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The Blue Badge Scheme - What You Need To Know

What is the Blue Badge scheme?

The purpose of the Blue Badge parking scheme is to allow disabled people to park close to the facilities and services that they need and wish to use. Blue Badge holders are allowed to park in places where other drivers cannot. For example, they may usually park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours in England and Wales and without any time limit in Scotland. Blue Badge holders can also often park free of charge. However, note that private roads and off-street car parks may charge unless they have special reserved places. It's important to note that certain boroughs in London may also operate differently.

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Who is eligible for a Blue Badge?

The specific criteria used to assess eligibility are as follows. If any of the below apply, you must provide evidence in the application form, along with proof of your identity and residency. You will not, however, have to visit your local authority in person to attend a mobility assessment. You are automatically eligible if you:

  • Get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and scored 8 points or more in the 'moving around' activity
  • Get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and scored 10 points for Descriptor E under the 'planning and following journeys' activity
  • You have either a Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) or a BD8 form, signed by a consultant ophthalmologist, stating that you are severely sight impaired (blind) and wish to be registered as severely sight impaired (blind) with your local authority.
  • Receive a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement

Criteria requiring further assessment:

In the following instances, you may be eligible, but will have to first attend a mobility assessment:

  • You are over the age of two and have a permanent and substantial disability which means that you are unable to walk
  • You are over the age of two and have a permanent and substantial disability which means that you have very considerable difficulty walking
  • You are under the age of three and have a medical condition that means you must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment
  • You are under the age of three and have a medical condition that means you must always be kept near a vehicle in case you need urgent medical treatment
  • You have a severe disability in both arms and drive regularly, but you can't operate parking machines
  • You have a terminal illness, which means you can't walk or find walking difficult, and you have a DS1500 form
  • You can't walk at all, or you can't walk without help from someone else or using mobility aids
  • You have any score other than 10 points under descriptor E in the 'planning and following journeys' activity of PIP
  • You are always a significant risk to yourself or other people when you're near vehicles, in traffic, or in car parks
  • You often become extremely anxious or fearful of public or open spaces

For any other examples, please visit Gov.uk.

What does it cost?

Local authorities can charge a maximum of £10 to issue a badge. In Scotland, local authorities have the discretion to charge up to £20. In Wales it is free.

How to apply for a Blue Badge

You can apply for a Blue Badge online or contact your local authority for a paper version of the application form.

We would advise not to apply for a Blue Badge elsewhere, as other organisations offering a Blue Badge are likely to not be legitimate.

When you apply for your Blue Badge you will need to provide the following:

  • The details of your existing Blue Badge (if you have one)
  • Your National Insurance number
  • A digital or signed photo
  • Proof of where you reside - such as a recent utility bill within the last three months, a recent council tax bill, driving licence, or a recent government letter
  • Proof of your identity - such as a birth or adoption certificate, marriage or civil partnership certificate, passport or ID card, driving licence.
  • A Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) if relevant
  • The decision letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirming your eligibility (if you have one). You can ask them for a replacement if you need one

If you apply online, it's best to make sure you have the above to hand before you commence with the application.

If you apply using a paper form, send copies of the documents, not the originals, as you don't want them to get lost.

You will typically have to allow for up to three months to allow for your application to be processed, although this is dependent on your local council and whether you need to be assessed. You can call them to find out how long the application will take.

The contact details of your local council can be found at www.gov.uk/find-local-council.

Your application may be processed quicker if you have a terminal illness.

If you are turned down for a Blue Badge

If your application is unsuccessful there is no formal right of appeal against the decision. Your local council will explain in writing why they turned down your application.

However, some authorities do offer the opportunity to appeal or ask for a review. Even if there is not a process in place you can always ask for the decision to be reconsidered. It's worth doing this if you can't walk more than 80 metres, or you can't use a parking meter, because of problems with your arms.

When submitting your request to your council to overturn their decision, explain in your letter the reasons they listed are wrong as well as detailing any information you missed the first time around.

Try to provide any copies, photographs, or scans of any evidence to support your claims, for example:

  • Proof of your identity with your picture on it, such as a passport - if your council doesn't believe you're the person you say you are
  • A letter from your doctor, physiotherapist, or another medical expert

Where can you use a Blue Badge?

