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International passengers

Each year, approximately 8 million people use the train to travel from the Netherlands to other countries or vice versa. Train passengers from other countries do not usually have an OV-chipkaart. Even so, they will still be able to get through the gates by using the square barcode on their ticket or a KeyCard given to them on the train or at the station.

Getting through the gates using the square barcode on the ticket

NS wants international passengers to be able to use their tickets to open the gates; that is simply good customer service. Since NS does not have any control over the tickets issued by foreign carriers, we have chosen to accommodate an existing ticket identification method as much as possible: the square barcode.

Many international tickets feature a square barcode. The travel information in this square barcode are securely encrypted and are validated by NS during checks on board the train in order to combat fraud and misuse. That is why NS uses this same square barcode to allow passengers to open the gates.

Barcode on home printed tickets

Many international tickets are issued as so-called home printed tickets. Home printed tickets from NS feature a square barcode and NS has investigated the tickets issued in neighbouring countries. Home printed tickets from the Deutsche Bahn (DB), Eurostar and Belgian Rail (NMBS) feature the correct square barcode. French Rail (SNCF) and Swiss carriers do not issue home printed tickets to the Netherlands. Thalys only issues home printed tickets to stations that they also call at; as soon as gates are installed at these stations, the home printed tickets will be equipped with the correct square barcode. This is currently being arranged.

Barcode on ATB-tickets

Many international tickets are issued as so-called ATB-tickets. NS has designed its ATB-tickets with a square barcode on the front or back and has asked carriers in neighbouring countries to do the same.

  • Belgium: ATB-tickets to stations in the Netherlands issued by NMBS will feature the correct square barcode from early 2015. However, several travel agents in Belgium still have old printers that are unable to print the new barcodes and these printers cannot be adapted.
  • Germany: ATB-tickets issued by DB feature a simpler type of square barcode that is not secure enough to open the gates. A solution is still being discussed with DB.
  • France: ATB-tickets issued by SNCF do not feature a square barcode. We expect this to be resolved at some point in 2015.
  • United Kingdom:
  • Eurostar in combination with IC Brussel offers the option to travel to any station in the Netherlands (any Dutch station). If this option is chosen, the passenger receives a home printed ticket with the correct square barcode.
  • Eurostar in combination with Thalys tickets from Brussels are only valid when travelling to a Thalys station. In the near future, passengers will be able to open gates with Thalys tickets.

Barcodes from DB and NMBS ticket machines

Tickets that are sold by NMBS in Belgium from the ticket office or machine only go to Roosendaal (gates) or Maastricht (no gates) and feature square barcodes.
Using DB ticket machines it is possible to buy tickets to all destinations in the Netherlands. In the short term, these tickets will not feature a functional square barcode.

Getting through gates with a keycard

Not all international tickets issued by foreign railway companies feature working square barcodes. For this reason, KeyCards are issued to international travellers with valid international train tickets without barcodes, so that they can open gates.

Issuing KeyCards on the train

On cross-border routes that are being used in collaboration with NS, employees on trains entering the Netherlands issue KeyCards while they are checking tickets. These can be used to open all gates in the Netherlands upon arrival. Passengers who intend to make a return journey must keep their KeyCards so that they can open the gates on their way back.

  • From the first quarter of 2015 passengers travelling with IC Brussel, IC Berlijn or ICE International will receive a KeyCard on the train.
  • NS is currently in negotiations with Thalys and Eurostar which should be concluded by the time the gates at Rotterdam Centraal, Schiphol and Amsterdam Centraal stations are in full use. Passengers on these trains always have a ticket with one of these stations as the final destination, or they have a functional square barcode for a station further on that has access gates.
  • With regards to the CityNightline, it has been agreed that once all the gates at the stations where this train stops (Arnhem, Utrecht Centraal, Amsterdam Centraal) are in use, KeyCards will also be made available on the train.

Assistance at the station

It is possible for passengers to both have no functional barcode on their international ticket and not be issued with a KeyCard. These passengers can report to the information pole next to the gates and press the blue button for assistance. Passengers can also request help from a member of our service staff if one is available at the station.

Issued in other ways:

Passengers travelling with an NS Chartertrain are issued a ticket with a square barcode in advance, or a KeyCard from the organisation that is arranging the transport.

Travelling for the Netherlands to other countries

With an international home printed or ATB-ticket: The passenger buys an international ticket from the departure station in the Netherlands to their final destination abroad. It is not necessary to check in and any gates can be opened using the square barcode on the international ticket.

With a single-use chipkaart: The passenger buys an international ticket from the departure station in the Netherlands to their final destination abroad. He or she checks in and opens the gate to the departure station. On the return journey it is only necessary to check out at the final destination in the Netherlands.

Passengers can go to Travelling with an OV-chipkaart for advice regarding how to get through the access gates.

See also the overview (in Dutch)