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Swings and Roundabouts: How to Get a Disability Parking Permit

Across Australia thousands of disability parking permits (DPP) have been supplied to people with disabilities to make life a little easier when travelling. Anyone with an impairment that limits their mobility is eligible to apply for one.

As part of their DPP, holders are eligible for certain allowances and entitlements to accommodate their mobility restrictions such as free parking and the ability to park longer in time limited spaces.

While a necessity for so many, the convenience of parking in an accessible space combined with the extra benefits a permit provides can for unscrupulous individuals to attempt getting one fraudulently.

Thankfully, it’s not so easy for these selfish people to do so. The process of qualifying for a disability parking permit is by no means easy or quick; and includes numerous checks and balances to ensure the applicant is deserving of the permit.

Furthermore, despite popular opinion, you cannot purchase a disability parking permit in Australia.

Before we look into how to get a disability parking permit, let’s explore what it is exactly.

What is a Disability Parking Permit?

Today, there are three types of DPP: Individual, Temporary and Organisation. These replaced more than 100 different types of permits that were once available, and they were introduced with increased security features to reduce fraudulent misuse and to make it easier for permit holders to travel interstate.

These new regulations have helped standardise the qualifying criteria for disability parking permits across Australia and, in doing so, increased the difficulty for an able-bodied person sneakily being approved for one. Contrary to some opinions a DPP is not easy to come by because there are a number of hoops to jump through to attain one.

Let’s look at what the permit allows.

What a DPP allows you to do

Disability parking permits allow drivers to park in designated spaces featuring the international access symbol and permit holders are also given concessions for parking in time-limited spaces.

As the Australian Disability Parking Scheme website says, “Permit holders can park in parking spaces showing the international symbol of access and can receive concessions in most public parking spaces where the sign or meter shows specific time limits.”

Every state and territory must meet the minimum national standards as a starting point. From there they have the flexibility to provide further concessions to meet their DPP holders’ needs. This is why parking permit regulations differ in each state and territory.

This means that if you’re travelling interstate you need to be aware that your usual concessions may not apply. And if you are planning to move interstate permanently you need to re-apply for a permit in your new state/territory as soon as you get a chance to. Click here to read about using your permit interstate.

Even though rules differ between each, in most cases the DPP holder needs to renew the permit with their local authority every three to five years.

The steps to get a disability parking permit different in each state and territory too, though again only slightly. Here are the facts.

Application Criteria to Get a Disability Parking Permit

So, just how easy is it for someone to fly under the radar and obtain a permit that should not be in their hands? What evidence do you need to apply for an Individual disability parking permit?

In most states, at the very least you need to demonstrate that it’s difficult for you to walk 100m or without some assistance (e.g. using a walker, wheelchair or other mobility equipment). That is, eligibility centres on one’s capacity to walk.

For example, to be eligible in New South Wales you must either be blind (this is not the case for a number of other states/territories) or have a mobility disability. There, a mobility disability is defined by legislation as someone:

  • Unable to walk due to the permanent or temporary loss of use of one or both legs, or other permanent medical or physical condition
  • Whose physical condition is detrimentally affected as a result of walking 100 metres, or
  • Who requires the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, scooter, wheelchair or other similar mobility aid.

If you’re a Queensland resident, you may be eligible if one of the following applies to you:

  • Unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair
  • Ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability that you will have for 6 months or more as certified by your doctor or occupational therapist.

Further, Queensland applicants with intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive or sensory impairment who want to get a disability parking permit don’t meet the eligibility criteria on that alone. They must also have a mobility impairment that impacts on their ability to walk.

While in Western Australia, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair, or
  • Your ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or disability, or
  • Your ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability.

And in South Australia, you can apply to get a disability parking permit if these factors reflect your situation:

  • A permanent physical impairment or a temporary impairment that is likely to continue for more than six months
  • The impairment severely restricts speed of movement
  • The impairment significantly inhibits the ability to access public transport.

Steps to Get a Disability Parking Permit

If the above sounds like you or you loved one then you’re halfway there. Now comes the paperwork.

In most states and territories the steps involve:

  1. Complete an application form.
  2. Meet with a GP to discuss whether they agree that you need a disability parking permit. If they do, they must complete part of the application form to define and substantiate the medical reasons why you need the permit[1]. In many cases, they have to include documentation detailing your medical condition, how long you have had the condition and how it impacts your mobility.
  3. Some GPs may also need a letter from your occupational therapist.
  4. Send/take the application to the offices of the issuing authority (mode of delivery depends on your state/territory).
  5. Along with the application you’ll also need to present documentary evidence such as proof of identity and you may also need to present a Centrelink disability pension card, supporting letter/s, photo exemption letter, and so on.

Not the easiest of processes but one that helps keep out many dishonest people who try to get a disability parking permit because they simply want the concessions rather than need them.

[1] * Note this does not need to happen in some cases, e.g. in the ACT and NSW being endorsed as ‘blind’ on a Centrelink disability pension card is enough proof

Who is allowed to use a DPP?

