Blue badge scheme: who is eligible and how can you apply?

Blue badge scheme: who is eligible and how can you apply?

The blue badge parking scheme in England has been extended in recent years to include people with hidden disabilities.

Those with conditions such as dementia, anxiety disorders or brain injuries can now apply for a badge to help them travel to work, socialise and access shops and services.

The changes marked the biggest shake-up to the scheme since it was introduced nearly 50 years ago, and means holders can park free of charge in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines, while in London they are exempted from the congestion charge. There are limited exemptions for the ULEZ charge until 2025.

Here's everything you need to know about the changes.

Pay and display bays are free for blue badge holders (PA)
Pay and display bays are free for blue badge holders (PA)

What are the changes to the blue badge scheme?

The Department for Transport (DfT) has extended the criteria to include people who cannot walk without considerable psychological distress or risking serious harm.

This means people who find walking longer distances difficult, such as those with autism, dementia, Parkinson's and arthritis, can park closer to their destination without time limits or charges in pay and display bays.

Where can you park with a blue badge?

The badge is linked to you and not your vehicle, meaning that if you swap cars you can still use your badge, and this includes taxis you are travelling in.

While the rules differ between councils, the standard rules are that with a blue badge you can park:

  • On streets with parking meters or pay and display machines without having to pay

  • On streets with disabled parking bays without charge or time limits, unless a sign says otherwise

  • On single and double yellow lines for up to three hours, unless there is a sign saying “no loading”

However, these don't apply to off-street car parks or private roads. It is a criminal offence to use someone else's badge and it could land you with a £1,000 fine.

Your badge could be revoked if you misuse it or allow others to use it.

Who is eligible for a blue badge?

According to the DfT, you will automatically qualify for a blue badge if you are over two years old and:

  • Receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the disability living allowance

  • Receive a personal independence payment (PIP) and can't walk more than 50 metres

  • Receive the mobility component of PIP on the grounds that you can't undertake any journey as it would cause you overwhelming psychological distress

  • Are registered blind

  • Receive a war pensoner's mobility supplement

  • Received a lump sum payment as part of the armed forces compensation scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability

If you don't meet these criteria, you could also apply for the badge if you:

  • Cannot walk at all or have considerable difficulty in walking

  • Have a severe disability in both arms and drive regularly but cannot operate pay and display parking machines

  • Have a child under three who has a medical condition that means he or she needs to be kept near a vehicle or accompanied by bulky medical equipment

Thanks to the extension of the criteria to include those with hidden disabilities, the following people can apply for a blue badge:

  • Those who are a signifiant risk to themselves or others near vehicles, in traffic or car parks

  • Those who struggle severely to plan or follow a journey

  • Those who find it difficult or impossible to control their actions and lack awareness of the impact they can have on others

  • Those who regularly have intense and overwhelming responses to situations causing temporary loss of behavioural control

  • Those who frequently become extremely anxious or fearful of public/open spaces

How can I apply for a blue badge?

Local councils administer blue badges and people are advised to contact theirs to find out more about the scheme and get an application form.

The assessment process will only begin once the authority has all the evidence, and it may take 12 weeks or more.

People can also apply for a new badge or renew an old one on the Government website.

A badge costs up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland, and is free in Wales.