Free school transport (for families on low incomes)

Find out if your child is entitled to free school transport and how to apply.

1 Overview

If your child receives free school meals (on the basis of low income) or you receive the maximum level of working tax credit, your child may be eligible for free school transport.

If you receive the following benefits you may also be eligible:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • The Guarantee Element of the State Pension Credit
  • Support from National Asylum Support Service (NASS) under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (with no working tax credit) with an annual income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on
  • Universal Credit with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400.

2 Eligibility

As well as having a low family income, there are distance criteria to meet. 

Primary school children

Help is available when all of the following apply:

  • your child is aged 8 and over
  • the school attended is the catchment or nearest primary school to your child's home address
  • the home-to-school walking distance is 2 miles or more, measured by the shortest available walking route.

Secondary school children

Help is available when all of the following apply:

  • your child is of secondary school age
  • the secondary school attended is one of the 3 suitable secondary schools nearest to your child's home
  • the home-to-school walking distance is 2 miles or more, measured by the shortest available walking route
  • the school attended is less than 6 miles from your child's home, measured by the shortest road route.

Additionally, help is available for secondary school children from families on low income, as specified above, when all of the following apply:

  • your child attends a school for reasons of religion or belief
  • the school is 2 miles or more from your child's home, measured by the shortest available walking route
  • the school is not more than 15 miles from your child's home, measured by the shortest road route
  • there is no suitable alternative school nearer to your child's home.

Evidence to support grounds of religion or belief will be required and we will be guided by the Equality Act 2006 with regard to definitions. 

3 Apply

If you believe you meet the income and distance criteria you must complete the online application form below. 

You will need to provide evidence of your family income with your application. We accept scanned documents or clear photos of your supporting evidence.

Apply for help with school transport

Applications for the next academic year (starting September) must be made after 1 July or your application will not be processed.

If you are applying for the current year, you can apply now.

If your child already receives:

  • free school transport and meals, you no longer need to reapply each year unless your address changes or your child moves school. We will write to you to let you know if you need to reapply
  • free school transport and you receive qualifying benefits, we will write to you to remind you to reapply.

4 When you'll hear

It can take up to 4 weeks for us to respond to your application.  

If your application is successful we'll write to you with more information about your child's free travel. Help is agreed until the end of the school year. You may need to reapply in the summer term for the next school year. 

If your application is unsuccessful we'll write to you explaining why.

5 Collecting and using the pass

Your child’s pass will be sent to your home address. If they have not received their pass by the start of term, they can use the allocation letter or last year's pass (if it is a renewal).

Rail tickets can be collected from the nearest staffed train station using the letter. 

The pass can only be used:

  • by the child named on the pass
  • to travel to and from the address and school named on the pass
  • on school days
  • at the beginning and end of normal school hours, including after school activities.

The leaflet below provides further guidance about travelling.

6 Contact us

Last updated:
29 August 2019
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