COVID-19 Guidance for safer travel
The Government has now published advice for safer travel during COVID-19 as restrictions are eased. This is available on the NI Direct website.
COVID-19 and motoring
The Government has published advice around vehicle and driver testing and licensing during COVID-19. This is available on the NI Direct website.
Blue Badge Applications and Renewals
Applications and renewals for the Blue Badge Scheme are still being processed during COVID-19. The advice is to use online application / renewal if at all possible. You can apply for or renew your Badge on the NI Direct website.
Postponements of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) Reassessments
The Department for Communities has suspended some PIP reassessments and are issuing six month extensions to awards. This may affect your Blue Badge renewal as the Department for Infrastructure will require evidence of the extension and can only issue the Badge for the 6 month extension. You will have to reapply for the Badge again once the PIP reassessment is completed.
There is an alternative option for applicants experiencing problems with their PIP award. This is to apply / renew your Badge under Section C1 (The Assessed Criteria). Badges issued under the assessed criteria will be valid for 3 years.
Getting photographs during COVID-19
People may have difficulties obtaining a recent photos during COVID-19. The Department for Infrastructure has introduced temporary measures to help people. These are:
- Transferring the photograph from a previous application to the new application
- Allowing the photograph to be taken using a phone or other device and forwarded by email to the Blue Badge team
About this section
Cars and other private vehicles are hugely important to the mobility of many disabled people. This section has details about what is available to assist disabled people to access cars either as a driver or a passenger.
Disabled Motoring UK
Disabled Motoring UK is an organisation that supports disabled drivers, passengers and Blue Badge Holders in the United Kingdom.
Visit the Disabled Motoring UK website.
Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland
The Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland is an organisation that supports disabled drivers and passengers in the Republic of Ireland.
Driving and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
Under the DDA disabled people have certain rights when using car hire and breakdown recovery services.
The Equality Commission
Using your rights under the DDA can be a challenge. The Equality Commission is the body responsible for promoting and enforcing the DDA in Northern Ireland and can give you advice about your rights when using car hire or breakdown recovery services. .
Visit the Equality Commission website.
If you are in receipt of certain benefits you are entitled to access support that is designed to help you travel by car more easily. More detailed information about support available is included in other parts of this section.
Buying or adapting a vehicle can make it easier for many people to continue to travel by car. The NI Direct website has some useful information and advice about adaptations.
On-Street car parking
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) are responsible for providing on-street parking, including accessible parking bays.
Charges are in place for on-street parking in Belfast, Lisburn and Newry city centres. Elsewhere no charges apply but there may be time limits in place.
Blue Badge holders can park with out charge in all on-street bays. Usually Blue Badge holders can also park without time limit in most on-street bays. However there are some accessible parking bays with a 3 hour limit. It is always best to check signage when parking.
DfI are responsible for parking enforcement for on street bays. This is delivered by Traffic Attendants. Traffic Attendants also enforce parking in council car parks. Cars parked in an accessible parking bay on street or in council car park without a Blue Badge will receive a Penalty Charge Notice.
There are some good examples of enforcement of accessible parking bays in other car parks. However too often there is no enforcement and abuse of accessible bays is a problem.
Council car parks
Local councils are responsible for some off-street car parks. Although councils should provide accessible parking not every car park has designated bays. Where charges apply in council car parks, Blue Badge holders must pay. Parking is enforced in most council car parks by Traffic Attendants.
Retail and other car parks
In other car parks service providers are required to provide accessible parking where parking is provided for other members of the public. These bays should be designed to be easily used by disabled people. Unfortunately provision and design of bays varies from place to place.
Motability is a scheme which helps disabled people to lease a new vehicle using a number benefits. Motability also can be used to lease a scooter or power chair.
For further information and advice about the scheme visit the Motability website.
The Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge Scheme helps disabled people travel by car more easily by providing a series of concessions including the use of accessible parking bays and limited parking on yellow lines. You do not have to be the driver to apply for a Blue Badge.
For information about who is eligible for a Blue Badge, responsibilities for Blue Badge holders and how to apply including an online application visit the NI Direct website.
Getting an accessible parking bays near to your house or work
If you have problems parking close to your home or work and you have a Blue Badge you can apply for an accessible parking bay to be provided.
Please note accessible parking bays can be used by any Blue Badge holder and are not specifically allocated to you. For information and advice about applying for a parking bay visit the NI Direct website.
Vehicle Tax Exemption
Some disabled people are entitled to exemption from vehicle tax, depending on the benefits they receive.
For Information about how to apply visit the GOV.UK website.
Learning to drive
There is support and assistance available to help disabled people to learn to drive including applying for a provisional license earlier and support with the theory and practical test.
For more detailed information and advice visit the NI Direct website
Declaring a medical condition or impairment
If you have a condition or impairment that might affect your driving you are required by law to let the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA).
For information about how you can do this visit the NI Direct website.
The Mobility Centre
The Mobility Centre can provide support and advice for disabled people about learning to drive or vehicle adaptations. It also undertakes driver and passenger assessments on behalf of DVA. The Mobility Centre is part of Disability Action.
For more information about the Mobility Centre visit the Disability Action website.