Blue Badge scheme: eligibility, benefits, application process and renewals

People that suffer with mobility issues may be eligible for a Blue Badge. Read on to find out more about the Blue Badge scheme and its benefits

Plans for free blue badges

A Blue Badge is a parking permit issued to people with eligible disabilities. The scheme aims to help those with disabilities, or someone who is driving them, to park closer to their destination. 

Blue Badge holders can park without charges or time limits in on-street disabled parking bays and at on-street parking meters and pay and display machines. In addition, Blue Badge holders can park on yellow lines for up to three hours, unless a ban on loading or unloading is in force. These concessions do not apply to off-street car parks or private roads, however, and certain locations have specific rules preventing Blue Badge holders from parking on yellow lines.

People who receive certain benefits automatically qualify for a Blue Badge, though applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and you may be eligible for a Blue Badge even if you don’t meet the official criteria.

The Blue Badge application can be completed online, and you may be required to submit evidence of your disabilities. If your application is successful, the Blue Badge will last for three years. The Blue Badge will expire after this time, and holders will need to renew their Blue Badge and reapply if they wish to maintain their parking benefits.

Who can get a Blue Badge?

You automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if you:

• Receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance.

• Receive Personal Independence Payments for being unable to walk further than 50 metres.

• Are registered as blind.

• Receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement.

• Have received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1-8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability which causes an inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.

If you don’t automatically qualify for a Blue Badge, you may still be able to get one, but you will need to provide additional details explaining your case. This can include scans or copies of medical records detailing any disabilities.

People who may qualify for a Blue Badge include those who are more than two years old and have a permanent and substantial disability which causes an inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking. Those who drive a motor vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate - or have considerable difficulty using - parking meters can also qualify.

Parents of children under the age of three may apply for a Blue Badge for their child. Parents of children with a specific medical condition requiring them to be accompanied by bulky medical equipment that cannot be carried without great difficulty, or needs to be stored in a nearby vehicle in case of an emergency, will automatically qualify for a Blue Badge. 

As of August 2019, people with hidden disabilities are also eligible to apply for a Blue Badge. This includes those suffering from autism, dementia and mental health conditions such as stress and anxiety.

Organisations can apply for a Blue Badge if they both care for and transport disabled people who themselves meet the eligibility criteria.

What benefits can a Blue Badge holder get?

Blue Badge holders can park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, but generally not where there are existing restrictions on loading or unloading a vehicle - indicated by yellow kerb dashes or signs.

Blue Badge holders also have access to on-street disabled parking bays, marked by a blue wheelchair symbol, without a time limit, and at parking meters and pay-and-display machines for as long as necessary.

What are the rules for the Blue Badge?

If a ban on loading or unloading is in force, Blue Badge holders will not be eligible to park legally in these locations. Furthermore, Blue Badge concessions do not apply to off-street car parks or private roads. 

Private car parks, such as those found at supermarkets, hospitals or local council car parks, should provide accessible parking spaces and enforce Blue Badge rules. However, as these locations are often on private land, it is ultimately up to the car park’s owner to decide whether badge holders can park free of charge. 

A Blue Badge does not enable holders to park in locations where local parking schemes are in operation, such as in the City of London, the City of Westminster, the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, and parts of the London Borough of Camden. It is always worth checking whether you can park in a specific destination on the UK Government website before making a journey.  

Blue Badge holders cannot park in positions where they may endanger, inconvenience or obstruct pedestrians or other road users. This includes parking near school entrances, bus stops, near junctions in unauthorised parking spaces or in positions where they may hold up or inhibit the driving of other road users. 

You can only allow someone else to use your Blue Badge if you’re in the car with them or if the driver picks you up or drops you off close to your destination. Misusing a Blue Badge can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

How do I apply for a Blue Badge?

You can apply for a Blue Badge online through the UK Government website, or you can contact your local council directly to obtain a copy of the application form. You will be required to answer a series of questions and may have to submit details of your disability, including any supporting evidence. Your local authority will administer your Blue Badge if your application is successful.

Blue Badges are free of charge to successful applicants in Wales, though you will have to pay up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland.

What should I do if my application is refused?

Each council has a different review process for the Blue Badge scheme, and if your application is refused, you should receive a written explanation detailing the decision. 

You can ask for the decision to be reviewed by the council, and it may be worth submitting any details you missed the first time, such as scans and copies of medical records that may support your application. 

If you can’t walk more than 80 metres or can’t use the parking meter because of problems with your arms, it's certainly worth contesting the decision.

Renewing a Blue Badge

Blue badges do not automatically renew, so it is important to remember to reapply before yours expires. You can renew your badge online through the government website, where you will be required to provide a recent digital photograph of yourself, proof of your identity (such as a passport or driving licence), proof of your address and proof of any benefits you receive. You’ll also need to know your National Insurance number (if you have one) and the details of your current Blue Badge.

To apply for or renew a Blue Badge, click here to visit the the UK Government website.

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