How to Get a Disabled Parking Permit

Being able to use designated disabled parking spots can be key to getting around, but how do you go about getting a disabled parking permit?

By , Journalist

If you or a loved one is among the millions of drivers—or passengers—living with a disability, you might be entitled to the safety and convenience that disabled parking permits provide.

The benefits of disabled parking spots include allowing people with medical conditions that severely impact their mobility, and certain categories of military veterans, to:

  • park closer to the entrance of a business or home
  • navigate more easily in and out of a vehicle due to the larger size of the parking spaces, and
  • use accessible building entrance ramps or pathways required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The specific requirements for getting a disabled parking permit—and the rules for using them—differ from state to state. States also have their own application processes, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach to getting one. This guide covers the basic types of permits, who can typically qualify for one, the general steps involved to apply, and where to go to start an application.

Types of Disabled Parking Permits

Different types of disabled parking permits are available based on factors like where they're displayed on a vehicle, the length of time they're valid, and who can apply for and use them.

We've included an alphabetical list of the state agencies in charge of disabled parking permits at the end of this article. Always check in with your agency to get the most up-to-date rules, requirements, and fees.

Disabled Parking Placards vs. License Plates

Disabled parking placards, also called hang tags, are a well-known type of disabled parking permit. In the past, they were often called handicapped parking placards. These hang-tags can be moved from one vehicle to another—making them a good option for people with a disability who often need caregivers to drive them to appointments or on errands.

Most states also issue disabled person license plates to drivers for personal use on their own designated vehicle. Disabled person license plates generally allow parking in the same place as disabled placards. Some states, such as New York, charge a small fee for disabled parking plates, but not for a disabled parking placard.

Iowa residents can request a sticker to put on their license plate, rather than getting a disabled person license plate. In Massachusetts, and many other states, you can transfer an existing placard to a disabled person license plate, but you can't have both at the same time.

Permanent vs. Temporary Disabled Permits

Most states offer permanent permits as well as temporary permits. Some people with mobility problems apply for temporary placards after an injury or while recovering from surgery.

Many temporary permits have a six-month limitation. In California, you can renew a six-month temporary placard up to six times. In Louisiana, temporary hang tags are issued for one year, and only one renewal is allowed.

In Nevada, placards are color-coded for temporary, moderate, or permanent use. Maine has three different colored placards: blue for permanent, red for temporary, and green for transporting agencies. Some states, like Florida, charge a small fee for temporary disabled permits, while the permanent ones are free.

Disabled Veterans License Plates

Many states have special permits for U.S. veterans with service-connected disabilities or for those with certain U.S. military awards such as Purple Heart recipients. Applicants may be eligible to use streamlined procedures or to apply for a specially designated plate design.

If you're an Iowa resident with a service-related disability, for example, you can have your eligibility certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rather than getting a medical statement.

If you're a disabled veteran in California, having a disabled veteran plate means you won't have to pay license and registration fees.

Visit your state's disabled veterans license plate granting agency website from the list at the end of this article for details.

Do You Qualify for a Disabled Parking Permit?

Like many legal statutes—from gun control to child custody laws, for example—eligibility requirements for receiving disabled parking permits vary by state. You don't have to be receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) to apply.

All states recognize some conditions as qualifying for a placard, including:

  • wheelchair users
  • people with amputations or missing limbs
  • people requiring a cane or other walking aid
  • those suffering from specific respiratory issues, heart conditions, or severe rheumatoid arthritis, and
  • those unable to walk 200 feet without rest.

Other types of conditions that states grant disabled parking placards for vary quite a bit. Deafness, for example, is recognized by a handful of states as an eligible condition, while only New York state recognizes mental illness as a qualifying condition.

Eligibility requirements in Washington, according to the Washington State Department of Licensing, include the use of portable oxygen, vision impairments, and acute light sensitivity. You can look up your state's requirements (see below) to find out if your condition qualifies you for a disabled parking placard.

Once you've determined that you qualify for a disabled parking permit, you can begin the application process.

Filling Out a Disabled Parking Permit Application

When it comes to applying for your permit, regulations vary from state to state. This "different state, different rules" concept applies to renewal requirements, fees, and the actual application procedures.