There are different types of disability parking permits issued for different usage types, which we touched on earlier:

  1. Individual– Issued for 5 years to people with a permanent disability.

These individuals can use their permit, obviously, and so can their family, friends and support workers – but only when transporting the permit holder in a vehicle. Using someone’s permit when they are not in the vehicle can results in hefty fines.

  1. Temporary– Issued for up to 6 months to people with a temporary disability, for example a leg injury.

These same rules as above apply in this situation and it’s courtesy to do away with the permit before the time limit if the temporary disability has been resolved. Let’s leave the accessible parking spaces and concessions for those who really need it.

  1. Organisation– Available only to organisations that provide transport for people with disabilities.

Similarly, workers from the organisation can only use the disability parking permit when it is providing transport services for people who meet the permit eligibility criteria

Where things can appear to grey a little – but this is only perception – is when people have disabilities that aren’t obvious.

Parking permits for invisible disabilities

What a lot of abled people don’t realise, and even some who are living with a visible disability, is that there are many individuals across Australia who are living with  invisible disabilities (or, hidden disabilities). And although their disability isn’t immediately apparent because they don’t always use mobility equipment like wheelchairs and mobility scooters, often they need an Individual disability permit too because their condition prevents them from walking long distances without significant difficulty and/or pain.

Just like those with a visible disability, their eligibility for a DPP comes down to their functional capacity to walk, the restrictions they experience with their mobility.

More importantly, these people must apply for the permit in the same way as those with visible disabilities. This means they have acquired them legally (and somewhat painstakingly) and are entitled to use accessible parking spaces.

Invisible disabilities are wide-ranging and include cancer, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. For many, their invisible disability unfortunately limits their ability to move and be active, just like a visible one can.

So, many individuals with an invisible disability very much have the right to appreciate the benefits of a disability parking permit.

Whatever the case, visible or invisible, it’s important to know that those who have been issued a disability parking permit – after jumping through all the hoops – deserve to be able to park closer, have more time to return to the car and so on. They’re entitled to the space, no matter what things look like on the surface.

Another Benefit of a DPP – Discounted Car Insurance

Have you taken the steps to get a disability parking permit, been approved and are now wondering if you’re eligible for something else to help make life a little easier? Read on…

Blue Badge Insurance know that most insurers don’t understand disabilities and often quote higher premiums. Mistakenly, they consider disability permit users to be high-risk drivers.

Not so with us. As Australia’s first independence and disability insurance specialist, Blue Badge understands this space. We know disability permit holders are generally safer drivers who represent a lower risk and we think they deserve to be rewarded with lower prices.

Find out more about our car insurance for disability parking permit holders here.

42 Comments

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  1. Elisabeth Rio says:

    I didn’t see the cost mentioned.

    1. Blue Badge says:

      Thanks for your comment Elisabeth. There usually isn’t a cost associated with the Disability Parking Permit however its best to check with the issuing authority in your state.

      1. phillip says:

        $65.00 in nsw if you are under 65 or not on penshion

        1. Jules says:

          Cost nothing in Qld.

        2. Pauline says:

          I’ve had dpp before and never been charged for it

      2. Ray says:

        $20 in South Australia

  2. Elda Quinton says:

    And they are quick to rescind it. Less than 2 weeks after my husband died I received a letter advising me to return his disability sticker

  3. Lyle Crosthwaite says:

    If i see a car pull into a disabled bay with no disabled card and park am i allowed to take a photo of it and report it as i have seen this happen on a number of times.

    1. Blue Badge says:

      Hi Lyle, thanks for your comment. We actually published a blog post on this very issue. Here’s a link to it – https://www.bluebadgeinsurance.com.au/new-app-report-illegal-parking/ . We hope that answers your questions!

  4. Gloria says:

    I am sick to death of seeing people without a disability using another family members PP, plus some try to fake a disability when they leave the vehicle until they think they are out of sight and then take off running.

    1. Mark says:

      Totally agree, we even have a few at our local golf course who park in disabled spots with permit in window then jump out, get clubs out and walk around 18 holes with no troubles. When questioned they say it’s their permit and their right to use it.

      1. Ben says:

        That makes me so sad and mad at the same time?

  5. Eric says:

    What can we do when we see someone parks the car and then puts the disabled sticker on the dashboard, these permits should only be valid if permanently attached to the front window!!

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Eric, that’s an interesting point you’ve made. As far as we are aware this isn’t illegal, as long as there is a valid disability parking permit displayed when parked.

    2. Shaye Arnold says:

      My sister and I share taking our 92 year old father to medical appointments etc and we need his permit in both our cars when he is with one of us. Having the permit permanently attached to the front windscreen would mean he can’t travel in anyone else’s car.

      1. Marcus says:

        My dad is 93 and has a permit If i park in the disabled parking bay my dad has to walk to the entrance .. if I stop at the entrance and let him out i have saved him some walking distance ( Common Sense ) Should i then use a disable parking bay … It does not benefit him but it does benefit me .. as i said he has a permit ????? Marcus

    3. Denise Gibson says:

      I put my disability sticker on the dash because it won’t stay on the windshield and sometimes I am in my daughter’s car and need the sticker for when we go shopping together. It’s no good to me permanently stuck to my car when I am with someone else.

