Help with getting around

If you have Parkinson's, you might be worried about how it will affect your ability to get out and about.

Parkinson's shouldn't stop you from getting around - there are different transport and travel schemes you may be able to apply for to make travelling a bit easier.

The aim of the Blue Badge scheme is to help people with severe mobility problems, registered blind people and those with severe disabilities in both arms to park closer to places, services or facilities they wish to visit or use.

With a Blue Badge on display, a vehicle driven by a disabled person, or with a disabled person as a passenger, can be parked:

  • without charge or time limit at on-street parking meters and in Pay and Display bays (unless signs show a time limit for badge holders), where the local authority or council has adopted this policy. It's always best to check what the policy is with the relevant local authority or council
  • without time limit in streets where you would usually only be able to wait for limited periods
  • for a maximum of 3 hours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in some local authority areas in Scotland (do check local rules), where there are yellow lines or other signage

This is only if the disabled person leaves the vehicle, and:

  • in England and Wales, a special parking clock, where provided, can be used and also should be displayed showing the time of arrival when:
         •  the vehicle is parked on yellow lines or
      in a reserved parking place for badge holders 
             that has a time limit (in England, Wales and Scotland)
  • the vehicle is not parked in a bus lane or cycle lane during the lane’s hours of operation
  • the vehicle is not parked where there is a ban on loading or unloading
  • all other parking rules are met

Your car should not be wheel-clamped if you display a current Blue Badge, but the police may remove the vehicle if it's causing an obstruction.

It's an offence to display a Blue Badge if the disabled person is not, or has not been, in the vehicle. The only exception is if the driver is on the way to collect a disabled person, or has just dropped them off.

The Blue Badge scheme applies throughout the UK, except for certain London boroughs (City of London, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and part of Camden) who have their own versions. These boroughs do have some parking concessions for Blue Badge holders, so contact them to find out more.

You might qualify for a Blue Badge automatically or you may need to undergo an assessment.

Automatic qualification

To automatically qualify for a Blue Badge you must:

  • be getting the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, or
  • be assessed as having 8 points or more under the 'moving around' activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment, or
  • in Scotland and Wales, 12 points under the 'planning and following journeys' activity, or
  • be getting War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement, or
  • in England, have received a lump sum payment from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (within tariff levels 1-8) and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability, and includes Permanent Mental Disorder under tariff 6. In England, you must also have a substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking, or
  • in Northern Ireland, you must have been certified by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) as having a permanent impairment which causes inability to walk or a lot of difficulty walking, or
  • in England, have scored 10 points specifically for descriptor E (being unable to undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress) under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity of the Personal Independence Payment assessment, or
  • be registered blind

To qualify through assessment you must have a permanent and substantial disability which means that:

In England

  • you can't walk at all, or
  • you can't walk without help from someone else or using mobility aids
  • you find walking very difficult due to pain, breathlessness or the time it takes
  • walking is dangerous to your health and safety
  • you have a terminal illness, which means you can't walk or find walking very difficult and have a DS1500 form
  • you have a severe disability in both arms and drive regularly, but can't operate pay-and-display parking machines
  • you are constantly a significant risk to yourself or others near vehicles, in traffic or car parks
  • you struggle severely to plan or follow a journey
  • you find it difficult or impossible to control your actions and lack awareness of the impact you could have on others
  • you regularly have intense and overwhelming responses to situations causing temporary loss of behavioural control
  • you frequently become extremely anxious or fearful of public/open spaces

In Scotland

  • have a substantial disability lasting at least 12 months that means you can't walk at all or that means you're virtually unable to walk, or
  • regularly drive and can't use parking meters because of a severe disability in both arms, or
  • have a mental condition that means you lack awareness of the danger from traffic, either for a temporary period of at least 12 months or permanently, or
  • have a mental condition that means you lack awareness about the danger of traffic when making journeys

If you have a mental condition that means you lack awareness about the danger of traffic when making journeys, you can't apply online. You should call your local council's Blue Badge team to discuss your case.

In Wales

  • be completely unable to walk or
  • have considerable difficulty walking or
  • have a substantial impairment to mobility or
  • have a severe disability in both arms if you are a driver or
  • have a severe cognitive impairment and are unable to plan or follow any journey without the help of someone else or
  • have a terminal illness that seriously limits your mobility

In Northern Ireland

  • have a permanent disability which means you can't walk or have a lot of difficulty walking - in this case your doctor may be asked to confirm your eligibility

  • drive a vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate, or have a lot of difficulty operating, all or some types of parking meter

You can check to see if you're eligible for a Blue Badge and apply for or renew your application online (except for the City of Aberdeen Council, where you should apply via the council's website), or through the nidirect website for Northern Ireland. You can also contact your local authority or council. Local authorities and councils in England and Northern Ireland can charge up to £10 (or £20 in Scotland) to give you a badge. There is no charge for a Blue Badge in Wales. A badge will last up to 3 years.

If your local authority or council refuses to issue you with a Blue Badge, you have no formal right of appeal. However, as many authorities and councils have internal procedures for dealing with reviews, it's worth writing to ask for a review.

In Scotland there is a formal review process. If a local authority decides that you don't qualify, you can ask for a review of the decision within 28 days of receiving it.

There's no limit on how often you can apply for a badge. If you're unsuccessful on your first attempt and your situation changes, you're free to try again.

