Row of handicap parking spots

How to Get a Handicap Parking Placard, Handicap Parking Permit, or Handicap Sticker

If you live with a disability, you know handicap parking isn’t a perk: it’s a necessity. In most cases, individuals who qualify for disability parking don't know they do. A handicap permit allows you to enjoy benefits you may not realize you are entitled to.   

With one in four U.S. adults living with some type of disability, it’s crucial that wheelchair accessible parking spots go to those who need them most. This is where handicap stickers or handicap placards for your car come in. These placards can make it easier to get in and out of public places. Fortunately, the process of getting a handicap placard is relatively easy too.

If you’re wondering how to get a handicap sticker or placard, we’ve put together this guide. Read on to see if you qualify and how to get your parking placard.

What is a Handicap Parking Placard?

To park in a handicap accessible parking space, a person must have a handicap parking placard or license plate. 

A handicap placard hangs from the rear-view mirror of a vehicle, making it easily transportable from one vehicle to another. Handicap placards are generally best suited for a caregiver who transports a person with a disability.

A handicap parking placard lets you park in spots marked with an International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA). However, the eligibility for these placards varies by state.  

Who qualifies for a handicap sticker or placard?

To get a handicap sticker or placard, you must have a medical condition that qualifies as a disability.

Often, people associate handicap stickers with more noticeable conditions like mobility impairments, including the inability to walk without the use of support like a brace or wheelchair. However, handicap stickers can also be issued for a range of less obvious impairments, including:

  • Visual impairments, like limited night vision

  • Severe arthritis

  • Advanced cardiac or lung disease

  • Brain injuries and tumors

  • Back or spinal injuries

  • Recent surgery or cancer treatment

  • Seizure disorders

What is a Handicap Tag? 

A handicap tag is a phrase that usually refers to a license plate or a sticker that is applied to a license plate, but some states use "tags" to refer to handicap placards. If your DMV uses the term "disability tag" or "handicap tag," be sure to ask if that refers to license plates or placards.

How to Get a Handicap Parking Placard?

The process to get a handicap accessible parking placard is similar across many states with a few exceptions. Generally, you can follow these guidelines to obtain your handicap parking placard.

Step 1: Speak with your primary care provider:

If you have a medical condition and believe a wheelchair accessible parking placard could help you, speak with your primary care provider (PCP). Together, you and your PCP can discuss medical diagnoses, and qualifications for a handicap parking placard.

Step 2: Fill Out a Handicap Parking Application

A handicap parking application must be filled out before an accessible parking placard can be obtained. To find this application, visit your state’s government website or your local DMV website. You can print and fill out the application or get an application from your local DMV.

Step 3: Return the placard application to your local DMV

Once you’ve filled out an application for a handicap parking placard, return it to your local DMV. You can return your application in-person or by mail. If you return your application by mail, you may need to pay a fee and wait until your parking placard is mailed to you. If you return your handicap parking placard application in-person, you may be able to avoid fees and obtain your parking placard the same day. 

Step 4: Getting your Wheelchair Accessible Parking Placard

Once your application is approved and you obtain a handicap parking placard, you can utilize handicap accessible parking spaces. Remember to follow handicap parking etiquette and laws to avoid parking tickets.

Renewing a Handicap Parking Placard

From time to time, both temporary and permeant wheelchair accessible parking placards may need to be renewed. Temporary handicap parking placards have an expiration date. To renew these placards, follow the steps listed in this guide. 

Renewing a permanent handicap placard may be necessary depending on your state and local guidelines. Although the process may seem tedious, the same guidelines will need to be followed for renewal. These guidelines are in place to ensure people who need accessible parking spaces can use them.

If you have questions regarding wheelchair accessible parking placards in your state, contact your local DMV. 

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