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Disabled parking permit

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Title: Disabled parking permit  
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Subject: Traffic enforcement camera, Disabled Motoring UK, Red route, Permit, State motorcyclists' rights organizations
Collection: Disability Rights, Parking Law
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Disabled parking permit

A sign requesting permits be displayed for a disabled parking place in Canberra, Australia.
An example of a disabled parking place.
A UK "Blue Badge" Disabled Parking Permit in a custom permit holder for motorcycles, beside the license plate.

A disabled parking permit, also known as a handicapped permit, disabled placard, disabled badge and "Blue Badge" in the European Union, is displayed upon parking a vehicle carrying a person whose mobility would be otherwise significantly impaired by one or more of age, illness, disability or infirmity. The permit allows exemption from street-parking charges in some places and is used to park within dedicated disabled parking spaces reserved for people who have satisfied requirements to receive the placard.


  • European Union 1
    • Denmark 1.1
    • Republic of Ireland 1.2
    • United Kingdom 1.3
      • England and Wales 1.3.1
      • Northern Ireland 1.3.2
      • Scotland 1.3.3
  • United States 2
    • New York 2.1
    • Abuse 2.2
  • Oceania 3
    • Australia 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

European Union

In the European Union (EU), a disabled parking permit allows partial or total exemption from charges or penalties associated with the parking of a motor vehicle used by a badge-holder, and shows entitlement to use of dedicated parking bays and off-street parking (where they are provided). The concession extends in some places to partial or total exemption from tolls or general prohibitions on where a vehicle can be driven. Since 2000, all general disabled parking permits in the EU have been standardised to a common style and blue colour, leading to the officially-used designation "Blue Badge".[1][2] A Blue Badge issued in one country of the EU is generally given equal recognition in others with various exceptions as described for the countries below.


A Disabled Person's Parking Disk (also known as a "Clock") is required in addition to a Blue Badge in some parking places.

Republic of Ireland

Disabled Persons' Parking Permits are issued by the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland; an application fee of 35 Euro is required.[3]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom (UK), this scheme of permits was originally introduced (using Orange Badges) by the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.

Badges are issued as a right if a person meets certain statutory requirements, most of which are associated with actually being in receipt of certain disability benefits from the national Social Security system; additionally, a local authority can make concessionary issues of badges to persons who have a permanent disability which does not fall directly within the more rigid statutory requirements but which seriously impairs their mobility.

General exceptions

The Great Britain (GB) Blue Badge scheme does not apply to parking away from public roads and local authority car parks, with the general concessions often not recognised at ports, airports and railway stations unless the operators have provided voluntary parking privileges.

Parking Maps

Until 2010 Directgov provided a service that covers country wide customised maps for Blue Badge Holders with different base colours reflecting councils policies on Blue Badge Holder's parking.[4] In addition to council policies this service also pin pointed the location of different features specific to disabled community. There are a few dedicated Blue Badge sat-navs available, mainly from the specialist sat-nav company Navevo. See BBNav publicity for a likely list of integral features.

Since the cessation of the directgov service maps have been provided by online services such as the crowd-sourced which also provides free Sat-nav downloads.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, Blue Badge holders are required (unless signs show otherwise) to display a Disabled Person's Parking Disc ("Clock") showing the time the vehicle was first parked so that a time limit can be enforced. Badge holders from elsewhere in the European Union will need to obtain a Clock (obtainable from their Issuing Office in the UK) to validate their badge otherwise the vehicle will be treated as if no badge were displayed.

Local differences in parking rules

In London, the volume of traffic has led to restrictions upon the national scheme in some areas with local colour schemes used to restrict standard concessions to local residents, for example the permits are green in Camden, white in Westminster, purple in Kensington and Chelsea, and red in the City of London. In these cities and boroughs special rules and parking spaces are provided for Blue Badge holders.

Similar local schemes operate in other large towns or cities in the UK, for example Norwich operates a 'green badge scheme'.

Northern Ireland

The standard scheme only generally applies to on-street parking and is outlined on the Roads Service Northern Ireland website.[5] A "White Badge" is required for access to Pedestrian Zones.


In Scotland, a local authority Parking Attendant (in addition to police and traffic wardens) has the power to inspect a Blue Badge; failure to allow this inspection is an offence. There are also proposals to extend the issue of badges to small children and a wider range of (temporarily or permanently) disabled people.

United States

Handicapped parking space at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

In the United States, reserved spaces are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.[6]

Disabled parking permits generally take the form of either specially marked license plates or a placard that hangs from the rear-view mirror. Plates are generally used for disabled drivers on their personal vehicle, while the portable placard can be moved from one vehicle to another with the disabled person, both when driving or when being transported by another driver.

The medical requirements to obtain a permit vary by state, but are usually confined to specific types of disabilities or conditions. These as a general rule include the use of any assistive device such as a wheelchair, crutches, or cane, as well as a missing leg or foot. Many states also include certain cardiovascular conditions, respiratory problems, and conditions that cause pain while ambulating or otherwise require the person to rest after walking a very short distance. About half of US states (26) include blindness as a disability that can obtain a placard (for use as a passenger) and 14 states include a missing or maimed hand. Four states include deafness, and two states (Virginia and New York) include mental illness or developmental disabilities.[7][8]

Most if not all states have blue permits for people with lasting or permanent disabilities, and temporary permits that are red or another color for short term conditions such as broken legs or recovering from surgery.