    4. Beverley says:

      They can’t be permanently attached because they can be used in different cars. It is not the car that has the sticker it is the person. if someone else drives a disabled person around they can park in the spot and use the sticker.

    5. Sadie Mehan says:

      Hi Eric, I carry a Disable Sticker but my Husband does not we both drive our car so it clearly states he is not allowed to use it. I then sometimes realize the sticker is not up and have to put in place Left hand side front window. They should only be displayed in a car with a person carrying a sticker I will take with me if traveling with my Daughter.

      1. Sue Bailey says:

        If you’re a passenger in the car when he’s driving, then, yes it can be used.

    6. Sue Bailey says:

      I have a Parking Permit. I rarely leave it on the dashboard or stuck on my window. I prefer to have it in the console of my car so that I can then place it on my dashboard. If I need to travel in my carer’s car, I can quickly get it and use it whilst I’m a passenger in his car. The parking permits also go very dark and discolour if they’re left in the sun for long periods. I’ve never had anyone comment on the way I use my permit.

      1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

        That’s a good idea Sue. We are pleased to hear that you haven’t received any comment about how you use your permit 🙂

    7. Paul says:

      When you go to the RMS (NSW) to get your permit they actually tell not to leave it permanently in the window as the sun deteriorates the holder. I was told to keep it in the glove box until I parked then put it on the dashboard. I was also told that they won’t keep replacing the holder due to sun damage, that makes them crack.

      1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

        Hi Paul, that was good advice from the RMS. Our Aussie summers would definitely cause a bit of damage.

    8. My permit is all cracked by the weather,and I am unable to put it on the window.thats why I put it on the dash when parked.

    9. Barry says:

      We don’t get a sticker in SA we get a hanger which always distorts in the summer and can become impossible to hang from the rear view mirror so you have to place them on your dash

  6. Geoffrey says:

    Having worked as ranger I experienced many situations where it looked like the permits should not have been issued.it looked like the doctors were giving old people full disabled permits when they should have been giving them x2 permits.these double their parking time in normal parking spots to allow for their slower walking.

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Geoffrey, there are many reasons why a disability parking permit might be issued. An x2 permit sounds interesting, thanks for sharing that insight with us.

  7. TOM FRANCIS says:

    What a load of rubbish I live in QLD after having two major lower back operations,I applied for a temporary parking permit to witch I couldn’t walk even 20 mtrs,after seeing three doctors including my back specialist,I was still refused,it is still hard for me to walk 100 mtrs,I do have xrays on how my back is and how it looks I still can’t get one,so what are people saying to get one when a genuine person can’t get ONE !

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Tom, we are sorry to hear that this has happened. We wish you all the best.

  8. Tony papa says:

    Tony papa I have multiple slceroses 4 discs fused lower back 3 discs fused in my neck artificial hip and and I have a disibility pass been in the car for years applied for new one before Christmas which has been 3 months every time I contact them they say where on to it very poor service if any with no response the dis pass you can’t because it’s been in the sun for so long

    1. John says:

      I was questioned about the need for my sticker by a person that parked in a blue bay without one as i have cardio myopathy short distance walks nearly kills you so invisible disability’s is so frustrating to those idots who insist in parking in blue zones

  9. Ron Thornton says:

    Hi, I have a daughterwith a severe intellectual disability, and she requires assistance to walk, but Qld Transport refuse to give me a parking permit, as they require her GP to state she has an impairment with her legs, which the GP couldn’t do as this is not the case,since then I have been told that many doctor’s will write what is required to make a successful application, having to Transport regarding this they said it is not their problem, very frustrated with their ignorance

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Ron, this much be very frustrating! We hope you get the help and support you need, so this works positively for you and your daughter.

  10. GORDON says:

    My wife and I have difficulty walking. Since we have only 1 car we applied for a single permit in her name to save costs. We are both seniors and on a limited income. Can I use the permit if she’s not in the car or do I have to incur additional costs and get my own permit

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Gordon, thanks for your question. Our understanding is that the permit holder must be in the vehicle. It’s best to speak with your GP about getting a disability parking permit for you, as they will help determine if you’re eligible.

  11. Sheila Rowland says:

    Can a vehicle with DPP sticker doesn’t have the disabled person in it at the time, parks in a DPP spot ?

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Sheila, permit holders must be in the car when parking in a disabled parking bay.

  12. Anthony Malcolm Schultz says:

    I’ve got a disability permit, yet people look at me and I look normal (apart from being ugly), people have never challenge me. If they did I would show them all my scars but they dont know I suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury). So I suppose I’m lucky I can still talk a act like a normal human, but what goes on inside my house no-one sees.

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Anthony, you’re absolutely correct. Your permit is your right, you never have to explain yourself.

  13. Wynter P YOUNG says:

    Where do you get the permit form please?

    1. Blue Badge Insurance says:

      Hi Wynter, it’s best to start with a visit to your GP as they will need to sign-off on this form.

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