The Blue Badge is linked to you rather than a vehicle, so you can use it with any car. This includes taxis and hire cars that you are driving or travelling in as a passenger.

There are many rules regarding parking with blue badges and this is only to be used as a guide, not a definitive list.

Where you can park

  • Parking free of charge and without time limit at parking meters on-street and "pay and display" on-street parking. In some instances, exemptions from time limits imposed on other users.
  • Scotland - Parking on single or double yellow lines without any time limit, providing that no obstruction is caused.
  • England and Wales - Parking on single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours, providing that no obstruction is caused.
  • Parking in greenways out-with times of operation.
  • You should make every attempt to park in marked disabled bays, on-street parking bays, or where there are no restrictions, with parking on single or double yellow lines only utilised as a last resort.

Parking restrictions

  • In Scotland and Northern Ireland, there is no time restriction on parking for badge holders, unless local restrictions apply.
  • In England and Wales, you will need a parking clock which must be displayed every time you park on yellow lines or in other places where there is a time restriction. The clock should be set to show the time of arrival.
  • Badge holders living in Scotland who intend to visit England or Wales should apply to their council for the loan of a parking clock which can be used for the duration of their stay.

Where you cannot you a Blue Badge for parking

  • Places where a ban on loading is in force, normally indicated by one or two yellow marks on the kerb. Roadside signs display times of operation for loading bays; some allow specific time limits for badge holders.
  • Parking places reserved for specific users such as resident's bays. Always check whether badge holders are exempt from these restrictions.
  • Pedestrian crossings (including zebra, pelican, toucan, and puffin crossings), including areas marked with zigzag lines.
  • Clearways (no stopping).
  • A bus stop during hours of operation.
  • Double or single red lines during their hours of operation.
  • An urban clearway within its hours of operation. You may pick up or drop off passengers. All parking is forbidden.
  • School "KEEP CLEAR" markings during the hours shown on the yellow no-stopping plate.
  • Bus, tram, or cycle lanes or cycle tracks. Badge holders are not entitled to drive in bus lanes during their hours of operation.
  • Where there are double white lines in the centre of the road (even if one of the lines is broken).
  • Suspended meter bays or when the use of the meter is not allowed.
  • Where temporary parking restrictions are in force along a length of the road, e.g. as indicated by no-waiting cones.

When parking using your Blue Badge, it is important to park carefully, for example, when parking on single or double yellow lines, avoid parking your vehicle where it could hold up traffic or cause an obstruction.

However, some local authorities place additional restrictions on Blue Bader holders, so it's always worth contacting the local authority of the area you're travelling to and check what their rules are.

To find Blue Badge parking bays across the UK, check Gov.uk

You should also note that the Blue Badge parking rules are different in the London boroughs of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Camden, and the City of London. Please see the section directly below for more information.

Can someone else use my Blue Badge for parking?

You can only let someone else use your badge if:

  • You are in the car with them.
  • They are picking you up or dropping you off, and they need to park close to where you need to go.

If someone else is driving you, you must let them know the rules, otherwise, the council can ask for your badge back.

Displaying your Blue Badge

You must display the whole of the Blue Badge face up so it's showing the wheelchair symbol on your windscreen. Take care to ensure the expiry date is not obscured, as some Blue Badge holders have been unfortunate to receive parking tickets due to the Blue Badge expiry date being partially covered.

It's also worth checking if the car park you're using has a maximum time limit for their disabled parking bays, and some handout disabled parking disks when you enter. These require you to adjust the disk until it shows your time of arrival. If you do receive a parking disk, you must make sure it does not cover your Blue Badge when you place it on your windscreen.

Where can you use a Blue Badge in London?

There are different rules regarding the use of the Blue Badge in the four London Boroughs detailed below. Each borough runs its own Blue Badge schemes for residents or those who work in the borough.

Blue Badge holders can park in:

  • In designated Blue Badge bays
  • At a meter, Pay and Display bays and Pay by Phone bays (BB holders will get an additional hour of free parking added to the time for which payment has been made)
  • On single yellow lines ONLY in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as long as there is no loading or unloading restriction and only for 20 minutes to drop off or pick up a disabled person, or to collect goods.

