Image courtesy Wikimedia commons
In 2009 a new payment system for public transport is introduced in the Netherlands. It' s called OV-Chipcard. The website is very confusing (even for Dutch) and I think its a fairly complicated system, so I will try to summarize the basics for you. Don't blame me if I'm not correct, please. The rules are still changing.
How the Ov-Chipcard works
You need to buy a payment card, or buy a subscription for it. The payment card must be preloaded with a positive balance, so its essentially a debit card for public transport. Before your trip starts, you must register with an automation.
Your card will be charged then with re relative high amount of money. For trams, busses, metro this is Euro 4,00. For trains it may be as high as Euro 20,-. Only one person at a time can use a card, so if you travel with four persons, you need four cards.
When you finish your trip, you have to check out. Then the deposit is refunded. You pay for each travelled kilometer.
Depending on the transport system, you need to check in at the platform (trains, metro, some tram lines) or inside the carriage. If you forget to check out, you can ask for a refund at the transport companies web site. The procedure may be quite complicated, so I'm not sure if you can use this as a foreigner.
When you use it in a train, please see the rules at the page about Train tickets:
There are three types of cards:
- A personal card, for which you need a photo. You can take a subscription, so you never run out of debet salde. You also can get overviews of all your trips.
- An anonymous card. You can use it more than once, but it costs Euro 7,50 to buy. You will not get a refund on the saldo and purchase price of the card.
- A throw away card. The throw away card if free, and it's preloaded with what they call travelling product (horrible term). Be aware that your trips will be very expensive if you use this option. Using the throw away card with diferent transport companies can be a bit problematic. I am not sure the card will still be valid when you contiue our trip wth another transport company. It´s very expensive anyway.
You will have to purchase the reloadable card. They will cost about Euro 7,50 each, though discounts are possible. You will need a debit saldo of at least Euro 4.00. You get no refund if you do not longer need the card. So my advice is to buy one second hand if possible from friends, or sell it to friends afeter your visit.
For each trip a base fare of Euro 0.75 will be charged. The km fare depends on the company. At the moment nobody can tell you how much a trip will cost.
If you change, you must check out and check in again. If you change withing 35 minutes, the base fare will not be charged again.
If you leave the same station where you checked in within 35 minutes, no fare is charged, so you still may kiss your lover goodbuy. (One of the few good things).
Where to buy
You can buy the card at the offices of public transport companies, at metro stations, railway stations and in many shops and super markets. For recharging the card, you will need a debit card with the Maestro logo, which is also widely used in shops with the name "PINpas".
In some buses you can recharge as well, but only after you checked in.
Warning: in the country side it may be difficult to find a place where you can recharge your card!!
Where to use
You can use the OV-Chipcard with almost all transport companies.
For trains I do not recommend using it yet. The best way is to buy a train ticket at the ticket office or vending machine.
Website V-chipcard (English pages) Note the quality of the trnaslation is poor. Still many parts have nogt been translated.