18+ Student Oyster photocard

Personal information we hold

The personal information we hold about you includes:

  • Title, name, address, email address, telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Telephone number
  • Photograph
  • Scanned image of your passport details page (which includes your photograph and passport number)
  • The name of your educational establishment or training provider, student enrolment ID number, course dates
  • Password and user name for your TfL web account
  • Your marketing and contact preferences
  • Your journey history
  • Payment card information or bank account and sort code numbers
  • Transaction information (when and where you topped up your balance or purchased a season ticket, or were issued with a refund)
  • Enquiries, complaints or other correspondence from you

If you sign in to your web account, TfL will collect the IP address used by your device for the purpose of fraud prevention and detection.

Legal basis for using your information

Under data protection legislation, TfL is only allowed to use personal information if we have a proper reason or 'legal basis' to do so. In the case of Oyster, there are a number of these 'legal grounds' we rely on, which are:

  • Our statutory and public functions:
    • to undertake activities to promote and encourage safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services, and to deliver the Mayor's Transport Strategy
  • Where you have given your consent to TfL, for example:
    • where you have opted in to receive marketing messages or in-app notifications from us; or
    • you have asked the contact centre to resolve an issue or complaint for you
  • For the 'performance of a contract', for example:
    • in connection with the terms and conditions of the 18+ Student photocard
    • in connection with the purchase of pay as you go credit, or a season ticket
    • where you have created an online account so we can provide additional services to you

Obtaining and using your personal information

The personal information we hold is provided by you when you apply for your 18+ Student Oyster photocard.

TfL and the companies that process personal information on our behalf use your information for customer services and to administer the 18+ Student Oyster photo card scheme.

For example, we will use your personal information to ensure that you are eligible (and continue to be eligible) for the particular scheme you have applied for, to issue your 18+ Student Oyster photo card and respond to queries if you contact us.

In June 2019, we introduced a new requirement that all applicants must supply a scanned image of their passport details page (the page with your photograph and passport number) as part of the online application process for a Zip Oyster photocard. We do this in order to prevent and detect fraudulent applications, and to ensure that our concessionary travel schemes are only used by those people actually eligible to do so. We will not use your passport information for any other purpose.

If you contact Customer Services, we will need to collect information from you so that we can respond to your query or request. If you phone us we may record your call and this allows us to train staff, review call quality and have access to a verbal record of what has been said in the event of a subsequent complaint. At the end of your contact with us, we may email you to take part in a customer satisfaction survey about your experience with Customer Services. This will help us to monitor our performance, improve quality and plan for future services.

We sometimes also undertake analysis or research into the types of subjects that commonly cause customer concerns and complaints. For example we might look for key words or themes and this helps us improve and plan our services for the future. Pseudonymisation, or other appropriate data minimisation techniques are applied so that we can analyse the subject matter without needing to know the identity of the person themselves. This is a way of protecting people's privacy in line with the Information Commissioner's Anonymisation Code of Practice.

We may send you a text message to let you know when applications are open for the next academic year, or that your card is on its way. We will also contact you near the expiry date of your card to tell you about your future ticketing options.

TfL's ticketing systems record the location, date and time an Oyster card is used to make a journey on TfL's network, affiliated National Rail services or London River Services on which Oyster cards are accepted.

If you add your 18+ card to your Oyster web account from time to time, we will send you travel related information by email. These messages might include:

  • important changes to services you use
  • new travel services
  • travel disruption
  • information about fares
  • consultations on TfL's plans for transport in London

We appreciate that you don't always want to be contacted in this way, so these emails will include a hyperlink so you can opt out from receiving future service messages at any time.

We will only send you messages about TfL's offers and promotions if you choose to receive them, and you can change your marketing preferences at any time.

On occasion we may also send you details of surveys for you to participate in. Some of these surveys will be sent to you based on your use of TfL services (e.g. journey information, services used, frequency of use, etc). Such emails will include a hyperlink so you can opt out of future surveys.

When you create a photocard account to apply for your 18+ Oyster photocard, from time to time we will also send you certain messages by email. These messages are necessary in relation to your 18+ Oyster photocard and we are obliged to send these to you (you cannot opt out from these). These messages might include:

  • updates about your application
  • reminders that your card is close to expiry
  • confirmation of updates you have made to your account (eg change of personal details)
  • important changes to the terms and conditions of the 18+ Oyster Photocard scheme; for example, the days and times you can use your concession

TfL will never pass your personal information to any other organisation for marketing purposes without your prior consent.

