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You are here: Home > Tickets & fares > The Key Smartcard

The Key Smartcard. Just Tap & Go

Tickets just got a whole lot smarter. The Key Smartcard is the hassle-free, paperless and speedy way to buy and use your train ticket.



A faster way to buy and use tickets. No more queues or waiting for tickets to arrive. Just tap & go


The hassle-free way to get going. Buy and renew tickets online in advance and avoid the rush.


Say bye-bye to worn and torn paper tickets. A durable card that lasts and works tap after tap.


If your Key Smartcard is lost or stolen, we'll block it and replace it free of charge*

Get started with the key

Existing customers:

Log in to your account

Login here

New customers:

Create an account

Register here

Where can I use The Key Smartcard?

Your Key Smartcard can be used at all Southern stations for travel into London and back. To use the Key, you’ll need to start journeys and buy tickets outside London. For more information on where you can use your Key and where to buy and collect tickets, take a look at our map.

Network Map
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What Products Can I Add?

KeyGo: A new pay as you go top-up system - find out more about keyGo

Season tickets: Weekly, Monthly and Annual tickets for travel on trains.

Travelcard Season tickets: Weekly, Monthly, and Annual tickets for the London Underground, buses, trams, trains, and Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

Anytime Day Single and Day Return tickets: Can be added online or at a station.

Off-Peak Day tickets: Can be added online or at the station.

PlusBus tickets: For travel in Crawley and Brighton, excluding Newhaven and Seaford stations, PlusBus tickets can be added to your key as follows:

  • Weekly Season / Single and Return tickets: Buy from a self-service machine at the same time as you buy your train ticket. Just push the 'Add PlusBus' button before you confirm your order.
  • Weekly, Monthly or longer, and Annual Season tickets: Call Customer Services on 03451 27 29 20 from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm. Please note that you must have previously bought a Monthly or Annual ticket online before you call. If you have an existing Monthly or Annual season ticket you can call to buy Weekly PlusBus tickets.

How do I get and use The Key?

  1. Register online: We’ll need details such as address and contact information. If registering a child we’ll also need a passport-style photo of them.
  2. National Rail card: Although you don’t need a photo for your Key please ensure you carry your pink National Rail card when travelling. Visit any rail ticket office with a passport photo to get your free National Rail card.
  3. Confirmation email: You'll receive an email from us with details of your online account.
  4. Your Key arrives in the post: It will take between 3 to 5 working days from registering for The Key to arrive.
  5. Add tickets to Key: You can buy a ticket online then touch in at a Southern ticket gate outside London to load it on to your Key. Or you can add a ticket at a self-service machine at a station outside London.
  6. Load tickets: It takes up to 2 hours from buying a ticket online for it to be available to load on to your Key when you touch in at a card reader at a station.
  7. Review tickets and journeys: Log in to your account to check your ticket and journey history, and renew tickets before they run out or set up reminders before they do. You can also check when your tickets run out at a self-service ticket machine.

Get started with The Key

Existing customers:
Log in to your account

New customers:
Create an account

Got a question about The Key?

Read our FAQs

Please read the full terms and conditions of The Key Smartcard

* up to three times.