Do kids need an Oyster card? Using the Zip Oyster card for children

Children travel free, or at discounted fares, on London’s public transport system, making it a great option for families to get around the capital.
Young boy looks at a map of the London Underground in a Tube station
Find out whether your children need an Oyster card to ride the London Underground. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
  • Children under 11 travel free on most public transport services in London when accompanied by a fare-paying adult, or with a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard.

  • Children aged 11 to 15 years old can get free or discounted travel with a Zip Oyster photocard, or a Young Visitor discount.

  • 16 and 17 year olds pay half the adult rate on Tube, DLR and London Overground journeys with a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard. 

Very young children do not need their own Oyster cards if travelling with a fare-paying adult.

You can ask station staff to open the wide luggage gate for children to go through. Alternatively, some gates can be opened automatically with a ticket or Oyster card.

Some children can travel free or at a discounted rate with a Zip Oyster card, which is a young person's Oyster photocard. You must apply online in advance for a Zip Oyster card.

Children aged under five

Children under five can travel free at any time on the Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), buses, trams and London Overground, as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket.

On Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus services, kids aged four and under travel free. Children under five also travel free on the IFS Cloud Cable Car when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.

Children aged five to 10

Children aged five to 10 can travel free at any time by Tube, DLR, London Overground and some National Rail services in London, as long as they travel with an adult who has a valid ticket. Up to four children can travel free with one adult.

Children aged five to 10 can travel unaccompanied on the Tube, DLR, London Overground and Elizabeth line with a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard. They can travel on their own and without a photocard on trams and buses.

On Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus services, families can purchase a Family River Roamer ticket, which allows unlimited hop-on hop-off river travel for two adults and three children aged five to 15 years.

Children aged five to 15 pay child rate fares on the IFS Cloud Cable Car.

Children aged 11 to 15

Children aged 11 to 15 years who live in the UK can travel free on buses and trams and at the child rate on Tube, DLR and London Overground services if they have an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard.

If you're visiting London from outside the UK, ask for the Young Visitor discount to be set up on an Oyster card at any Tube, London Overground or Elizabeth line station. This allows a child aged 11 to 15 to travel at 50% off the adult fare for 14 days. The child must be with you when you ask for the Young Visitor discount.

Children aged 16 and 17

16 and 17 year olds who live in the UK can apply online for a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard for 50% off adult pay-as-you-go fares on the bus, Tube, DLR, London Overground and Elizabeth line.

National Rail trains

You may need to buy a ticket for children travelling on National Rail train services in London, so make sure to check with the specific train company.

Some train operators have flat fares for children, while some train companies sometimes run family-friendly promotions, such as Kids for a Quid on Southeastern.

Students living in London

Students aged 18 years and older who live in London and are in qualifying full-time education can also apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. This card provides 30% off the price of adult-rate Travelcards and bus and tram passes.

More questions about Zip Oyster cards?

Still not sure which travel ticket you need to buy for your children? Unclear on how to use an Oyster card? Read our Oyster FAQs pages for the answer to these and other Oyster-related questions.