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11 November 2021

The Blue Badge scheme

A Blue Badge allows people with disabilities to park closer to their destination. Find out about eligibility, how to apply and how to use the permit.
W
Which?Editorial team

What is the Blue Badge scheme?

A Blue Badge provides parking concessions for people with disabilities, allowing them (or whoever is driving 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. It isn’t assigned to a specific vehicle.

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, visit the Transport for London discounts and exemptions page.

Who is eligible for a Blue Badge?

Eligibility for a Blue Badge comes in two forms.

  • Some people with a registered disability are automatically eligible for a badge.
  • For other conditions, you may be eligible but you will need to complete an assessment process through the local council.

Automatic eligibility 

You are automatically entitled to 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.
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with a score of 8 or above in the ‘moving around’ section of the assessment, or a score of 10 or above for descriptor E in the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity. (You’ll be asked to provide a copy of your entitlement letter dated within the past 12 months.)
  • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • A lump-sum payment (at tariffs 1 to 8) of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme 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?

Even if you don’t qualify automatically, there are other cases where you may also be eligible for a badge. For example, 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 considerable psychological distress
  • have very considerable difficulty when walking
  • have a permanent disability that prevents you from using parking meters.

A more detailed breakdown of eligibility criteria can be found 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, 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 reconsider your application.

The Blue Badge and hidden disabilities

In England, Scotland and Wales the Blue Badge scheme has been extended to include people with non-visible disabilities. This makes it easier for people with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, autism, epilepsy, Down’s syndrome and arthritis to qualify.

Applicants may need to provide an official diagnosis of a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. They will need to show evidence that their condition means they are unable to plan and follow any journey. 

In Northern Ireland, the relevant legislation has not yet been amended to include cognitive impairment or hidden disabilities in the Blue Badge eligibility criteria. However, if you are living with a condition of this kind it is still worth applying.

How to get a Blue Badge

You can apply for a Blue Badge for yourself, or a carer, family member or friend can apply for another person.

In England, you can apply:

  • Online: through the Gov.uk website’s Blue Badge application form.
  • By post: in most cases your local authority will either send you the application form or provide you with a PDF file, which you can print out, fill in and return by post.

In Wales, you can only apply online through Gov.uk.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, there are different rules. Visit the following pages to find out more about applying in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Your application should be processed and a decision made within 12 weeks (but some councils will complete the process sooner). You will then receive a letter confirming and explaining the decision. At this stage, the council may ask you to provide extra information, take part in a mobility assessment or meet with someone from the council to discuss your application.

If your application is successful, you’ll need to pay. Once payment is made, it usually takes five to 10 working days for your badge to arrive.

Filling in the Blue Badge application form

The application form takes around 45 minutes to complete online. But if you enter your email address you can save your application and return to complete it at a later date if you need to.

You should have the following documents and information to hand before you start your application:

  • identification – a passport, ID card, or birth or marriage certificate
  • a recent utility bill or other proof of address
  • a photograph or passport photo signed on the back (the photo used for your Blue Badge will usually need to match passport standards)
  • your driving licence (if applicable)
  • your National Insurance number
  • the name of your GP and the surgery’s address
  • proof of any benefits you get.

Explain your situation clearly and honestly: when filling in the form, make sure to explain how difficult the situation really is for you or the person you’re applying for. There is no need to minimise the challenges you face, and this approach will give you a better chance of having your application approved.

If you get stuck, seek support: make sure you check the Blue Badge section of your local council’s website and, if you can’t find the information you need, contact your local council directly for assistance.

What to do if your application is refused

You can dispute the decision. The council will provide you with a ‘decision letter’ detailing why your application was denied. You’ll need to respond, explaining why you think the reasons for denying your application are incorrect.

Sometimes, an application can be denied because you didn’t provide enough detail, or the application didn’t emphasise the severity of the challenges you face – in which case, this is the perfect opportunity to set the record straight.

Find out how to complain to your local council if you feel your application has been dismissed unfairly: Challenging a local authority decision

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). 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 of 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.


Find out your car rights – are you entitled to a repair, replacement or refund on your car? We can help you understand your rights.


How to 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 find disabled spaces in any area. You can also contribute by adding any spaces 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.

Blue Badge renewal

Your Blue Badge will be valid for a maximum of three years (unless you receive the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate, in which case it can be issued to cover a shorter period). You must apply for a renewal before the current badge expires. It is advisable to do this at least 12 weeks before the badge expires to allow time for processing.

Renewing a Blue Badge is similar to the initial application process. You can renew your Blue Badge online, or print out, fill in and return an application form by post (see the ‘How to get a Blue Badge’ section above for more information).

For a renewal, you’ll need to have the information printed on the front of your current Blue Badge, including the long ID number, the expiry date and the name of the local council. This is in addition to the key documents mentioned above.

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.