TfL will use aggregated or depersonalised Oyster journey information to carry out research and analysis, for example, to look at travel demand, provide customers with information on how busy stations are at particular times and to make improvements to our transport services. Individuals will not be identified using this information.

Relevant police services, and Local Authority Anti Social Behaviour units may provide TfL with details of any criminal convictions, warnings, reprimands, or other sanctions issued in relation to offences that have been committed by you on, or in relation to, London's public transport network.

Such information may be used as the basis for the withdrawal of your 18+ Student Oyster photocard, and TfL may inform the police of any decision to withdraw your concession.

Length of time we keep information

TfL will retain personal information in line with its data retention policies. This means that we will not hold information for longer than is necessary for the purposes we obtained it for.

We retain data about the individual journeys made using your 18+ Student Oyster photocard for between eight and nine weeks after the card is used. The journey data in the ticketing system is then disassociated from your card during the ninth week (ie pseudonymised). This period is considered reasonable to enable customers to verify or make enquiries concerning their journeys (for example, for refund purposes).

Some journey information is also stored on the Oyster card itself; this comprises the last eight journeys and related charges, up to three season tickets, (generally the most recent three tickets, including future dated), and the last two incomplete journeys, if any. If you don't use your Oyster card very often, the data stored on the card may be older than eight weeks. However, no other data is stored on the Oyster card itself (eg name or address).

The information we collect as part of the application process (including the scanned image of your passport details page) and records relating to the ongoing administration of your photocard application will be retained for three years after the expiry date of your photocard. The information we collect as part of your web account will be retained three years after the expiry date of the most recent photocard on your account. Details of debit or credit cards used to pay the admin fee when you apply for your 18+ Student photo card, or to add pay as you go credit or buy season tickets are retained for a maximum of 18 months.

Call recordings made when you contact Customer Services are kept for 6 months.

Keeping personal information secure

We take the privacy of our customers very seriously, and a range of robust policies, processes and technical measures are in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, personal information associated with Oyster data. This includes payment card data which is handled in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ('PCI DSS').

Anyone with access to personal information held in TfL's systems is required to complete TfL's privacy and data protection training on an annual basis.

We also publish guidance on the steps you can also take to protect your personal information.

Automated processing and profiling

Under data protection legislation we have to let you know when we use your personal information to do something 'automatically' using our computers or other systems, or make an automated decision (without human intervention) that significantly affects you.

If you are a pay as you go customer, TfL calculates the fares you are charged using automated means - ie using the location where you start your journey (touch in) and, if travelling by train or tube, end your journey (touch out). If you use a pink card reader, that data will be used to confirm you took a particular route and charge you accordingly.

On some occasions, TfL may 'auto complete' a journey for you if you do not tap your Oyster card on a yellow reader at both ends of your journey. We do this by looking at other journeys you have made previously and making an assumption about the likely origin or destination of the incomplete journey.

If you are due a refund as a result of TfL auto completing your journey (eg if you were originally charged a maximum single fare), we will also automatically load the refund amount to your Oyster card.

We may also proactively issue you a refund if we can see from your journey history that you have been affected by a major disruption or incident that has severely impacted your travel.

If you believe you have been incorrectly charged, or not received a refund you were due, you can ask Customer Services to review those transactions.

We sometimes use your journey history, travel patterns, or frequently used stations as the basis for sending service messages. For example if you regularly use the Central Line, we might use this information to help decide that messages about service alterations on that line would be helpful for you know. We may also use this information to send you relevant surveys from time to time.

Similarly, we may use postcode information to decide that it would be useful for you to know about changes to travel services near where you live, such as a station or bus stop closure or a road closure or diversions.

The purpose of this type of profiling is to make sure that we send only information to people who will actually find it relevant and useful. You are able to opt out from receiving these kinds of messages at any time.

We analyse application data, journey patterns and transaction history to inform measures to protect TfL against fare evasion and fraudulent transactions. We use this data in different ways, including identifying 'hotspots' so we can deploy Revenue Inspectors in certain London Underground stations or on particular bus routes.

We may also use the outcome of our analysis to contact you with advice to touch in and out at the correct stages of a journey.

We may also suspend or withdraw concessionary Oyster cards based on eligibility concerns, purchases or subsequent top ups and disable web accounts based on online activities.

Part of our statutory responsibilities includes a duty to do all we reasonably can to reduce crime and disorder on and around the transport system - and we work together with our local authority, policing, and other law enforcement partners as part of this.

