Help with getting around

If you have Parkinson’s, you might be worried about how your condition will affect your ability to get out and about. Find out more about the travel and transport schemes you could qualify for to make travelling easier and more affordable.

The Blue Badge scheme

What is the Blue Badge scheme?

The Blue Badge scheme helps you park closer to places, services or facilities you may want to visit or use. The scheme helps people who:

  • have severe mobility problems
  • are registered blind
  • have severe disabilities in both arms.

The Blue Badge is linked to a person, not a vehicle, so you can use it with any car you’re driving or travelling in as a passenger. This includes taxis and hire cars. 

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

 

Do I qualify for a Blue Badge?

You may qualify for a Blue Badge automatically or you may need to have 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 eight points or more under the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or
  • be registered blind, or
  • be getting War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement, or

In England:

  • if you 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. You must also have a substantial disability that causes an inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking, or
  • you 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.

In Northern Ireland:

  • you receive a benefit under the Armed Forces and Reserves Forces Compensation Scheme (within tariff levels 1-8) and have been certified by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) as having a permanent impairment which causes an inability to walk or a lot of difficulty walking.

In Scotland:

  • get the enhanced mobility component of Adult Disability Payment and have been awarded either eight points or more in the ‘moving around’ activity or 12 points in the ‘planning and following a journey’ activity or enhanced rate mobility without reference to points.

In Wales:

  • 12 points under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment.

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

In England:

  • you can't walk at all
  • 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 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, which means a driver has significant difficulty or is unable to use parking meters, 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.

You can check to see if you're eligible for a Blue Badge and apply for, or renew your application online (except for Aberdeen City Council, where you should apply via the council's website). If you live in Northern Ireland, you can check if you're eligible for a Blue Badge here. Contact your local council for more information or if you need help with an application. 

A badge can cost £10 in England and Northern Ireland, or £20 in Scotland. There’s no charge for a Blue Badge in Wales. A badge lasts 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. But as many authorities and councils have internal procedures for dealing with reviews, it's worth writing to ask for a review. You should do this within 1 month of the date on the decision letter. 

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. You can find more information about how to do this in the letter from your council.

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

With a Blue Badge on display, you can park:
 

  • for free – at on-street parking meters and in pay and display bays (unless signs show a time limit for badge holders) and for as long as you need to if the local authority or council has a policy
  • without time limit – in streets where you would usually only be able to wait for limited periods
  • for a limited time – on single or double yellow lines for a maximum of 3 hours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in some local authority areas in Scotland (you should check local rules), where there aren’t restrictions on loading or unloading. If you park somewhere with a time limit, always set the parking time clock on your Blue Badge to show the 15-minute period in which you arrived. You should get a parking clock with your Blue Badge, or contact your local council to get one. 

Whenever you use a Blue Badge, you should make sure it’s displayed the right way up and is clearly visible through the windscreen. You should also check the Blue Badge hasn’t expired.

A Blue Badge doesn’t allow you to park:

  • on private roads
  • in off-street car parks, although some may provide spaces for disabled people. You should check the signs to see what concessions are available and whether Blue Badge holders have to pay
  • in certain town centres, where access is prohibited or limited to vehicles with special permits that are issued locally
  • in central London (City of London, City of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and parts of Camden), although some facilities are provided
  • on road systems at some airports. If you need to park at an airport, you should contact the airport before you travel to check the car-parking arrangements.

Your car should not be wheel-clamped if you display a current Blue Badge, but the police can remove the vehicle if it's causing an obstruction. For example, if you're parked on a single-lane road which is stopping other traffic from passing, or close to a junction where it would be difficult for other drivers to see you. 

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.

Blue Badge holders are eligible for a 100% discount on the Congestion Charge in central London if they have applied for the exemption. It can be used on any 2 vehicles. 

For an application form call 0343 222 2222 (or textphone 020 7649 9123) or you can apply online

There is a £10 administration fee for the exemption. Vehicles taxed in the Disabled class are automatically exempt if they are registered at DVLA, Swansea.

You can use your UK Blue Badge if you’re travelling in some European Union (EU) countries, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Since Brexit, you should check with the embassy of the country you are travelling to for the latest rules. In some cases, you’ll need to ask for further information locally.

Read the latest guidance on using your Blue Badge abroad

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.

Other transport schemes

Whether you drive or prefer to use public transport, there are many other transport schemes that can help when you have Parkinson's.

The Hubs Mobility Advice Service (HMAS) helps you to find accessible travel information in England. 

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’. 

Outside of London, local authorities are in charge of public transport. You should 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 on 028 9054 0540, or by emailing [email protected].

To find out about public transport in London, including disabled access, visit Transport for London's 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.

The Motability Scheme allows disabled people to 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 of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Adult Disability Payment in Scotland
  • War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement and Armed Forces Independence Payment.

To find out more about Motability, call 0300 456 4566 or visit the Motability website.

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

Passenger assistance

If you’re travelling by rail in England, Scotland and Wales and need assistance because of your Parkinson’s (or any other condition), call National Rail Enquiries on 0800 022 3720 (textphone 0845 60 50 600). They can help you with their Passenger Assist service. 

You can also use the Passenger Assistance by Transreport app, which allows you to request assistance via a smartphone. You will receive an email once your request has been booked and confirmed.  

Disabled Persons Railcard

A Disabled Persons Railcard gives you and a companion a third off the cost of most train journeys. You'll need to show that you receive one of the following benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or Adult Disability Payment in Scotland
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance 
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
  • War or Service Disablement Pension
  • are buying or leasing a vehicle through the Motability Scheme.

Or you must have one of the following conditions:

  • a visual impairment
  • a hearing impairment
  • epilepsy.

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

If you're in Northern Ireland, you can apply for a Half Fare SmartPass. Find out more about a Half Fare SmartPass on Translink's website. Application forms are also available at Translink bus and rail stations or call 028 9066 6630.

A concessionary fare scheme allows some people to travel on public transport for a reduced fare, or sometimes for free. 

Your local authority or council may 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 state pension age or you're disabled, you can get free off-peak local bus travel

  • in Northern Ireland, you can travel free on the bus or by rail if you’re aged 60 or over, are registered blind or are a War Disablement pensioner. If you’re under 60, you can travel for half price if you receive the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), have had a driving licence refused or revoked on medical grounds, have a recognised learning disability or are partially sighted. To see if you qualify, visit the Translink website.

  • in Scotland, if you’re 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. The card also allows companions to travel for free where required by the cardholder. To find out if you qualify, visit www.entitlementcard.org.uk

  • in Wales, if you’re 60 or over, or are disabled, you can travel for free on local buses across Wales, at any time of day. For more details, visit the Traveline Cymru website. You can also travel for free or at a discounted rate on many Transport for Wales trains. Visit Transport for Wales' website for more information on discounted travel.

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 travel across London and local bus journeys nationally. Visit TFL to find out more, or ontact your local authority or council to find out what they offer.

If you’re over 60 or disabled, you may be able to get discounted coach travel. For example, National Express offers both a Senior Coachcard and a Disability Coachcard that offers discounts on fares. You can get more details from the individual coach companies.

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Help with getting around (PDF, 373KB)

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Driving and Parkinson's

Having Parkinson’s doesn’t always mean that you will have to stop driving. But there are some things you need to do if you would like to continue driving and stay safe on the roads.

Read our information to find out more about:

  • notifying the DVLA
  • insurance
  • medication and driving
  • mobility assessment centres.

Last updated September 2022. 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]