How To Get A Handicap Sticker: Your Ultimate Guide

handicap wheelchair ramp sign outside by the building

If you live with pain or disability, you already know that handicap parking isn’t a perk: it’s a necessity.

And with 61 million US adults living with some type of disability, it’s crucial that those spots go to those who need it most. This is where handicap stickers or handicap placards for your car come in. These placards can make it much easier to get in and out of public places—and fortunately, the process of getting one can be relatively easy as well.

If you’ve found yourself wondering how to get a handicap sticker or placard, we’ve put together a quick handicap sticker guide. Read on to see if you qualify and how to take action.

Who Qualifies for a Handicap Sticker?

To get a new 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 impairment, including the inability to walk without the use of a support tool like a brace or wheelchair. However, handicap stickers can also be issued for a range of less obvious impairments, including the following:

  • 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

If you’re unsure whether you qualify, speak to a medical professional. Whether or not your condition is on this list, your local laws may allow your state to grant you a disability parking permit.

How to Get a Handicap Sticker or Placard

The process for getting a handicap sticker or placard can vary by county or by city, just like the process of getting a driver’s license.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in your area will issue the permit according to state requirements, so it’s a good idea to check with them for details. However, most areas will require the same steps, so here are some general guidelines.

First, start by talking to your primary healthcare provider, who can help you understand whether or not your condition qualifies for a handicap sticker on your car. If they believe it does, they will submit paperwork documenting your condition.

Once you have the support of a medical professional, you can check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your area. Many states offer online or mail-in applications, though some still require that you visit in person. Depending on your region, you may also need to pay a small fee.

After you’ve applied, you’ll have to wait a few weeks while your request is being processed. Once it’s complete, you’ll typically receive your placard in the mail.

And when the expiration date comes, don’t stress out too much worrying about how to get a replacement handicap sticker or placard. Most states offer grace periods and make the re-application process relatively smooth.

Next Steps for Your Handicap Sticker or Placard

As you begin considering how to get a handicap sticker, don’t forget that a parking placard can only be used by the person it was issued to. And if you’re looking into a placard in combination with a disabled driving test, check out our guide, as well as our best tips on finding accessible parking when there’s not enough to go around.

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