The availability of specially reserved parking spaces is regulated by both federal and state laws. Generally at least one space is available at any public parking location, with more being required based on the size of the parking lot and in some cases the type of location, such as a health care facility. Parking spaces reserved for the disabled are typically marked with the International Symbol of Access, though in practice, the design of the symbol varies widely.[9] Often, the parking space is delineated with blue lines instead of the white or yellow lines used elsewhere in the lot. Anyone parking in such reserved spaces must have their plate or mirror placard displayed, or else the car can be ticketed for illegal parking. In some major US cities, local law also allows such vehicles to park for free at city parking meters and also exempts from time limits on time parked. In the US states of Texas, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Utah, and Virginia, holders of a Disabled parking permit are exempt from parking meter fees. In some other states handicapped parking meters exist, which not only must be paid at the same rate as regular meters, but one will also be subject to receiving a violation ticket if a valid handicap license plate or placard is not displayed on the vehicle. Fraudulent use of another person's permit is heavily fined.

If traveling from other countries, requirements to obtain a parking permit vary from state to state. Some states will honour other country permits, while others require application as a visitor/tourist.[10]

New York

Parking for handicapped drivers in "No Parking" zones in New York City is limited to those with New York City-issued handicapped placards. No other handicap placards are recognized as valid for "No Parking" zones.[11]

Disabled drivers from outside New York City who possess state-issued handicap placards have claimed illegal discrimination and civil rights violations on the part of New York City. In 1991 a disabled elderly man from New Jersey was issued a ticket while parking in Brooklyn while displaying his New Jersey-issued handicap placard.[12] In 1997 a woman with multiple sclerosis using a wheelchair was similarly issued a ticket while parking in New York City for displaying a non-NYC issued handicap placard.[13] Both drivers maintain that failure to recognize non-NYC handicap placards is a violation of their civil rights.


The abuse and/or misuse of disabled parking permits has been identified as a major problem in the US, with some estimates indicating the majority seen on the street are used or obtained fraudulently.[14] The substantial privilege and convenience granted by a permit provides a major incentive to use one illegally or obtain one fraudulently, and medical privacy law often confounds attempts to identify truly disabled individuals from abuses.

Abuse most often occurs under the following circumstances:

  • A non-disabled driver using the vehicle, plate or placard of another person who is disabled without transporting that person. This often occurs with family members of disabled people.
  • Forging a physician's signature on the form submitted to the motor vehicle department.
  • Bribing a physician to submit the form for the motor vehicle department.
  • Feigning or exaggerating symptoms of a medical condition in order to convince a physician to submit the form.

A related issue is physician approval of permits for medical conditions that don't actually qualify under that jurisdiction's requirements. Often this is simply an error on the physician's part due to not fully understanding the law. A common example is cognitive, psychiatric, or developmental conditions (such as autism), which in all but two states do not qualify for a permit. Such permits are still legal and valid, and most recipients honestly believe they have a qualifying disability. The result is far more permits than existing parking spaces can usually support, which often leaves more severely disabled individuals without a place to park.

Disabled persons who hold parking permits but have invisible disabilities may be difficult to tell apart from fraudulent permit users. Some conditions which make a disabled parking permit necessary are invisible without medical training. An injury or illness which causes an individual to be unable to walk very far may not be obvious, and a prosthesis or healing injury may be hidden under clothing. On occasion, suspicion of fraud has led to hostility against legitimate permit holders.[15]



In Australia, disabled parking permits are provided under the Australian Disability Parking Scheme,[16] which was established in September 2010 to harmonise disability permits across Australia.[17] Disabled parking permits are applied for through state and territory organisations, and rules for eligibility differ among jurisdictions.[16]

See also


  1. ^ "Neuer Parkausweis für Behinderte (English: New parking card for disabled". FAHRLEHRERVERBAND Baden-Württemberg e.V. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "Parking card for people with disabilities in the European Union: conditions in the member states" (pdf). European Commission. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Disabled Person's Parking Card". Citizens Information Board. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Directgov Blue Badge map". Directgov. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Disabled Persons Badge Scheme for Northern Ireland".  
  6. ^ "4.6 Parking and Passenger Loading Zones". ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG). United States Access Board. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "Disabled Parking Placards or License Plates Application" ( 
  8. ^ "Application for a Parking Permit or License Plates, for Persons with Severe Disabilities" ( 
  9. ^ " (A gallery of handicapped parking symbols)". Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "How do I obtain a disabled parking permit in the USA?". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "NYC DOT". 
  12. ^ Hanley, Robert (5 June 1991). "New York Urged to Broaden Handicapped-Parking Rights". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Shoup, Donald. "Ending the Abuse of Disabled Parking Placards" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Invisible Disabilities Association (2004). "Looks Can be Deceiving". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Australian Disability Parking Scheme".  
  17. ^ "Mobility Parking Scheme".  

External links

  • - a worldwide, crowd-sourced map of disabled / handicap parking locations with SatNav downloads
  • Federation Internationale de l'Automobile - Information about disabled / handicap parking schemes around the world
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