We may use aggregated or depersonalised Oyster journey data to undertake intelligence, analysis and research activities to identify and inform responses to a number of issues including:

  • Reducing all crime and anti-social behaviour on and around the public transport network
  • Creating crime and anti social behaviour strategies
  • Targeting crime and disruption hotspots to better coordinate and deploy policing resources
  • Reducing fear of crime and improving public confidence in the safety of the journeys they make in the capital

Sharing personal information

TfL uses an external service provider to process your application, issue your photo card and operate the photo card scheme on a day to day basis, including some Customer Services support. TfL also uses external service providers to operate 'back office' technical services and customer database management.

Your named educational establishment is able to view the relevant parts of your application online and will authorise it by confirming to TfL that you are enrolled on an eligible course. If we have subsequent concerns about your ongoing eligibility for an 18+ Student Oyster card, we may contact your educational establishment to help verify this.

If you use your 18+ Student Oyster photocard on National Rail services, TfL may share your personal data with the relevant train operating companies for the purposes of customer administration and fraud prevention and detection. The same applies if you use your Oyster card on river services operated by other companies.

Where you have agreed to receive marketing messages from train operating companies, we will pass them your contact details.

If you appeal against a penalty fare notice issued on a National Rail service and you state that you used your Oyster card for that journey, the independent appeals body may verify the information you provide against journey data held in our ticketing systems. This is strictly for the purpose of assessing your appeal, and any information sharing is managed in accordance with relevant privacy and data protection legislation.

We have partnerships with a number of academic institutions in the UK and overseas (e.g. USA), who work with us to analyse journey patterns and undertake travel modelling to help us understand the way our customers travel so we can improve and plan our services for the future.

To do this we provide them with journey data derived from our Oyster ticketing systems that has been processed, replacing data, where required, with alternative identifiers (pseudonyms) so that it isn't possible to identify an individual customer.

All academic research is carried out in accordance with privacy and data protection legislation and protected by robust confidentiality agreements.

In some circumstances, disclosures of personal data to the police (and other law enforcement agencies) are permitted by data protection legislation if they relate to the prevention or detection of crime and/or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders. Before any such disclosure takes place, the police are required to demonstrate that the personal data concerned will assist them in this respect. Each police request to TfL is dealt with on a strictly case-by-case basis to ensure that any such disclosure is lawful and in accordance with data protection legislation.

TfL may also receive or disclose personal information about customers in relation to certain emergency situations or other incidents that require an immediate response. Such events may include those involving public health, public safety or national security matters, when access to personal information is necessary to manage the incident. In some situations, we may also be required by law to disclose your personal data to the police or other enforcement, regulatory or Government body, upon a valid request to do so. These requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and take into account privacy considerations before a disclosure is made.

Overseas processing

TfL, its service providers and academic research partners currently process personal information relating to Oyster within the United Kingdom, European Economic Area (EEA) and the USA. Any such processing is subject to appropriate contractual safeguards and carried out in accordance with the requirements of UK and EU privacy legislation.

Team London volunteering

When you apply for your 18+ Student Oyster card, we will give you information about the Team London volunteering scheme run by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

If you choose to receive further information about Team London, TfL will pass your name to the GLA so that they can send you newsletters about volunteering opportunities. You can opt out from receiving this information at the time you make your 18+ Student Oyster application. If you wish to unsubscribe from receiving the newsletters at a later date, you will need to do this via the GLA.

Further information about how the GLA will handle your personal data can be found on the Team London website.

Your information rights

You can see your journey history by signing into your web account or you can request a copy by calling Customer Services.

You can also view and update the contact information we hold about you within your account; as well as your contact preferences.

If you would like to close your Oyster Photocard account (used to make your application) or your Oyster web account, you should contact Customer Services or contact our Privacy and Data Protection team.

For access to other personal information please see Subject Access requests in Access your data.

If you would like to unsubscribe from service or marketing messages, please use the link we include at the end of the message or email unsubscribe@tfl.gov.uk at any time.

You also have a number of other information rights which include:

  • The right to question any information we have about you that you think is wrong or incomplete
  • The right to object to how we use your data or to ask us to delete or restrict how we use it
  • The right to complain to the regulator - the Information Commissioner's Office

The TfL Privacy and Data Protection team considers and coordinates responses to requests and complaints from people whose personal data is processed by TfL and its subsidiary companies.

You can contact the Data Protection Officer by email at dpo@tfl.gov.uk or by writing to:

Changes to this page

It's likely that we'll need to update this statement from time to time, so check back here regularly to find out more. This page was last updated in May 2024, with an update to the section discussing the length of time we keep your information.