Incomplete journeys

What is an incomplete journey?

When you use pay as you go, you need to touch in at the start and touch out at the end of all Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Thames Clippers River Bus services and National Rail journeys. If you don't, we don't know where you've travelled, so we can't charge the right fare for your journey. We call this an 'incomplete journey' and you could be charged a maximum fare. If you don't touch in at the start of a journey, you're also liable to pay a Penalty fare or you could be prosecuted.

A maximum fare can be as much as £8.90 per rail journey (or up to £14.00 for an incomplete journey to/from Gatwick Airport) and does not count towards a daily cap.

When you use pay as you go to travel on Thames Clippers River Bus services, only touch in at the start of your journey when instructed to do so by a member of staff and remember to touch out again at the end. If you don't, you could be charged a maximum fare of up to £7.20 for an incomplete journey. 

Why do incomplete journeys happen?

You can get an incomplete journey if you don't touch in at the start, or touch out at the end, of your journey on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, National Rail services in London and on Thames Clippers River Bus services. You're more likely to do this if you're at an unfamiliar or busy station or pier, or if your journey's been disrupted. Other common reasons for not touching in and out are:

  • Not seeing the yellow card reader
  • Walking through an open gate 
  • Station evacuation 
  • Crowding or congestion

Always touch in and out, even if the gates are open

You should always touch in and out, even if the gates at stations are open. Where there are no gates you should use a freestanding yellow card reader. Freestanding yellow card readers are located at station entrances, exits and platforms. 

Changing trains

If you need to change stations during your journey, for example, when changing from Clapham North to Clapham High Street station, you will need to touch out at Clapham North station to exit and touch in at Clapham High Street station to continue your journey. You may also need to do this at different gates within the same station like at Waterloo, Victoria and Kings Cross.

If you're changing trains on the Tube, London Overground, TfL Rail or National Rail and not travelling through Zone 1, you could get a cheaper fare by touching a pink card reader with your Oyster card. Find out more about pink card readers.

Automatic completion of incomplete journeys

We recognise that there are times when you can't touch out as you leave a station, during a major sporting or entertainment event, for instance when we leave the gates open to help with congestion.

Did you know?

If your journey was delayed for reasons within our control by 15 minutes or more on a Tube or DLR service - or by 30 minutes or more on a London Overground or TfL Rail service - you might be able to get a refund. Find out more

We also know that people can sometimes forget to touch out. When this happens, we'll also attempt to complete your journey.

If you're due a refund when we automatically complete a journey, we will send your refund to the station you use most often. It loads on to your Oyster card automatically when you next touch your card on a yellow card reader, as you enter or leave the station.

Checking to see if you have an incomplete journey

If you think that you might have an incomplete journey on your Oyster card, you can check your journey history:

  • Online with a contactless and Oyster account. Find out more about contactless and Oyster accounts
  • At a Tube station ticket machine
  • By calling TfL Customer Services on 0343 222 1234 (TfL call charges)

You can see up to eight weeks of journey history with a contactless and Oyster online account.

Refunds on incomplete journeys

You can apply for a refund if you were charged a maximum fare because you couldn't touch in or out, for reasons beyond your control. You can do this:

At a Tube station

You can get an incomplete journey adjusted at a Tube station so you pay the right fare, but you should try to do this as soon as possible after making the incomplete journey.

Online

Sign up for a contactless and Oyster account and you may be able to apply online for a refund for an incomplete journey. Find out more about applying online for a refund.

By phone

You can call Customer Services on 0343 222 1234 (TfL call charges), although you must apply for a refund within 8 weeks of making the incomplete journey.

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