If you (or a loved one) have a mobility limitation, you understand the struggles of parking lots – sadly, they’re not always accessible. This is especially true for wheelchair users, who need ramps, flat surfaces, and wide spaces to move around safely. To make life easier, you can apply for a special parking permit for wheelchair users, letting you park near the front of a business or shopping center.

So what is a wheelchair parking permit? In most cases, this is the same as a handicap parking permit, which you’ll display on your car to indicate that you have permission to park in designated spots.

Here’s how to apply for your permit, no matter where you live.

What qualifies for handicap parking?

First, how do you know if you qualify for wheelchair-accessible parking? Does being in a wheelchair automatically mean you can get a permit?

Although it seems like it should, there are unfortunately people out there who try to fraud the system and get parking permits that they don’t need. For this reason, wheelchair users need to prove their eligibility with a medical certificate. This is to stop people from claiming passes to access convenient parking when they don’t need it.

The good news is that if you have a genuine need for using a wheelchair, you’ll easily qualify! While each state sets its own guidelines for eligibility, they all include those who use a mobility aid like a wheelchair. If moving or walking unaided is difficult or not possible for you, then you’re eligible, whether you use a wheelchair, motorized scooter, cane, crutches, or a prosthetic device.

(Depending on your state, you might also qualify for a disabled toll permit if tossing coins into the toll basket isn’t possible due to a disability.)

disabled parking sign
Image by Jennifer Uppendahl on Unsplash: With your wheelchair permit, getting accessible parking while running errands will be easy.

How to get a wheelchair parking permit

As a wheelchair user, what are the steps you need to take to get your permit? Here’s a general overview of what to expect. However, keep in mind that the process will vary slightly depending on your state of residence.

1. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles

It’s important to remember that wheelchair parking permits are controlled on a state level, not federal. So, to arrange your permit, you’ll need to contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles/Motor Vehicle Administration. They can tell you all of the requirements and provide you with the paperwork to get started. Check out what’s required for your state so that you know what to expect.

2. Determine if you need a temporary or permanent permit

There are many kinds of parking permits. For example, Ohio handicap placards can include permits for businesses, veterans, and other individuals.

No matter where you live, you’ll need to decide if you’re applying for a temporary or permanent wheelchair permit. If you’re using a wheelchair temporarily while recovering from an illness or injury, you might need a permit for a few months. Or, if you use your wheelchair regularly, you’ll need a permanent pass.

It’s important to determine which one to apply for, though, as the application process can be slightly different for each. Generally, a temporary permit will have an expiration date, and a permanent pass may need to be renewed every few years.

3. Obtain a medical certification

After you have your paperwork, you’ll need to get a medical certification from your doctor. This is a straightforward process where they’ll either write you a letter or complete a section of your application, verifying that you use a wheelchair and are eligible for the parking permit.

This is a legal formality where a medical professional states that you have a health condition requiring the use of a wheelchair, approving you as eligible for a handicapped parking permit. Don’t feel nervous about asking your doctor or having an online consultation – medical professionals help patients apply for parking permits all the time and are glad to be of assistance, since they know permits make life much easier for wheelchair users.

online telemedicine consultation
Image by Anna Shvets on Pexels: A doctor can help you get your wheelchair permit via an in-person appointment or a telehealth consultation.

4. Complete and return your application form

Once you’ve completed your paperwork, return it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, either by fax, email, or in person. In some states, you might also need to pay a small application fee. Ohio handicap placards, for example, have a small $3.50 application fee.

Once submitted, your permit application should be approved in just a few days and then mailed to your home. Display it on your car as instructed so it’s easy for others to see. Remember to keep an eye on the expiry and/or renewal dates, so you can apply for a new pass before your current one becomes invalid.

You’ll be sure to appreciate the convenience a wheelchair parking permit can bring to your life, as it can help you to stay safe in parking lots. If you have any questions about applying for a parking permit as a wheelchair user, Disabled Parking can help!

Featured image by Nayeli Dalton on Unsplash