Wondering how to obtain a disabled parking permit in California? Obtaining a disabled parking permit can be a challenging endeavor if you do not know the ins and outs of the process. Each state has a somewhat different process in the United States for its residents to obtain a permit.

If you are trying to obtain a disabled parking permit in the state of California there are many qualifications and rules that you need to be aware of. The following guide will be a useful tool to assist you in this process of getting a permit.

Make Sure You Qualify

To obtain a disabled person placard in the state of California there are qualifications. These include:

  • Impaired mobility
  • Lost use of one or more lower extremities or both hands
  • Having a disease that substantially impairs or interferes with mobility
  • Being severely disabled and unable to move without an assistive device
  • Documented visual problems
  • Lower-vision or partial sightedness

If you have an impairment based on any of the conditions above you may qualify for a permit. Conditions must be accompanied by a medical certificate.

Obtain a Medical Certificate

As part of the application, you will need to have a physician certify that you are medically disabled and legally qualify for the permit. So, you will need to visit a doctor in your area who is willing to examine you and certify on the paperwork that you have a disability.

California requires that you go to a licensed physician, surgeon, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse mid-wife for certification. This individual must have knowledge of the condition that you are impaired by and sign the doctor’s certification section of the application.

You may also go to a licensed chiropractor if you have lost the use of one or both legs or if you have a severe limitation in the use of your legs.

You may also receive certification from an ophthalmologist or optometrist if you have impairment caused by an eye disease or low vision.

If you have an injury or impairment that is apparent you may not receive medical certification. For example, if you have lost a leg or both hands, you can go to the DMV in person and submit an application without medical certification.

The Application Process

 To obtain an application you can go to the California department of motor vehicles website and fill it out or print it out and mail it in. You can also go to the DMV in person and receive a copy.

Before mailing in the application or submitting it online, make sure that you have medical certification. There is a section on the application for a physician to certify your qualifications for the permit. Applications without medical certification must be submitted in person.

How to Use Your Permit

Once you know how to obtain a disabled parking permit in California, you need to understand the rules and regulations pertaining to its use. California code 4461 pertains to the laws covering the use and misuse of disabled parking placards.

The first thing that you want to understand about your permit is what type of permit it is. It is illegal to display an expired permit, and the different permits have different periods of validity.

If you have a temporary parking permit it will only last up to 6 months. Travel permits last even shorter. A travel permit for a resident lasts 30 days and for a non-resident lasts 90 days.

Even if you have a permanently disabled parking permit, you must renew it after 2 years. Contrary to its title a permanently disabled parking permit can expire.

It is important also to understand where you can and cannot park with a disabled parking permit. Obviously, you can use your permit to park in any of the spots marked with the universal symbol for disabled parking. This symbol is a picture of a wheelchair, usually in blue and white.

There are, however, several places that you cannot park with this placard. There are several spaces in California that are marked for delivery or passenger vehicles, also there are spaces that no one can park in.

You must display your permit at all times when parked in a disabled parking spot. Your disabled parking permit must be removed when your vehicle is in motion because it is an obstruction to your view of the road.

How to Renew a Permit

A permanent placard is valid for two years. This means that you will need to renew your application every two years to receive a new permit. Renewals are not automatic in California, so you will need to resubmit an application.

How to Get a New Permit after Losing One

If you lose your placard at any time during its two-year period, you do not need to submit another application. Instead, you need to complete and sign the application for a replacement disability access license plate and/or placard.

Where are the California County Licensing Offices Located?

Individuals in California who are seeking a disabled parking permit or plates are in luck, as there are numerous County Licensing Offices available throughout the state. You will need to do some research before submitting it to any office, as you are supposed to send your application to the office that is closest to you.

Can You Report Handicapped Parking Space Abuse?

Once you have your permit, it can be frustrating to see individuals parking in the spaces you need without having a placard or permit visible. If you suspect that someone has been abusing the system, you can contact the California Department of Public Safety. Be sure to write down the vehicle’s license plate number and a description of what you observed when making the report.


By following this “how to obtain a disabled parking permit in California” guide, you can receive your disabled parking permit in the state of California and use it correctly. Remember to keep it visible at all times when parking and to remain up to date with your renewals and physician visits.