Free school transport
Find out if your child aged 4 to 16 years is entitled to free school transport and how to apply. Find information about transport for your child aged 16+.
Your child can get free travel if they attend their nearest appropriate school.
Appropriate in this instance means:
- age appropriate - attendance at a primary and secondary school
- ability appropriate - attendance at a mainstream or special school.
They also need to be:
- over 8 years old and live more than 3 miles from the school using the shortest available walking route.
- under 8 years old and live more than 2 miles from the school using the shortest available walking route.
A walking route can include public footpaths and is a route that a child, accompanied as necessary, can walk to and from school with reasonable safety to school.
Your nearest suitable school may not always be the school of your choice, and won't take into account your preferences for types of school, for example a single-sex school, sports college or grammar school. In some parts of the county it may be a school in another educational authority, outside of Kent.
If the local council decides a route is hazardous, free transport assistance will be granted, even if it is under the statutory distance, provided the child is attending their nearest appropriate school.
If your child has special educational needs (SEN)
If your child meets the criteria above you may also be able to apply for a personal transport budget.
If your child doesn't meet the criteria above you may still be able to get help if their needs make their journey to school difficult. We will take into account whether your child can safely travel to school with a parent or carer, either on foot or in a vehicle.
As a starting point, normally you won’t be entitled to free school transport if the school your child goes to is not the closest one that meets their needs. There are, however, some exceptions to this principle and you should read the SEN transport guidance (PDF, 2.2 MB) to see if these are applicable to you.
For advice about your child's journey to school speak to your SEN officer.
For more information about the latest changes to SEN home to school transport.
If you have low income
Find out about the criteria for applying for free school transport if you have low income.
See 'Who can get it' to find out if you are eligible.
Please ensure you have read KCC’s Transport Eligibility privacy notice before you apply for home to school transport.
If your child is starting a new school in September 2019, you must apply by:
- 16 April 2019 if your child has an EHCP plan
- 12 July 2019 for all other children.
Applications received after these dates will still be assessed, but we cannot guarantee that you will receive a decision before the start of the school year in September 2019.
Applications for the 2018-19 school year received after 28 June 2019 will be processed, but transport will not be organised to start before the beginning of the September 2019 term. This is due to the time it takes to assess and implement applications.
Alternatively, you can apply for home to school transport (including children from low income families or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan) by completing a Home to School Transport Form T1. (PDF, 77.5 KB)
Find out more in our Home to School Transport Guide (PDF, 2.2 MB).
Primary school transport
If your child is at primary school and already receives free school transport, you do not need to reapply until your child moves to secondary school. When this happens, complete the forms above.
Secondary school transport
If your child is at secondary school and already receives free school transport, you do not need to apply to renew it. A new pass will automatically be sent to the school for the first day of each academic year until the end of year 11.
Special Educational Needs (SEN) Schools
If your child has SEN and attends a mainstream or special school, and already receives free school transport, you do not need to reapply unless your child moves to a new school.
Transport for low income families
If your child has been granted free school transport under the low income criteria, you will need to be reapply each year and. We will send you a form to complete and return with the most up to date Inland Revenue TC 602 letter.
It can take up to 6 weeks for us to respond to your application. It's your responsibility to take your child to and from school during this time.
If your application is successful we'll write to you with more information about your child's free travel.
If your application is unsuccessful we'll write to you to explain why.
If your application is successful we'll write to tell you what type of transport your child has been given. They may be given a pass for public transport or be offered a seat on a vehicle we hire. We will allocate the type of transport and a route that is the best value for money.
Your child can collect their pass from the school on the first day of term. The letter will tell you what type of transport your child can use to get to school on that day and your child can use this letter to travel for free.
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.
If a child misbehaves during the journey their pass can be withdrawn.
Lost, damaged or stolen passes
If your pass is lost, damaged or stolen you will need to pay for a replacement.
To order a replacement call:
- East Kent (Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway, Swale and Thanet)
03000 41 45 71 or 03000 41 35 14
- West Kent (Dartford, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells)
03000 41 35 83 or 03000 41 85 15.
Changes to your details
If your circumstances change, for example if your child changes school or address, please email the details to us as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no guarantee that your child will continue to be eligible for transport assistance from their new address or school. You will be responsible for the provision of home to school transport for your child until you have been notified of the outcome of the assessment.
If your child is not eligible for free home to school transport, there are other school transport options available.
If you are unhappy with the decision to turn down your application you can email email@example.com to outline the reasons why. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, it will not be possible to discuss your refusal over the phone. If you are still unhappy then you have the right to make an appeal.