The Blue Badge parking scheme
The Blue Badge Scheme is an important service for people with severe mobility problems that enables badge holders to park close to where they need to go. The scheme operates throughout the UK, and is administered in Northern Ireland by TransportNI.
About the scheme
The concessions apply to on-street parking and include free use of parking meters and pay-and-display bays.
Badge holders may also be exempt from limits on parking times imposed on others and can park for up to three hours on single and double yellow lines so long as they are not causing an obstruction (except where there is a ban on loading or unloading or other restrictions).
While the scheme operates throughout the UK, there are small variations in its application in Northern Ireland.
Do you qualify?
You can get a badge if:
- you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
- you are registered blind
- you receive a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
- you have a permanent and substantial disability which means you cannot walk, or have very considerable difficulty walking - in this case your doctor may be asked to answer a series of questions to confirm your eligibility for a badge
- you drive a vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate, or have considerable difficulty operating, all or some types of parking meter
- children under the age of two, if they have a disability due to a medical condition and need to travel with bulky equipment, or to be close to a vehicle for emergency medical treatment, may be eligible for a badge
Organisations which care for people with disabilities and meet one of the above criteria may be eligible for a badge.
Once issued, a badge is normally valid for three years. However, if an applicant is granted a badge on the basis of a time-bounded award of DLA or a War Pension the badge validity will only last as long as the award.
Where the scheme applies
The badges can be used throughout the UK and while travelling abroad within the European Union (EU) and in some other European and non-European countries.
The Blue Badge scheme does not apply to off-street car parks, private roads or at most airports.
Apply for a Blue Badge
If you think you may be entitled to a Blue Badge you can request an application form from:Blue Badge Unit
- phone: 0300 200 7818
- fax: 028 6634 3730
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, you can complete an online application by visiting the TransportNI website at the following link.
You can also download an application form to apply.
Complete the application form and return it in the pre-addressed envelope provided. It will be returned to you if it is completed incorrectly. If information to support your application has to be requested you will be notified.
You will be informed if you are/are not entitled to a Badge within 20 working days of the date of receipt of your application. However, if information to support your application has to be requested it may take longer to issue a decision.
How much does it cost?
The fee is £2.00. Cheques or postal orders should be made payable to the Department for Regional Development. Cash should not be sent through the post.
The Blue Badge is a two-sided card with space for a photograph of the badge holder on the back. Your application should therefore be accompanied by two recent photographs, which you should sign on the back.
You may send passport-type photographs taken at a self-service booth or pharmacist or any suitable photographs cut down to passport photograph size.
Do I need to send anything else?
If you answer 'yes' to any of the questions in Part B of the application form, you must provide the appropriate certificate or letter of award/letter of confirmation.
Misuse of parking bays for people with disabilities
Blue Badge parking bays
It is an offence to park a vehicle in a Blue Badge parking bay, without displaying a Blue Badge. If you see this happening you should report it to a traffic attendant or the local police.
Police officers and traffic attendants have the right to inspect Blue Badges. It is an offence to refuse or fail to produce a badge for inspection, without reasonable excuse. This offence carries a maximum fine of £1,000.
'Off-street' parking bays for people with disabilities
Most parking bays for people with disabilities in off-street car parks (for example, supermarket car parks) are not covered by Blue Badge scheme regulations. Car parks and parking bays like these are likely to be privately owned and managed by the individual business.
The agreement -and any cost to use them - will be between the owner and the motorists/customers.
If you are a motorist with disabilities (or passenger) and you complain, for example, to a supermarket that a motorist without disabilities has parked in a bay for people with disabilities, an employee of the store could ask the driver to move their car from the bay, but they will not be in a position to legally insist on it.
If you think that people are unfairly parking in bays for people with disabilities, speak or write to the management of the store or car park.
The government (Department for Regional Development) supports the Baywatch Campaign - a partnership between several major supermarkets and disability organisations - including the Disabled Drivers' Association. The campaign aims to end the abuse of parking bays put aside for the use of drivers with disabilities.
Misuse of the Blue Badge
Your badge can be withdrawn if the badge holder misuses it, for example, by allowing other people to use it or if a person's disability improves so that they are no longer eligible for the scheme.
If you are a badge holder, it can only be used for your benefit. If a trip is for someone else and you are a passenger and staying in the vehicle, you cannot use the badge simply to let them benefit from free parking.
Blue Badges need to be properly issued and displayed. It is an offence for a person other than the badge holder to take advantage of the parking concessions under the scheme.
Misuse of the badge itself by a person without disabilities is an offence. The maximum fine if someone is convicted is £1,000, plus any additional penalty for the related parking offence.