Holland. There are various subscription options available as explained in this post on the Personal OV-Chipcard (coming soon).

5. Oher Tickets
Some newsagents/grocery and hardware stores sell discounted tickets from time to time. These typically have their own set of rules regarding usage. You can read more about this here (coming soon). It will include tips and hints for getting a better value ticket such as the ‘koop kaartjes’ and ‘uutjes kaartjes’ from shops in the Netherlands

6. Rail Pass (InterRail or Eurail Pass):

Prices vary depending on where you purchase the pass and the class you choose from but range from €125 upwards.

Remember that it is not possible to buy tickets on the train so be sure to have one before you enter the platform. Queues at the ticket desk in the airport can be long so a little planning ahead saves time and money!