How to Get a Virginia Handicap Placard (and Who’s Eligible)

To get a handicap placard, Virginia residents must fill out the proper paperwork and submit it either by mail or in-person at their local DMV.
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
background
To park in a disabled space in
Virginia
, your vehicle must display a handicap placard and/or disabled license plates.
The infrastructure of the United States was built around cars and being able to drive from place to place. Most people don’t think anything of parking in a parking lot and walking to their destination, but what about people who have trouble getting around? 
Whether it’s a temporary injury or a lifelong medical condition, driving presents a special set of challenges to those with disabilities. For that reason, all 50 states have legislated accessible parking. To use these designated parking areas, people with qualifying conditions can apply for a handicap placard or disabled plates. However, the rules and regulations governing the process are different from place to place, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the procedure in the state where you live.
If you number among the 11.5% of Virginians with a reported disability, you might just qualify for a disabled parking placard. To help you get one, we put together this handy little guide to applying for a handicap placard in Virginia.
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How to get a disabled parking placard or plate in Virginia

To be able to park in a disabled space in Virginia, you need to display at least one of the following on your vehicle:
  • A red temporary disabled parking placard (valid for six months or less)
  • A blue permanent disabled parking placard (valid for five years before renewal)
  • A green institutional/organizational disabled parking placard. These are specifically for companies or non-profits that routinely transport disabled people (valid for five years, cannot be renewed but may be reissued).
  • A disabled parking license plate (for drivers with lifelong or otherwise permanent disabilities)
One thing you’ll notice on all of these different passes is the International Symbol of Access (ISA). You’ve probably seen it before, it’s the blue and white stick figure in a wheelchair. That doesn’t mean you have to be in a wheelchair to get one of these passes, though. Keep reading to learn more about who is eligible to apply.

Who is eligible for a disabled parking placard?

In the state of Virginia, the criteria for disabled placard eligibility is mostly based on mobility. Per the law, people suffering from a medical condition that prevents them from walking properly, quickly, or safely can qualify for a disabled parking pass. Here are a few conditions that could qualify someone:
  • Unable to walk for 200 feet or less without stopping
  • Unable to walk without the use of an assistive device like a cane, crutch, or wheelchair
  • Has a serious heart condition
  • Unable to walk because of a physical condition like arthritis
  • Suffers from lung disease
  • Suffers from a developmental condition like autism disorder
  • Has been diagnosed with a cognitive disorder like dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Is considered legally deaf or blind 
Remember that there are both temporary and permanent disabled parking placards. If you have an accident and break your leg, you might apply for a red six-month temporary disabled parking placard to use while you heal. On the other hand, if you have a permanent disability like severe asthma or the inability to walk,  you can likely get a permanent disabled parking placard.
Of course, disabled parking plates are another option, but the downside is that you can only use the plates on one vehicle. If you regularly drive or ride in more than one vehicle, you might find it more convenient to use a placard.

How to apply

Regardless of which disabled parking pass you’re seeking, you’ll have to fill out and submit a
Disabled Parking Plates or Placard Application (MED 10)
. However, you’ll have to fill out an extra form to get disabled plates, the
VSA 10
.
Otherwise, the MED 10 is fairly straightforward. First, you’ll fill out the applicant information, which includes your name, address, date of birth, and other identifying characteristics. Next is the application type section, where you tell them whether you’re applying for a placard, plates, or both. You will then have to sign and certify that you are eligible for a disabled plate or placard.
The next page is for medical certification. You’ll initially be asked whether you have a temporary or permanent disability, but you’ll need a licensed medical professional to complete the remainder of the form.After your doctor certifies your eligibility, all that’s really left to do is send in the form.
There is currently no online option to submit the MED 10, so you’ll have to do it either by mail or in person. You can submit your form in-person at any physical DMV location, or you can send it to their mailing address:
  • Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 85815, Richmond, VA 23285-5815
Note that there is a $5 application fee for both temporary and permanent disabled placards, so make sure to include your payment (check or money order would be best).
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Renewing a disabled parking placard

If you have a temporary disability that will take longer than six months to heal, you will have to fully re-apply for a new temporary pass before your current one expires. If you’re applying to renew a permanent placard, though, you only have to fill out the first page. In other words, your doctor’s certification is not required for a permanent placard renewal.
To renew your placard, you can use any of the methods below:
  • Calling 1-888-337-4782 and speaking to a DMV representative
  • Submitting your renewal form in-person at your local
    DMV customer service center
  • Sending your form in the mail to the address above

Guidelines for veterans with disabilities

Naturally, disabled veterans are also able to procure disabled
parking plates
or placards, albeit via a slightly different process than usual. 
If you are applying for disabled veteran’s license plates, you must present the VSA 10 License Plate Application and either:
  • A MED 10 form signed by a medical professional certifying your disability and a
    Veteran’s Certification of Disability (VSA 54)
    signed by the Veteran’s Administration
  • The VSA 54 form only, signed by both your medical professional and the Veteran’s Administration
Personalized plates are available, and the plate fee is $10 annually (whether for standard or personalized plates). Veterans with qualifying disabilities are exempt from registration fees and are entitled to one set of plates for their personal use vehicle.
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No, you can’t. You can only submit the forms in-person or by mail.
Both permanent and temporary placards in Virginia cost $5.
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