Applying for an Over 60s Bus Pass in Scotland

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently celebrated my 60th birthday. As I live in Scotland, that meant that I was eligible for a National Entitlement Card (NEC), commonly referred to as an over 60s Bus Pass. This smartcard offers the holder free bus travel throughout Scotland.

It’s a good idea to apply for your NEC a couple of weeks before your 60th birthday, as it takes an average of ten working days to process your application.

We live in Stirling, so I had to pick up an NEC application form at Stirling bus station. You need to make the application in person. So that I could complete the form at the bus station as soon as I picked up the form, I had read up in advance that I would need a recent passport style photo and two forms of ID to make the application.

Getting a passport photo ended up being a hassle. I went to a photo booth at a station in Glasgow. The booth wasn’t working properly. I assumed that I had to put in the required £6 in coins to start the process. Once I had entered the cash, no instructions appeared on the screen. When I pressed the money return button, nothing happened. I tried to phone the booth operator, Photo-Me, but there was no reply. I took a photo of the booth number, partly as one of the digits was indistinct and as proof that I had been in the booth.

When I returned home, I completed an online enquiry form on the Photo-Me website, attaching my photo. I received a reply by email the following day asking me for my bank details to send a £6 refund. But it was such a frustrating waste of time.

A few days later, I walked into Stirling to try my luck at a different photo booth. Thankfully that booth was in working order. I got an application form at the bus station office. It was quite a short application form.

I took my completed form back to the counter clerk, along with my ID and photo. The counter clerk checked the form. I had forgotten to add my name and date of birth to back of the photo. The clerk kindly did that for me and then made copies of my ID.

I was a bit surprised that you can’t apply for an NEC online. Especially as I applied for a Senior Railcard online on the same day. To apply for the Senior Railcard online, I had to enter details of my passport. I received my railcard the following day by first class post. It was so fast and straightforward compared to the hassle of getting a physical photo, having to go to Stirling bus station and then waiting for to receive the NEC.

It seems to me that it would be more convenient for many people and save the Scottish Government money, if there was an option to apply for an NEC online. I think that the option to apply in person should be retained, for people who either don’t like entering sensitive information online or are not tech savvy.