Wondering what are the new rules for a blue badge? We’ve got you covered.
Here, we take you through the most up-to-date information about how to use your blue badge, who’s eligible, and what a badge means for your car insurance.
What is a blue badge?
A disabled parking permit or “blue badge” helps people with disabilities and health conditions park closer to their destination in designated parking spaces.
If you (or someone you regularly drive with or for) have a disabled badge, it’s important to learn the blue badge parking rules and plan your journeys accordingly. Otherwise, you risk losing the badge and the independence it can give you.
Since the blue badge scheme was started in 1971, there haven’t been many changes to the rules and eligibility criteria. But in recent years, the government has taken steps to make the blue badge line up with certain disability benefits you might be entitled to.
Some of the most significant changes have been to the regulations about who can apply for a badge. The criteria have been updated to recognise that not all illnesses and disabilities are visible.
Where can I park with a blue badge?
If you have a blue badge, it’s important to recognise that it’s not simply a licence to park for free or wherever you feel like. But it does let you park or be dropped off closer to your destination. This means you can make the final part of your journey easier.
If you have a blue badge, this means you can park for free:
- On single or yellow double lines for up to three hours (using the parking clock that comes with your badge and with no return within one hour)
- In disabled parking spaces
- In local authority pay & display car parks
- In some private car parks at hospitals, airports, or shopping centre parking garages
Your local authority might also be able to designate a disabled parking space close to your home.
It’s always best to check before you set off, especially if you’re driving to a different local authority, as blue badges are issued by councils, and some of the rules differ across the country. For example, there are different schemes across the different boroughs of London, and, while some councils let blue badge holders park in ‘no loading’ zones, others would see this as a parking offence.
By the way, you can appeal the fine if you get a fixed penalty notice for stopping your vehicle in any of the places where a blue badge entitles you to park. You just need to prove you displayed your badge correctly: photo side down, visible through the windscreen, and undamaged. It’s also illegal to clamp a car with a disabled parking badge.
Remember: your blue badge is for you, not your vehicle.
Although people can display the badge if they’re driving you somewhere, like the shops or to a medical appointment, they can’t use any of your blue badge benefits if you’re not in the vehicle.
This means they can drop you off somewhere with a double yellow line, but they have to take the badge off the dashboard and park somewhere else. They also can’t use the badge if they’re running an errand on your behalf or coming to visit you and want to park close to your home.
What medical conditions qualify for a blue badge in the UK?
There isn’t a list of medical conditions that automatically qualify for a blue badge, although there are some disabilities that make blue badges very common. What’s more, it isn’t your doctor who decides if you should get a blue badge. Your application is assessed and granted by your local authority.
While medical records—including your prescriptions, diagnosis letters, appointments with specialists, and correspondence between your healthcare providers—can support your blue badge application, the council ultimately decides.
Your application is likely to be automatically accepted if:
- You’re legally blind
- You’re unable to walk because of your disability, pain, or breathlessness
- You have problems using your arms, especially if you’re unable to use a pay and display machine
- You have to travel with bulky medical equipment like a wheelchair or oxygen tank
- You care for a child who has to travel with bulky medical equipment
- You care for a child who has to be near a vehicle in case they need emergency medical treatment (for example, if they have a seizure)
If you have a terminal illness and have been given a DS1500 form, you can also have your application fast-tracked, regardless of the illness. The application process can otherwise take 12 weeks or more.
And if you’re asking yourself, “what are the new rules for a blue badge?” one of the biggest changes in recent years is that more invisible illnesses and hidden disabilities now meet the eligibility criteria. If you have a condition that makes it difficult to plan or complete journeys, makes it stressful to be in crowded spaces, or means you have to stay close to a vehicle, you may be eligible to be assessed for a blue badge.
For example, the list of eligible conditions now includes:
- Stress or panic disorders
What benefits entitle you to a disabled parking badge?
While there aren’t many health conditions that qualify automatically for a disabled parking badge, some benefits you claim from the Department of Work and Pensions entitle you to disabled parking.
This is another of the new rules for the blue badge scheme. Changes were made to the criteria in 2019 to make it easier for people who receive benefits based on their mobility to get their disabled parking badge. Another blue badge benefit is the amount that local authorities are allowed to charge has been capped at £10 per badge to make the scheme as accessible as possible.
When you apply, you’ll need to upload or bring any certificates of entitlement or letters you’ve received from the DWP to show you’re claiming one of the following benefits:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Specifically, you’ll be eligible for a blue badge if you claim under the ‘moving around’ or ‘planning and following journeys’ section of the Personal Independence Payment. The council will review your scores in these categories to assess your blue badge application.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Although the Disability Living Allowance is gradually being phased out in favour of PIP, some people still receive it. Part of the DLA is dependent on your mobility. If you receive this additional payment, you can get a disabled badge for your vehicle.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
If you can claim benefits through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme because of a long-term injury, or if you receive the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement, you’ll also be eligible for a blue badge.
New rules for using your blue badge abroad
After Brexit, UK citizens lost several rights when travelling to Europe. But while you may now find yourself with, for example, a hefty phone bill for using data roaming in mainland Europe, you’ll still be able to drive abroad as a blue badge holder.
Many countries in the EU (and also Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) still accept a UK blue badge as evidence that you’re allowed to park for free or use disabled parking spaces when you drive abroad.
However, the rules are still different in different countries. For example, you might have to display your badge along with a notice printed in the language of the country you’re visiting.
It always makes sense to check while you’re planning your trip.
Does a blue badge affect your car insurance?
However, organising your insurance might still be a little more challenging if you have a blue badge. While some insurers will give you a lower premium than abled drivers because you can park in places that are generally safer, others won’t insure cars with modifications like steering aids or hand controls. You might also need additional cover if your vehicle has a ramp or wheel clamps for a wheelchair.
You can contact Howden to get a quote for your motor insurance. We’ll take the time to find out about your needs and find a policy that’s right for you, saving money without compromising on the cover you need.
To recap: What are the new rules for getting a blue badge?
The blue badge scheme in the UK helps disabled people and those who care for them navigate towns and cities more easily. For it to continue, it’s vital that you know your rights and responsibilities when you’re using your blue badge, wherever you are in the country.
The biggest change in recent years is that people suffering from invisible illnesses and hidden disabilities are now eligible for a blue badge parking permit.
If you have any questions about whether your benefits or health condition entitles you to a disabled parking badge—especially if you have a condition that’s eligible for the first time— you can contact your local Citizens Advice office or local authority to find out how to apply.