Step 1: Check that you are eligible for free under-16 home to school transport


Summary of this step

You should check if your child is eligible for free home to school transport to their school before you apply for a place at the school. Your choice of school can affect your child's eligibility for free home to school transport.


You can check if your child may be able to get free home to school transport using the summary below.

For full eligibility details, including what counts as a qualifying school and how we measure the distance of the journey from your home to the school, you should also read our:

General eligibility

Children of statutory school age (aged 5-16) are eligible for free home to school transport if they live in Surrey and attend their nearest qualifying school and the shortest walking distance to the school (accompanied by an adult as necessary) is more than:

  • two miles if they're under eight years old
  • three miles if they're eight or older

Children in Reception who meet the eligibility criteria will not have transport arranged until they reach statutory school age, which is at the start of the term after they turn five years of age.

If you believe that there are extenuating circumstances that warrant your child being provided with transport before they turn five years of age, please complete the application form in Step 2 and provide supporting evidence of your case. Please see our Guide to parents on extenuating circumstances.

Eligibility for families on low income

If your child is entitled to free school meals or if you get the maximum Working Tax Credit then your child will be eligible for free home to school transport if they are either:

  • aged between 8 and 11 and attend their nearest qualifying school and it is more than two miles from their home by the shortest walking distance (accompanied by an adult as necessary).
  • aged between 11 and 16 and attend one of the three nearest qualifying schools and it is between two miles, as measured by the shortest walking distance, and six miles, as measured by the shortest road route, from their home.
  • aged between 11 and 16 and attend the nearest school to their home address which has been chosen on the basis of their religion or belief (not the nearest qualifying school) and it is between two miles, as measured by the shortest walking distance and fifteen miles, measured by the shortest road route.

Eligibility for children with special educational needs or a disability

Children with special educational needs or a disability may also qualify for free home to school transport if the home to school distance is under the relevant distance indicated above, but the child is unable to walk to school due to their special educational needs or disability, even when accompanied by a parent.

Things that affect eligibility for free school transport

Your nearest qualifying school

The nearest qualifying school is the nearest school, via road route, to the child's address which provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and to which the child could have gained a place.

Unless you are eligible for free home to school transport it is your responsibility as a parent to get your child to and from school. Keep this in mind when choosing a school to apply for.

  • If, when you apply for a mainstream school place you could apply for a nearer school which has vacancies, but choose not to, your child will not usually be eligible for free home to school transport to your chosen school.
  • If you apply for a school place at a school that is not your nearest, you will not be eligible for free transport unless your nearer schools are oversubscribed and would not have offered you a place. Exceptions may apply when your nearest school is out of county and your child attends their nearest Surrey school; if your child is entitled to transport to a secondary school on low income grounds; or if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and it has been accepted that the nearest school can't meet your child's needs.
  • If your child is granted transport to a school further away due to the lack of places at nearer schools, it does not mean that your younger children will also get transport to attend that school. This is because places may then be available at nearer schools for your younger children.
  • If your child has an EHCP and you exercise parental preference in choosing a school further away than the nearest qualifying school, the Council can name that school but state that this is not the nearest suitable school. Under this circumstance, your child will not be eligible for transport and you will take on all financial and practical responsibility of getting your child to and from school.
  • If your child is transferring to the junior stage of education, your nearest school with places may not necessarily be a junior school. You should also check any nearer all-through primary schools that have a published admissions number and normally admit children into Year 3.
  • When assessing which school is your nearest, we measure distance by shortest road route. If a different school is the nearest school by straight line distance, as defined in Surrey's admission arrangements for community and voluntary controlled schools, free home to school transport will also be provided to this school so long as the age and distance criteria are met.
  • When we determine your nearest qualifying school, we take into account schools both inside and outside the county boundary. Your nearest qualifying school may be outside the county of Surrey.
  • If the nearest qualifying school is determined to be outside of Surrey, but your child is attending the nearest Surrey school to your home address then, so long as both schools are over the statutory walking distance, transport would be provided.
  • If you are moving into the area, your nearest school will depend on the availability of school places at the time of your application.

Other factors

  1. Schools' admission criteria do not affect your eligibility for free home to school transport. For example, some schools give priority for a school place to children who are attending a feeder school, but this does not confer an automatic right to free home to school transport.
  2. We will consider the safety of the walking route when assessing transport eligibility. However not all roads and footpaths in Surrey will have been individually assessed for their safety. If you believe part of the assessed walking route to be unsafe and would otherwise be eligible for free home to school transport, you should provide details so the route can be reviewed.

If you are not eligible for free home to school transport

If your application for home to school transport has been unsuccessful you may be able to appeal the decision. Please see information on Appealing a home to school transport decision.

If your child is not eligible for free home to school transport then you may be able to purchase a concessionary seat on existing school transport, if one is available.

You may also want to consider options such as public transport or speak to the school to see if they run any schemes like a walking bus.

Children with a disability aged five and over who are living in Surrey may also be eligible for a free bus pass for disabled people. For further information please see eligibility and how to apply.


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