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For students studying in London, you’ll no doubt have heard of the Student Oyster Card. It’s a great way to save money while travelling around London, which we all know can get quite expensive normally. Whether you’re dashing to lectures or exploring the city or on a night out, the Student Oyster Card makes every journey more affordable. But how do you go about getting one and who is eligible? Our guide tells you exactly how to apply for student oyster card and the benefits you’ll get from having one. So, get ready to embrace what London has to offer. With your Student Oyster Card in hand, the city’s your oyster (pun intended).

What is a Student Oyster Card?

what is a student oyster card?
Source: TfL

The Student Oyster Card is just like a travel card, but it’s a budget-friendly option designed for students in London. It offers discounted fares across London’s extensive transport network, including buses, tubes, trams, and more. This card aims to ease the financial burden of travel, allowing students to save up to 30% on adult-rate travelcards and bus & tram passes. It’s a practical and handy way for students who regularly commute to university, part-time jobs, or just want to explore the city to get around without paying a fortune.

What’s the difference between a ‘Student’ oyster card and regular oyster card?

What's the difference between a 'Student' oyster card and regular oyster card?
Source: TfL Facebook

Comparing the Student Oyster Card with its regular counterpart is like comparing a standard gym membership with a premium one. Both give you access to the same facilities (or in this case, the same transport network), but the premium (Student Oyster Card) offers additional perks at a fraction of the cost. The regular Oyster Card simplifies travel with pay-as-you-go capabilities and daily capping, but the Student Oyster Card takes it further by slashing the costs significantly. It’s tailored for the student lifestyle, offering the same convenience with the added benefit of making every penny count. For students juggling academics and budgeting, this card is a game-changer. Read more about whether the Student Oyster Card is worth it to help you decide, which also discussed alternatives.

Eligibility criteria: Who can apply for one?

The Student Oyster Card is a boon for students over 18 living and studying in London. If you’re enrolled in a full-time or part-time educational program in the city, you’re in luck. This card is designed to make your student life easier and more affordable, especially when it comes to navigating the extensive transport network of London. Whether you’re attending lectures, working part-time, or just exploring the city, the Student Oyster Card is your ticket to cheaper and more convenient travel.

To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old. But age is just a number; what’s crucial is your enrolment in an educational institution that’s part of the Oyster scheme. This includes a wide range of universities and colleges across London. The card is tailored for students, ensuring that whether you’re a freshman or a postgraduate researcher, you can benefit from discounted travel as you pursue your academic goals.

What do you need to apply?

When you’re gearing up to get your Student Oyster Card, the first thing you’ll need is your ID. Think of it as the key that unlocks all those travel discounts. A valid passport or your UK driving license should do the trick. They’re just there to prove that you are, indeed, you.

Next up is proving you’re a student. This is where your student ID card or an enrolment letter from your uni or college comes into play. These aren’t just pieces of paper or plastic; they’re your golden tickets to cheaper travel around London. They’re pretty much saying, “Yep, I’m a student, and I’m ready to grab those travel discounts!”

Sometimes, you might need to show a bit more, like a recent utility bill or a bank statement. This isn’t to make life difficult, but just to make sure everything’s up to date. It’s all about making your application as smooth as possible.

The step-by-step application process for a Student Oyster Card

how to apply for a student oyster card - step-by-step process

Applying online

Applying for a Student Oyster Card is a breeze. Start by visiting the Transport for London (TfL) website. Here, you’ll find a dedicated section for the 18+ Student Oyster photocard. The online form is straightforward, guiding you through each step. You’ll need to provide:

  • your personal details
  • student status
  • details of your educational institution.


Ensure you have all the necessary information at hand to make the process smooth and quick.

Submitting your documents

During the application, you’ll be asked to upload certain documents. These typically include a digital photo of yourself (which must meet specific requirements), proof of your student status (like your student ID or enrolment letter), and possibly additional identification documents. It’s crucial that these documents are clear and legible to avoid any delays in your application.

Payment and fees

There is a small application fee for the Student Oyster Card. This fee is paid online during the application process. Have your debit or credit card ready for this. Once you’ve paid the fee, your application is complete. The card is typically valid for up to three years of your course, aligning with the duration of most academic programs.

Using Your Student Oyster Card

using your Student Oyster Card barriers in London underground
Source: Kenneth Jorgensen

How do I top it up?

Once you receive your card, topping it up is simple. You can do this at any Oyster Ticket Stop, which you’ll find in many local shops across London, at tube stations, or online through the Transport for London (TfL) website. When topping up online, you can add credit to your card from the comfort of your home or on the go, making it a convenient option for busy students. It’s essential to keep your card topped up to ensure uninterrupted travel across the city.

Where can I use it?

Your Student Oyster Card is incredibly versatile. It’s valid on all TfL services, which includes buses, tubes, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, and some National Rail services. This wide range of transport options means you can travel almost anywhere within London using your card, making it an indispensable tool for both your studies and leisure activities.

How can I renew my Student Oyster Card?

Renewing your Student Oyster Card is an important step to ensure uninterrupted access to discounted travel across London’s transport network. The card is valid for the entire duration of your course, but it does require an annual renewal. This process is designed to verify your continued eligibility for the scheme and to maintain the card’s active status. To renew your card, the process is straightforward and user-friendly. You simply need to log in to your Transport for London (TfL) account. Once logged in, you’ll find clear instructions and steps to guide you through the renewal process. Following these steps is crucial to ensure that your card remains active, allowing you to continue enjoying the benefits of discounted travel. This annual check-in with TfL is a small but essential task for maintaining your travel benefits as a student in London.

Life can be full of changes, especially during your student years. You might find yourself moving to a new residence or even changing your course. It’s important to remember that these changes need to be reflected in your Student Oyster Card details. Updating your information is not just a bureaucratic step; it’s essential for ensuring seamless service and avoiding any potential issues with your card’s validity. The TfL website provides an easy platform for updating your personal details. Whether it’s a change of address or a change in your educational circumstances, keeping your information up to date on the TfL website is vital. This ensures that your Student Oyster Card accurately reflects your current situation, thereby avoiding any complications or disruptions in using the card. Regularly updating your details helps in maintaining a smooth and hassle-free travel experience as you navigate through your academic journey in London.

What to do if I lose my Student Oyster Card or it gets stolen or doesn’t work?

If your card is lost or stolen, don’t worry. Report it immediately on the TfL website. TfL will typically issue a replacement, ensuring you’re not left stranded without a way to travel.

If your card isn’t working, the first step is to speak with a staff member at any tube station. They’re knowledgeable and can often resolve minor issues on the spot. For more complex issues, TfL’s customer service team is available to assist. You can contact them via phone or email for help with any problems you encounter with your card.

Absolutely! As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you're good to go.

Typically, it takes about a week, but it can vary. Plan ahead to ensure you're not left without a card when you need it

You should inform TfL as your card will no longer be valid, and you might need to return it.

Last Updated on March 5, 2024