How to Get an Iowa Handicap Placard (and Who’s Eligible)

Drivers must display a disabled license plate or placard with the International Symbol of Access to use a disabled parking space in Iowa.
Written by Brittni Brinn
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
To use a disabled parking space in Iowa, you must have a disabled license plate, sticker, or placard displaying the International Symbol of Access (ISA).
If a driver has a temporary or permanent disability, finding accessible parking can be a challenge. To ensure that disabled drivers or passengers always have available parking, every state provides designated spots for vehicles with a disabled parking placard or license plates. However, the requirements and rules for use differ between states.
If you’re one of the 10% of Iowans with a disability affecting mobility, you can apply for a disabled parking placard. Read on to learn about the eligibility requirements and the application process for disabled parking placards in Iowa.
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How to get a disabled parking placard or plate in Iowa

You’ll need one of these permits to park in a disabled space anywhere in Iowa: 
  • Permanent handicap placard: No expiration date
  • Temporary handicap placard: Expires after six months
  • Permanent handicap license plates and stickers: Valid for one year with self-certification so long as the
    vehicle registration
    is current
  • Placard for organizations: Available for federally-certified groups helping to transport disabled people
Whether you have a disabled parking placard or a license plate—or both!—your permit will feature the International Symbol of Access (ISA). The easy-to-recognize blue-and-white stick figure with a wheelchair applies to anyone with a disability, not just the people who use mobility aids.

Who’s eligible for a disabled parking placard?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of conditions that qualify for a disabled parking placard in Iowa:
  • You can’t walk 200 feet without rest
  • Have reduced respiratory function, such as severe asthma, which can be determined from a pulmonary lung function test
  • You have extremely limited mobility because of an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition (this includes things like a knee injury, lower back pain, or even fibromyalgia)
You are eligible for a temporary handicap placard if you have acquired an injury or other condition that affects your mobility on a short-term basis—such as a busted ankle, resulting in a months-long recovery from surgery. You’ll need to use crutches or another mobility aid to get around while you’re rehabilitating, but it’s unlikely that you’ll continue to need crutches for longer than the six months the temporary placard is valid for. 
Permanent disabilities aren’t always visible. Some conditions, like Multiple Sclerosis, can hamper mobility and require accommodation. If you meet any of the above criteria, you can apply for a permanent handicap placard
You can also apply for a disabled parking license plate, but you’ll have to renew the sticker and
license plates
annually with your registration.

How to apply

To apply for any of the available disabled parking placards, you’ll first need to fill out an
Application for Persons with Disability Parking Permit for Iowa Residents (Form 411055)
, which you can pick up at a County Treasurer’s Office or print online.
You’ll also need to get a medical statement from your physician, chiropractor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner on letterhead stationery confirming your disability.
You can bring the completed application and medical statement to your nearest Iowa Office of Vehicle Services in person or mail it to:
Office of Vehicle Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
PO Box 9278
Des Moines
, Iowa 50306-9278
You can also apply for disability stickers at the Office of Vehicle Services. Plates, however, are available through the County Treasurer’s Office. 
No fee is required for disabled parking placards. You will need to pay the regular license plate fee and Iowa’s annual vehicle registration fee when you renew.
MORE: How to register a car in Iowa

Renewing a disabled parking placard

Temporary handicap placards generally only last for six months—if you still need one after this time, you’ll have to apply for a new one with an updated medical certificate.
Permanent placards do not have an expiration date and do not need to be renewed. Disability stickers and plates, on the other hand, must be renewed each year with your vehicle registration.
Key Takeaway To apply for any disabled parking placard, you must fill out the appropriate form and include a medical certificate from a licensed medical practitioner.

Guidelines for veterans with disabilities

If you are an Iowa resident, are a veteran, and have been provided a vehicle by the government, you can apply for a disabled veteran plate.
You’ll need certification from
the VA
of your disabled veteran status, and that your vehicle is specially adapted and provided by the U.S. Government. You can then submit your request to the County Treasurer’s Office where the vehicle was registered. Once your plates are ready, you’ll be notified.
After you pick up your disabled veteran plates, you’ll need to replace your current plates. The new plates must be renewed by the expiry date.
Key Takeaway In addition to the appropriate application, you’ll also need to include a medical statement from your doctor or other licensed medical professional confirming your disability. 
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You won’t have to renew your Permanent handicap placard, as it never expires. If you need your Temporary handicap placard for longer, you’ll have to complete a new application and get an updated medical certification.
No matter what type of handicap placard you need in Iowa, there are no fees to get one.
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