Blue Badge holders cannot park in:

  • Red routes or double yellow lines (in all four boroughs)
  • Single yellow line (except Kensington and Chelsea as long as there is no loading or unloading restriction and only for 20 minutes to drop off or pick up a disabled person, or to collect goods)
  • Resident's parking bays
  • Personalised disabled bays
  • Suspended parking bays
  • Specific bays - for example, doctor, taxi, etc.

Please remember that these restrictions apply on top of the usual Blue Badge parking restrictions.

Red Routes

  • There is no exemption for Blue Badge holders during the operating hours of Red Routes.
  • There are bays set aside for parking for Blue Badge holders, but they may only operate during certain times.
  • Red bays indicate that parking or loading is only permitted during off-peak times.
  • White bays indicate that parking and loading is permitted at any time.

Remember to always check signs. Rules and conditions on parking in London are notoriously prone to change.

Can I use my UK Blue Badge in Europe?

You can use your Blue Badge when travelling in certain countries within the EU as well as Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

For more information, please visit https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/transport-disability/parking-card-disabilities-people/index_en.htm.

You can also check with the embassy of the country you are travelling to, just in case of any recent developments.

Disabled parking bays

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Not all disabled parking bays look the same - but they tend to share common features. Typically, there will be a white sign nearby with two blue squares on it: one with a white parking 'P' symbol inside and the other with a white standardised image of a wheelchair user. In most instances, disabled parking spaces are wider than normal standard spaces, as it makes it easier for Blue Badge holders to exit or enter their vehicles.

The standardised image of a wheelchair user is usually painted in the middle of disabled bays. The bays themselves are normally painted in a different colour to standard parking spaces. The lines used to mark them out are often painted yellow (and occasionally blue), and most of them also have diagonal lines which cross one another.

In private car parks, you will often find Blue Badge parking spaces located nearer to the entrance of the destination building.

Blue Badge holders can also contact their local authority to ask them to paint a disabled parking bay outside of their home. If the council proceeds with this, they will typically paint broken white lines to mark out the bay, along with the word 'DISABLED'.

How do I report Blue Badge misuse?

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Disabled spaces are vital and enable members of the public to do things that they just would not be able to do otherwise. They are designed to reduce the distance between the parking facilities and the entrance to the establishment in question. Disabled parking bays are also usually broader in size - something that makes a world of difference to a disabled motorist (or passenger) who needs space to assemble a wheelchair.

There are over 10 million people in the UK who are registered as disabled - that is just short of 1 in 7 people. So, the chances of someone having a disability and a Blue Badge is fairly high. A lot of disabled people will use a wheelchair-accessible vehicle as their main method of transport, mainly because of the inherent difficulties in using public transport. Therefore, it's so important that all disabled parking bays should only ever be used by Blue Badge holders.

It is never ok for a driver without a Blue Badge to park in a disabled bay in a private or public car park. It doesn't matter whether the driver is in a rush and will only be in the space for a few minutes, or whether it's laziness or if they want the larger space to avoid their new vehicle getting damaged. If you see someone misusing a council-owned Blue Badge bay, you should report it to your local authority. Some local authorities will have their own form, others might have an email address. You can find your local authority's contact details via www.gov.uk.

Try to include as much information as possible, such as:

  • The vehicle registration
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • How often you've seen the vehicle in a Blue Badge holder's parking bay
  • A photograph of the vehicle in the space

If you see a Blue Badge parking bay being misused in a supermarket you can't report it to the local authority as the car parks are privately owned. You should report the issue to either the Store Manager or their customer service team.

What happens if I break the Blue Badge rules?

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You can still get a parking fine when you are using your badge.

If you abuse your badge on purpose you could be fined up to £1000, for example, if you:

  • Hand it to someone else to use if they are not your driver.
  • Keep using your badge when it is no longer needed.
  • Use your badge to park if you are just waiting, and do not plan to leave your vehicle.

If someone else is driving you, it is important to let them know the rules, because if they don't follow them, the council can take your Blue Badge away.

Are Blue Badge holders exempt from the London congestion charge?

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If you have a Blue Badge or you are using a vehicle that is 100% exempt from paying road tax (classed in a disabled class) you do not have to pay the London congestion charge.

A disabled person using a vehicle exempt from paying road tax does not need to register. The number plate will be automatically recognised by cameras in the Congestion Charging Zone.

To register, phone 0343 222 2222, or download a form from www.cclondon.com.