Blue Badge holders can be exempt from the congestion charge in central London if they apply to the Congestion Charge Office. This exemption can be used on any two vehicles. There's a £10 administration fee.

For an application form call 0343 222 2222 or apply online. Vehicles taxed in the ‘Disabled’ class are automatically exempt if they are registered at DVLA, Swansea.

The Motability scheme lets disabled people exchange a ‘qualifying benefit’ to lease a car (including cars adapted to carry a driver or passenger seated in their wheelchair), powered wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Qualifying benefits include:

  • the higher-rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • the enhanced-rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment
  • War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement and Armed Forces Independence Payment

To find out more about Motability, call 0300 4564566 or visit their website (not available in Northern Ireland).

If you use a car to get around and want to know more about driving when you have Parkinson’s, you may find our information on driving and Parkinson’s useful.

If you have a disability, you might find a Radar key helpful. These allow you to unlock more than 9,000 accessible public toilets across the UK. You can purchase a Radar key from Disability Rights UK.

By law, the government can make bus companies ensure that disabled people are able to get on and off buses safely and ‘without too much difficulty’ and travel ‘in safety and reasonable comfort’.

To find out about public transport in London, including disabled access, you can visit the Transport for London website or call its customer service centre on 0343 222 1234. You can also order the Transport for London tube access guide on this number.

Outside London, local authorities are in charge of public transport. Contact your local authority to find out more about access to disabled public transport in
your area.

In Northern Ireland, you should contact the Department of Infrastructure.

Local community transport schemes

Many areas have volunteer-led local community transport schemes in place. Your local authority or council will be able to provide you further information about schemes in your area.

In England, Scotland and Wales, if you need to make special arrangements to travel by rail because of your Parkinson’s (or any other condition), call National Rail Enquiries on 0800 022 3720 or textphone Enquiries on 0345 60 50 600, and ask about their Passenger Assist service (not available in Northern Ireland).

You may be able to get a Disabled Persons Railcard, which gives you and a companion one-third off the cost of most train journeys.

The card costs £20 for one year or £54 for 3 years. You can get details by visiting
the Disabled Persons Railcard website or by ringing 0345 605 0525 (textphone 0345 601 0132).

You will need to show that you receive 1 of the following benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
  • War Disablement Pension
  • are buying or leasing a vehicle through the Motability Scheme

Or you must have 1 of the following conditions: 

  • a visual impairment
  • epilepsy
  • a hearing impairment

If you're in Northern Ireland, you can apply for the similar Half Fare SmartPass. Contact Translink on 0845 600 0049, visit the Translink website or pick up an application form from Translink bus and rail stations, social security offices, Health and Social Care Trusts, or Driver and Vehicle Licensing NI.

Your local authority will have a concessionary fare scheme for older and disabled people.

Each nation in the UK sets the minimum that should be available to help pay for travel. Who qualifies as a disabled person for this help also varies between each country in the UK.

  • In England, if you've reached pension age or you're disabled, you can get free off-peak local bus travel.
  • In Wales, if you're aged 60 or over or you're disabled, you can travel for free on local buses at any time of day. For more details, visit the website. You can also travel for free or at a discounted rate on many Transport for Wales trains. For further details, visit the Transport for Wales Rail website.
  • In Scotland, if you're aged 60 or over or are disabled, a National Entitlement Card allows you to use national and local buses for free at any time of day and also may entitle you to discounted rail travel in some areas of Scotland. You may also qualify for the companion element on your card, which allows you to take someone with you for free to assist you on buses. To find out if you qualify, visit the National Entitlement Card website.
  • In Northern Ireland, you can travel free if you're aged 60 or over, are registered blind or are a War Disablement pensioner, and for half price if you have a listed disabling condition or receive certain benefits. To see if you qualify, visit the Translink website.

Some local authorities and councils may offer more than the minimum to residents. For instance, in London, the Freedom Pass lets older and disabled people use London buses, tubes, trains and trams free of charge (time restrictions apply in some cases). 

For more information see the TFL website. Contact your local authority or council to find out more about what they can offer.

If you’re 60 or over, you may be able to get discounted coach travel. For example, National Express has a Senior Coachcard that costs £12.50 (plus £2.50 p&p) and gives a third off standard fares for a year.

Some companies also offer reduced fares for disabled people. You can get more details from the coach companies.

If you are planning to go on holiday or need to travel abroad:

Using your Blue Badge abroad

Following the UK's departure from the European Union, the rules around using Blue Badges abroad are subject to change. For the latest guidance, you should read the European Commission booklet Parking card for people with disabilities in the European Union

Download this information

Help with getting around (PDF, 164KB)

We know lots of people would rather have something in their hands to read rather than look at a screen, so you can order printed copies of our information by post, phone or email.

Getting my Blue Badge - Alan's story

"I don’t look at my Blue Badge as being something I’m entitled to, but it has been a massive advantage."

Alan is 77 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 5 years ago. After his mobility deteriorated, he applied for a Blue Badge with the help of a Parkinson's local adviser. Here he shares his experiences.  

Out and about

"I go out pretty well every day of the week and that keeps me sane."

In this short video, Janet talks about the schemes and equipment that help her to stay active and make everyday trips, such as to the shops.

Last updated December 2020. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]