If you are a disabled driver, having a Blue Badge can open you up to a wide range of opportunities. The badge may be issued automatically if you receive a mobility allowance. One example of this is that it allows you to park closer to a destination, whether you’re a passenger or the driver, and is usually issued by your local council for a period of three years and costs £10. However, if you have an allowance which ends before the three-year period ends, your Blue Badge will coincide with this. Alongside Blue Badges, mobility allowance can also be a good way to find yourself perfect Motability deals.

There are plenty of rights and responsibilities to be aware of if you are a Blue Badge holder. Here, with the help of Lookers, who provide a variety of car service plans, we will run through all the necessary information to make sure you’re in the know:
How do you know if you qualify for a Blue Badge?

To qualify, you must be over two years old. There are five reasons you will automatically qualify:

• You receive a higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
• You receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility supplement
• You have been given a sum by the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme and have been registered with a substantial and permanent disability
• You get a Personal Independence Payment which shows an eligible descriptor of the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component
• You are registered blind

You may also be entitled to own a Blue Badge however if you:

• Have a terminal illness which interferes with your ability to walk and has led to you being issued with a DS1500
• Have a substantial or permanent disability that means you can’t, or it’s very difficult to walk
• Regularly drive a vehicle and have severe disabilities with your arms

How do I apply for a Blue Badge?

Proof of identification, an up-to-date photograph of the intended badge holder, proof of address and, if you’re automatically eligible, your original decision letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will need to be provided.

It’s also important to have your National Insurance number to hand if you’re applying for yourself, or a child reference number if the application is for an infant. If you already have a driving licence, you’ll be required to provide your details alongside the number, local council and expiry date on your current Blue Badge — if you own one.

If you’re not automatically eligible, you’ll be required to fill in an additional section on the form. You should hear back from your council within six to eight weeks and you may be asked to do a mobility assessment or to send extra information before you are granted with the badge. If for whatever reason you are refused, you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered. To apply when you’re automatically eligible is straightforward and you can fill in the form online, or by contacting your local council.

Where can I and can’t I use it?

Unlike other drivers, holding a Blue Badge allows you to park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours as long as you’re not blocking any loading or unloading areas. It’s vital that you display your blue parking clock for any wardens to see what time you arrived.

You must remember however that owning a Blue Badge doesn’t give you free reign on where you can park and, if you’re not the driver, you must make sure whoever is behind the wheel also knows this. It is only intended for on-street parking, with off-street car parks such as supermarkets spaces being governed by separate rules. You must make sure you do not park anywhere which could cause an obstruction or be a danger to other road users. Doing so may result in a Penalty Charge Notice being handed out, or worse yet your vehicle may be removed.

Be sure to check with any off-street car park establishments what their status is — never assume you can just park for free or you may receive a nasty surprise.

When it comes to parking in a zone which is covered by parking meters and pay-and-display machines, your badge allows you to park free of charge for as long as is required. This also goes for disabled parking bays, unless it states otherwise.

It’s also important to realise that if you travel outside of England, but still within the UK, you must check what the country’s concessions are with the relevant authority. The same goes for travelling in London — check with Transport for London for further information. This is due to the fact the scheme doesn’t fully apply in the City of London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and part of the London Borough of Camden.

Who is able to use my badge?

You must never give your badge to your family or friends to entitle them to free parking – even if they are visiting you. Also, although it’s not illegal to do so, you shouldn’t sit in the car while someone else takes advantage of the badge’s benefits.

In simple terms, as long as you’re in the vehicle as a driver or passenger, anyone is able to use it. However, misuse is illegal. If the badge is used without you in attendance, the user could be fined up to £1,000 and the badge may be confiscated. If you are a passenger, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the driver is aware of any rules laid out.

Is there a correct way to display your badge?

The best way to do this is by placing it on the dashboard or facia panel so that it can be read through your front windscreen. Your photograph should not be visible, however, and you should ensure that all details remain legible. It’s your responsibility to make sure the badge is visible to any traffic warden that may pass your vehicle.
Using your badge abroad – is this possible?

Currently, there are no arrangements in place that would allow you to use your badge outside the EU in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. It is possible however to use your badge if you’re travelling to certain locations abroad as it’s recognised throughout the European Union (EU). However, it must be noted that the concessions provided may not be the same as those in the UK.

How do you reapply for your badge?

It’s possible to renew online and you will also receive a letter from the Blue Badge Improvement Service to remind you it’s time to renew. It’s recommended to reapply for your badge well before its expiry date; if it expires, you may be fined if you continue to use it.

This highlights that the Blue Badge is a great tool to help you continue your everyday life, but be sure to take note of where you can and can’t use it to make sure you aren’t stung be any unwanted fines!