The OV-chipkaart is a card that you must use for all public transport, anywhere in the Netherlands. You can load money on the card and pay for your rides in trams, buses, metros and trains.
Use of the OV-chipkaart is obligatory in all public transport. In Amsterdam you can buy a single-use ov-chipcard in trams and buses (from the driver or the tram conductor).
In trains, the use of the OV-chipkaart is also obligatory. It is possible to buy a single-use ov-chipkaart from a counter or a ticket machine (not on the train itself, you must have a valid ticket before you enter the train). The single-use ov-chipkaart is practically like an old-fashioned train ticket, but it has a small chip inside on which it is written what you bought. This is not written in characters any more on the ticket itself, unfortunately.
The single-use train ov-chipkaart comes with a surcharge of 1 Euro for each ticket, and discounts do not apply.
If you do not wish to buy single-use chipcards all the time, you can buy an OV-chipcard at a counter (for example, at the OV-service shop at Amsterdam Central Station), and load money onto the card.
You need only one OV-chipcard per person- the money you load onto it can be used in all different kinds of public transport all over the country.
An OV-chipkaart works by swiping it before a check-in machine. The machine will beep to indicate your card was recognized, and you are checked in.
If you leave the vehicle, you swipe the card again to check out. Then the system calculates what your ride should cost and this is taken from the money on your card.
Single-use chipcards can be thrown away after checking out.
- If you take a bus or tram ride, you always check in at entering, and check out before leaving.
Example: if you take tram 10 to Leidseplein in Amsterdam, then tram 1 to Central Station, you check out from tram 10 and check in in tram 1 again (and check out again at Central Station). The system will automatically recognize you're making a transfer.
- However, if you take a train ride, and change to another train you only check out if you have completed the last part of your train ride. If you leave the train station, you must always check out.
The check-out/in machines of buses and trams are located inside the buses and trams. The machines on the train stations are located in the halls (Amsterdam Centraal Station). On smaller stations you may find them on the train platform. The machines are never inside a train.
The same goes for metros: the check-in/out poles are on the platform, never inside the metro carriage.
Check-out gate OV-chipcard @ Amsterdam Central Station
OV chip card
Check-in/out poal OV-chipcard on train platform