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Preparing your OV-chipkaart for use

Activating an OV-chipkaart

If you have bought an OV-chipkaart without an NS season ticket from NS (from at an NS service desk or an NS ticket machine) then you will be able to use it immediately for your NS train journeys. All you have to do is to add credit to the balance on your card and check in before starting your train journey.

If you have bought an OV-chipkaart from another public transport operator you have to activate the OV-chipkaart (this only needs to be done once) at an NS ticket machine by adding credit to its the credit balance. When activating your OV-chipkaart, you can also choose whether you want to travel first or second class. You can do that this at the an NS ticket machine at the station. The minimum boarding fee for travelling with an the OV-chipkaart is € 20, or € 10 for customers with an NS season ticket. You can also arrange this at any Tickets & Service desk.

If you already have sufficient credit stored on your card, you can go to an NS ticket machine or service desk to add the a 'pre-paid travel with NS' product to your OV-chipkaart.

Depending on your card and season ticket type, you may need to take a number of steps:

  1. Adding credit to the balance at an NS ticket machine or service desk - the 'pre-paid travel with NS' product for second-class travel will automatically be put on your OV-chipkaart
  2. If you already have sufficient credit stored on your card, you can go to an NS ticket machine or service desk to add the 'pre-paid travel with NS' product to your OV-chipkaart

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Topping up credit

Topping up credit
You pay for your journey with the credit stored on your card every time you check in and out.

Where can I top up credit?
You can top up the credit balance at any NS ticket machine as well as at NS service desks, ov-chipkaart.nl  

How do I top up the balance at an NS ticket machine?

  • Hold your OV-chipkaart in front of the card reader, which is under the screen at the right
  • Select 'Add credit' on the screen
  • Select an amount
  • Pay with your Dutch bank card, Dutch Chipknip smartcard or cash.
  • Then hold your OV-chipkaart in front of the card reader again

How much credit balance do I need?
Whenever you check in with NS, a temporary boarding fee will be deducted from your card. This is a kind of deposit. The journey price is calculated when you check out and any discount deducted automatically. If the journey price is less than the boarding fee, the difference will automatically be credited to your OV-chipkaart.

This means you always need to have at least the boarding fee in credit on your card to be able to check in with NS. The boarding fee is €10 for holders of a personalised OV-chipkaart with Weekend Vrij, Dal Vrij, Dal Voordeel, Altijd Voordeel, Traject Vrij or Voordeelurenabonnement. There is no boarding fee for the Kids Vrij and Altijd Vrij season tickets. The boarding fee for holders of a personalised OV-chipkaart without a season ticket or an anonymous OV-chipkaart is € 20.

You can store up to €150 in credit on your card.

Good to know: With a single-use chipcard you can only check in and out with the product previously added to the card by the ticket machine. The single-use chipcard does not allow you to use the card as an e-purse (travelling on pre-paid credit) and it is not possible to add a balance or other product to a single-use chipcard.


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