Oyster card

If you hold a concessionary Oyster card, please refer to the privacy page which applies to your scheme. If you use your contactless payment card (or other device) to travel please see our Contactless privacy page.

Personal information we hold

In most cases, registering your Oyster card details with us is optional. If you do register your Oyster card or add it to your online account, the personal information we will hold includes:

  • Title, name, address, email address, telephone number
  • Password/memorable information
  • 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
  • Supporting evidence collected in relation to some types of refunds

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

Legal basis for using your information

Under privacy and 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 cards, 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 topping up your pay as you go credit, or a season ticket
    • where you have created an online account or downloaded the app so we can provide additional services to you

Obtaining and using personal information

The personal information we hold is provided by you when you register your Oyster card using a paper form, or create an online account via our website or app.

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.  

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 on services on which Oyster cards are accepted.

If you sign up for an online account or complete a registration form and provide your email address, from time to time we will send you travel related information by email. These will be messages that are useful to know in relation to the products you have bought or services that you use, and 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
  • changes to terms and conditions of travel

We appreciate that you don't always want to be contacted in this way, so all our 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 (marketing messages) 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). These emails will include the ability to opt out of receiving future surveys.

There are some communications that we have to send you to fulfil our contractual obligations to you. These include emails regarding purchases or other financial transactions you've made (such as Auto top-up, pay as you go transactions or processing a refund) and important account updates where you have created an online account or downloaded the app.

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.

Choosing not to provide personal information

You can use your Oyster card to pay as you go at any time without providing your personal information to TfL. You can also add weekly and monthly season tickets to your Oyster card without needing to register your card or create an online account.

If you choose not to provide personal information to us, you will not be able to open an online account or get a refund if your card is lost or stolen. It may also delay or prevent us from offering other services to you such as the resolution of complaints or concerns.

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 Oyster card (including Freedom Passes) for eight weeks after the card is used. After eight weeks, the journey data in the ticketing system is disassociated from your card (ie pseudonymised). This eight-week period is considered reasonable to enable customers to verify or make enquiries concerning their journeys (for example, for refund purposes).

In certain limited cases, some data about individual journeys will be held for a longer period of time.  An example of this is where we hold data as evidence in relation to TfL's revenue protection function (including the issue of penalty fares and prosecutions for fare evasion).

Some journey information is also stored on the Oyster card itself; this comprises the last eight journeys and related charges, up to three season ticket products, (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).

We hold some summary data relating to journeys made using Freedom Passes which is held for a longer period than eight weeks after the card is used. This data does not show any individual journeys made on a specific date or time, but it shows the number of journeys taken over a month period, and for some cases, the stations travelled from and to during a particular month. This data is kept solely for the purpose of assessing the amount of money individual boroughs pay to TfL for the Freedom Pass scheme, it is not used to make any decisions directly about Freedom Pass holders.

IP addresses collected when you access your Oyster online account are retained for 13 months. This helps TfL monitor for things like online fraud, for example when people apply for online refunds.

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 analyse journey patterns and transaction history to inform measures to protect TfL against fare evasion and fraudulent transactions. We use this data in different ways. For example, to identify '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 Oyster card holders directly, with advice to touch in and out at the correct stages of a journey. In cases where we suspect fraud, we might invite you to attend a formal interview with us.

We may also suspend Oyster cards based on their initial purchases, subsequent top ups and disable online Oyster and contactless accounts based on online activities.

We also use your journey history, travel patterns, or frequently used stations as the basis for sending service and marketing 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.

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 has contracts with a number of third party service providers, who provide the majority of the administration and 'back office' services that ensure the efficient day-to-day operation of the Oyster card scheme. This includes the ticketing systems, some customer services and the customer relationship database.

If you use your Oyster card on National Rail services, we may share your personal data with the relevant train operating companies for the same purposes as TfL handles your data - that is customer services and administration, the provision of travel related information, customer research and fraud prevention. 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 (eg the 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 UK, the European Economic Area 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.

Using the ticketing app

If you download and use our mobile ticketing app, certain information may be collected automatically. This may include the type of mobile device you are using and its unique identifier (such as the device name or ID), Internet Protocol (IP) address, Media Access Control (MAC) address, and IMEI number.

We also use analytics (similar to cookies on websites) which are small files that capture data to help us improve the app's performance. We use them to collect information about your use of the app, such as what app content you access most frequently, or if you receive an error message when using the app.

If you opt in, we will also send you notifications via the app. You can change your mind at any time by amending the settings within your device.

Find out more in the ticketing app Terms and Conditions.

Your information rights

You can see your journey history by signing into your TfL online account, via the TfL Oyster App or you can request a copy by calling Customer Services on 0343 222 1234 (TfL call charges). You can also use your Oyster card to view your last eight journeys and the transaction details at ticket machines at Tube stations.

If you have an online account, you can also view and update the contact information we hold about you; as well as your contact preferences.

For access to other personal information held by TfL about you, please see our Access your data page on how to do this. If you would like to unsubscribe from service or marketing messages, please use the link we include at the end of every email. You can also update your contact preferences within your online account - or by emailing 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 coordinate 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.

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. Your continued use of the site will mean that you accept those revisions. This page was last updated in October 2022 with details added relating to surveys that may be emailed to you.