What is the Blue Badge scheme?
A Blue Badge provides parking concessions for people with disabilities, allowing them (or whoever is driving with them) to park closer to shopping centres and other destinations. You can use the permit in any vehicle, as long as the badge holder is present (whether driving or being driven). It isn’t assigned to a specific vehicle.
The scheme was introduced in 2000 to help people who have severe difficulty walking, by improving accessibility. As of March 2019, 2.3m Blue Badges were held in England - that's 4.1% of the population.
You can apply for yourself, someone else or an organisation.
How much does a Blue Badge cost?
In England and Northern Ireland, there’s a maximum charge of £10. In Scotland, it can cost up to £20 and in Wales it’s free.
Blue Badge holders in London can get full exemption from paying the congestion charge (although, there is a £10 administration fee for an application). For more information, check out the Transport for London’s Transport for London’s discounts and exemptions page and scroll down to the ‘Blue Badge holders’ section.
Blue Badge eligibility
Eligibility for a Blue Badge comes in two forms. Some people are automatically eligible for a badge. For other conditions, you may be eligible but will need to complete an assessment process through the local council.
You are automatically entitled to receive a Blue Badge if you’re registered as blind or receive any of the following benefits.
- The mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the higher rate (for under 65s).
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with a score of 8 or above in the ‘moving around’ section of the assessment (you’ll be asked to provide a duplicate of your entitlement letter with a date within the past 12 months).
- A lump-sum War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement payment (at tariffs 1 to 8) after being certified as having a serious disability, which means you are unable or find it very difficult, to walk.
What if you aren’t automatically eligible?
There are other cases where you may also be eligible for a badge, such as if you:
- cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to your health or safety or that of any other person
- cannot undertake a journey without it causing you very considerable psychological distress
- have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)
- have a permanent disability that prevents you from using parking meters.
More details of who may be eligible are available on the gov.uk website.
You or the person supporting you will need to fill in an extra part of the application form to demonstrate why you need the permit. If possible, get a letter from your GP or consultant as evidence.
If you have any further questions about eligibility, or you’d like to discuss an application in advance, you can contact your local council. Bear in mind, it may take 12 weeks or longer to assess your application. If they decide that you are not eligible and you think that they did not take account of all the facts, you can ask them to consider your application again.
The Blue Badge and hidden disabilities
The Blue Badge scheme in England has now been extended to include people with non-visible disabilities, which will make it easier for people with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, autism, epilepsy and arthritis to qualify.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government has extended the Blue Badge scheme to include people with cognitive impairments. This makes it easier for people with dementia, autism and Down’s syndrome to be successful in their application for a Blue Badge.
In Wales, applicants over the age of 65 must be able to confirm they have a diagnosis of a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. They will need to show evidence that because of their cognitive impairment, the person is unable to plan and follow any journey. This includes attending a memory clinic or a letter from a relevant health specialist confirming they require supervision for all journeys beyond that which is normally expected of a person of their age.
In Northern Ireland, cognitive impairment or hidden disabilities aren’t included in the Blue Badge eligibility criteria.
How to get a Blue Badge
For guidance on how to apply for a Blue Badge read our article on the application process. This includes tips on how to fill in the form and how to renew an existing badge.
How do I use my Blue Badge?
When you receive a Blue Badge, it should come with supporting documentation explaining how to use it. This document is also available for download on the gov.uk website.
Display your Blue Badge clearly on the car’s dashboard. Make sure the side showing the hologram is visible, and the side with the photograph is facing down.
In some council districts, you’ll be required to display a parking clock (a cardboard dial you’ll receive with your Blue Badge, if applicable in your region). This is used to indicate your time of arrival when you leave your car on yellow lines or anywhere that time restrictions apply.
Where can I park with a Blue Badge?
Single and double yellow lines: you can park on yellow lines for up to three hours, although it’s worth noting that you can’t park on the yellow lines in off-street car parks.
On-street paid bays: you can park free of charge, and for as long as you need to, in areas where on-street parking meters or pay-and-display rules apply.
On-street disabled bays: similar to regular on-street bays, you can park here free or charge. These spaces will be demarcated by a disabled parking sign. In some areas, there may be time restrictions, in which case you need to display the blue parking clock to show your arrival time.
Do these disabled parking rules apply nationwide?
There are several places in England where different disabled-parking rules may apply, for example:
- some supermarkets, hospitals, local authority car parks, airports and towns with alternative local disabled-parking schemes
- London borough red routes, with single or double red lines
- private roads, where you need to get permission from the owner.
If you’re concerned, contact the local authority (or the relevant organisation or individual) before you travel to make sure you’re adhering to the rules in the area you intend to park in.
How do I find disabled parking spaces?
There are various online tools you can use to find disabled parking spaces. For example, BlueBadgeParking.com is a user-driven online map that allows you to search by postcode to find disabled spaces in any area. You can also contribute by adding any that aren’t already listed.
The Disabled Parking Accreditation scheme lists car parks that provide accessible facilities to meet disabled people’s needs.
The government website also provides information about how to find parking spaces if you have a Blue Badge.
How do I change the details on my Blue Badge?
You can use the gov.uk Blue Badge change of details form to update information (for example, name or home address). There will be a £10 fee, and the Blue Badge holder is allowed to continue using the existing badge until they receive the new one.
What do I do if my Blue Badge is lost or stolen?
The first thing to do is inform your local council to apply for a replacement. You can use gov.uk’s lost badge form.
If your badge has been stolen, contact the police immediately to report the incident. You can call 101 or contact your local neighbourhood policing team. You’ll need to get a crime reference number before you contact your local council, and once you have that you can use it to fill in the lost badge form to apply for a replacement.
Up-to-date advice and information from Which? to help older people stay safe during the coronavirus crisis.
How to apply for a Blue Badge. How to fill in the form or renew a badge, and what to do if your application is refused.
We explain the options for getting a wheelchair, from the NHS service and rental options to buying one privately.