People who are new to disabled parking tend to have several questions about the different types of disabled parking spaces. The two main types are regular disabled parking spots and van accessible disabled spots.

So, van accessible parking vs handicap parking… What is the difference? What does “van accessible” mean in a disabled parking spot? Who can use a van accessible disabled spot? And how can you recognize a van accessible spot? Below, we will answer all of these important questions.

What Federal Law Deals With Van Accessible Disabled Parking Spots?

Van accessible parking spots exist in every jurisdiction in the United States. Each state and jurisdiction has its own unique disabled parking program rules and regulations, but all disabled parking programs in all US states must adhere to federal disabled parking rules stipulated in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

van and cars parked on street
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: What does van accessible mean in a disabled parking spot?

What Does Van Accessible Mean In A Disabled Parking Spot?

A van accessible disabled parking spot is a spot that is larger than a regular disabled parking spot. Van accessible spots are for larger vehicles and vehicles that have a wheelchair lift.

Van Accessible Parking vs Handicap Parking: What’s The Difference?

The difference between van accessible disabled parking spots and regular handicap parking spots is the size. So, what are the dimensions required for a van accessible parking space?

  • The parking space must be 132 inches (11 feet) wide
  • The access aisle must be at least 60 inches wide
  • The parking spot can be 96 inches if the access aisle is also 96 inches
  • There must be a minimum of a 98-inch vertical clearance at the parking space, the adjacent access aisle, and on the vehicular route to and from the space

What Do Van Accessible Disabled Parking Spots Look Like?

Van accessible parking spots look like regular disabled spots, but they also have a wide, white-striped access aisle painted on the ground adjacent to the spot, as well as an additional sign that identifies the parking spaces as van accessible. A van accessible parking sign is usually blue, with the International Symbol of Access and the words “Van Accessible”.

Handicap Parking Van Accessible Rules

  • Van accessible handicap spaces can only be used by disabled parking permit holders.
  • Van accessible handicap spaces can only be used by vans with wheelchair lifts.
  • Van accessible handicap spaces must be located on the shortest accessible route of travel to an accessible entrance to the amenity they serve.
  • For every six handicap spaces, one must be a van accessible space.

How Do You Get A Permit To Use Van Accessible Disabled Parking Spots?

The best way to get a permit that will enable you to use van accessible disabled parking spots is to have a telemedicine consultation with a licensed medical professional in your state.

The medical professional will verify your suitability for a disabled parking permit and then complete the relevant sections of a disabled parking application form. You can then complete the form and submit it to your local disabled parking authorities.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions To Use Van Accessible Disabled Parking Spots?

To use van accessible disabled parking spots, a person needs to be traveling in an appropriate type of vehicle and have one of the following disabilities:

  • They cannot walk 200 feet without needing to stop to rest
  • They cannot walk with the aid of an assistive device such as a cane, crutch, wheelchair, or another person
  • They have a heart condition classified in severity as Class III or IV by the American Heart Association
  • They have a lung disease
  • They use a portable oxygen tank
  • They are legally blind
  • They have an orthopedic, neurological, or arthritic condition that severely hampers mobility
van driving on highway
mage by Mikes-Photography on Pixabay: What do van accessible disabled parking spots look like?

What Types Of Disabled Parking Permits Are Available?

All states have versions of the following types of disabled parking permits. All permits entitle their holder to park in van accessible disabled parking spots if they are traveling in an appropriate vehicle:

  • Permanent disabled placard or license plates
  • Temporary disabled placard
  • Disabled Veterans disabled license plate
  • Organizational/Institutional disabled parking permit

Where Are Disabled Parking Permits Valid?

Disabled parking permits from all US states are valid in all other US states, all US overseas territories, and also in the following countries:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • UK
  • EU
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Japan

Featured image by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash