The Netherlands has a large public transportation network, consisting of metros, trains, trams, buses and ferries, run by various transportation companies. Here is what you need to know about public transport in the Netherlands.
How to pay for public transport in the Netherlands: The OV-Chipkaart
The main payment method for public transportation in the Netherlands is the OV-chipkaart. This system was introduced in November 2011, replacing the strippenkaart system. There are three types of OV-chipkaart available: the disposable OV-chipkaart (perfect for tourists), the anonymous OV-chipkaart, and the personal OV-chipkaart. Which OV-chipkaart is suitable for you?
Paying for public transport in the Netherlands: OVpay
As well as the various types of OV-Chipkaart, which can be loaded with various subscriptions or discounts if you're a regular traveller, it's now also possible to check in and out with your contactless debit card, credit card or mobile phone in most places in the Netherlands. This new payment system is called OVpay and will eventually replace the OV-chipkaart.
How does OVpay work?
Checking in and out of public transport in the Netherlands is easily done by holding your contactless debit card, credit card or mobile card against the card reader at train station barriers or on board buses and trams. Your payment will be automatic, and you will be able to see it under the description NLOV in your card statement. The price will be the same as when you travel with your OV-chipkaart without a discount or subscription.
Please note that you do need to make sure contactless payment is enabled and that you remove your card from your wallet when you check in or out.
What do you need to make use of OVpay?
You can check in and out with the following:
- A contactless debit card from ABN AMRO, ASN Bank, bunq, ING, Knab, Rabobank, RegioBank or SNS.
- A contactless credit card from Mastercard or Visa.
- A foreign contactless card from Maestro or V PAY.
- A mobile phone that is linked to a debit or credit card for contactless payment. So, this also includes Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
Where in the Netherlands can you make use of OVpay?
You can pay for public transport with OVpay in most places in the Netherlands. However, you can check the official website to make sure that you can use this payment method where you are or where you want to travel to.
Taking the metro in the Netherlands
As Dutch cities aren’t very large, it wasn’t until the 20th century that a metro network was introduced in two of the Netherlands’ biggest cities: Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Amsterdam metro network consists of five lines, the newest one (Noord-Zuidlijn) opened in 2018. The Rotterdam metro network consists of five main lines that sometimes transfer into a tram network. Find out more about the metro system in the Netherlands.
If you have ever been in Amsterdam, you’ve probably been in contact with GVB. The GVB (Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf) is the public transport provider for Amsterdam, providing metro, tram, bus and ferry services to over 900 million passengers each year.
Other means of transportation
There are other means of transportation available to you in the Netherlands if you want to avoid public transportation:
- Car: Check to see if your driver's licence is valid in the Netherlands
- Taxi: Here is a handy list of taxi companies
- Bicycle: What you need to know about cycling in the Netherlands
- Plane: Read about Dutch airports