Applying for Your First Disabled Parking Permit

In many states, you can fill out the paperwork to apply for a disabled parking permit—either online or by hand—and submit it to the agency that issues license plates. The form will generally ask if you're applying for a permanent or temporary permit.

You'll need to state your disability and, in some cases, you may be required to provide extra documentation supporting your claim, such as a letter from your physician, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider.

In California, a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant (or chiropractor or podiatrist in some situations) must sign one section of the application form.

In Mississippi, a licensed physician or nurse practitioner and a county Tax Collector's office will need to fill out the application form. In Oklahoma, you can simply fill out an online form through their portal, include the contact information of your physician, and the agency will take it from there.

While many states allow you to fill out and submit the form online, others might require you to show up in person or send the application through postal mail. Again, you'll find out your options for applying by researching the rules at your state agency listed below.

Renewing Your Disabled Parking Permit

In many states, your disabled parking permit will be renewed automatically when you renew your license. In other states, you'll need to renew your permit more frequently.

For instance, California requires you to renew your disabled parking permit every two years, but the Department of Motor Vehicles will send you a new one automatically if you have a permanent disabled person placard.

In Pennsylvania, you'll be mailed a renewal form 60 days before your current one expires.

In some states, you have to provide recent evidence that you're still disabled and eligible for the permit. But in many states, including Montana and Indiana, you're not required to recertify a permanent disability.

Check the renewal process in your state by visiting the website listed at the end of this article.

Replacing Your Disabled Parking Permit

If you lose your disabled parking permit, you'll have to apply for a replacement or substitute placard. Some states, like Hawaii and Illinois, charge for a lost, stolen, or confiscated placard, with fees varying by state.

Hawaii charges you an increasing fee with each replacement, and Rhode Island requires you to sign an affidavit for lost disabled parking permits. Most states allow you to have only one placard at a time, and it's never okay to lend out your personal placard.

Visit your state's agency website for more information by clicking on the link at the end of this article.

Get Help With Your Disabled Parking Permit Application

The disabled parking permit application process can be time-consuming, requiring you to chase after paperwork or submit it in person. For this reason, a number of convenient third-party services exist to do the busy work for you—for a price, of course.

If it's worth it to you to skip lines or save time on forms, you can search online for organizations that will do the work for you. Or better yet, ask a friend or caregiver to help you fill out and submit the application.

Find Your State's Disabled Parking Permit Application

This list below contains links to the disabled parking permit-issuing government agencies or permit applications for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We've also included links specific to disabled veteran license plate application information where available.

Alabama Kansas New York
Alaska Kansas Disabled Veteran License Plates New York Disabled Veteran License Plates
Arizona Kentucky North Carolina
Arkansas Kentucky Disabled Veterans License Plates North Carolina Disabled Veteran License Plates
Arkansas Disabled Veteran License Plates Louisiana North Dakota
California Louisiana Disabled Veterans License Plates Ohio
California Disabled Veteran License Plates Maine Oklahoma
Colorado Maryland Oklahoma Disabled Veteran License Plates
Colorado Disabled Veteran License Plates Massachusetts Oregon
Connecticut Michigan Pennsylvania
Connecticut Disabled Veteran License Plates Michigan Disabled Veteran License Plates Rhode Island
Delaware Minnesota Rhode Island Disabled Veteran Placard
Delaware Disabled Veteran License Plates Minnesota Disabled Veteran License Plates South Carolina
District of Columbia Mississippi South Carolina Disabled Veteran License Plates
Florida Missouri South Dakota
Florida Disabled Parking Permits for Veterans Missouri Disabled Veteran License Plates Tennessee
Georgia Montana Tennessee Disabled Veteran License Plates
Georgia Disabled Veteran License Plates Montana Disabled Veteran License Plates Texas
Hawaii Nebraska Utah
Idaho Nebraska Disabled Veteran License Plates Utah Disabled Veteran License Plates
Idaho Disabled Veteran Plates Nevada Virginia
Illinois New Hampshire Washington
Illinois Disabled Veteran License Plates New Hampshire Disabled Veteran License Plates Washington Disabled Veteran License Plates
Indiana New Jersey Wisconsin
Indiana Disabled Veteran License Plates New Jersey Disabled Veteran Placards Wisconsin Disabled Veteran License Plates
Iowa New Mexico
Iowa Disabled Veteran License Plates New Mexico Disabled Veteran License Plates

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