Handicap Parking Rules When Traveling: Will You Get A Handicap Parking Ticket in Other States or Countries?

handicap parking spot

When traveling as a person with a disability, many different aspects have to be planned for, right? One of those aspects that is often overlooked is parking. A handicap parking ticket could really put a damper on an otherwise awesome vacation. In this article, learn what rules are in place when traveling to another state or country, and hopefully you will avoid a handicap parking violation on your next trip.

As a wheelchair user and frequent traveler, one topic that’s important to consider before traveling is handicap parking. There are three areas that this topic breaks into: parking in the United States in your state, in another state in the U.S., and in another country while traveling abroad. Wheelchair users need more space for entering and exiting the vehicle, which means you’ll need a handicap placard or permit while traveling. 

Handicap parking rules are generally the same throughout the United States, but the rules surrounding a permit can be difficult to navigate and may lead to a handicap parking violation and an unwanted ticket. This is a serious issue because fines for parking in a handicap spot, that is parking without the proper permit, are often expensive tickets. The following information strives to break down each of these sections and highlight the best practices to park safely with the access wheelchair users need while following local regulations and avoiding a handicap parking ticket. 

It’s important to remember that no matter where you’re parking, you need to follow all traffic rules and regulations. There are parking rules for parking in public lots, that is in the city, as well as in private parking lots. No matter where the parking space is located, you need to follow the proper handicap parking rules. This information focuses on general parking rules and primarily public parking, but you should also be aware of handicap parking laws on private property and handicap parking spaces on private property as well.

Handicap parking rules in the U.S. in your state

Wheelchair users in the United States will have gone through the process in their state to obtain a valid handicap placard. This is the hanger-style sign that you display from your rearview mirror when you’re parked. A handicap placard is registered to one individual and has a unique registration number as well as an expiration date. It’s important to keep your handicap placard valid by renewing the permit before it expires. Expired handicap placards are not valid and using one can lead to a handicap parking violation and a handicap ticket.

Some wheelchair users may choose a handicap license plate, which displays your parking permit directly on your license plate and it is connected to your vehicle’s registration. Choosing the license plate option can make it easier to manage your valid permit, as it is renewed when you renew your vehicle and there’s no placard to misplace or forget to display. Traveling with a handicap license plate makes parking in other states within the United States easier, as all 50 states recognize a handicap license plate as a valid handicap parking permit. 

The handicap parking rules in your state can be found on your local DMV’s website. This is the easiest way to find all the handicap parking rules outlined in one place. As an example, a search for “New York State DMV Handicap Parking Rules” provided this website, which outlines what you need to park in a handicap parking spot as well as the process for obtaining a valid handicap parking permit and the fines associated with handicap parking violations.

How to avoid a handicap parking ticket in the U.S. in your state

The best way to avoid a handicap ticket in the United States in your state is to register with your local Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV, to obtain a valid and active handicap placard. This will give you access to parking spots marked handicap, with blue paint and the International Symbol of Access. Displaying this placard from the rearview mirror of the vehicle you’re traveling in is the best option for avoiding a fine for parking in a handicap spot. 

Remember that even with your handicap placard you must park legally, that is park in a designated parking spot in order to avoid a handicap parking ticket. These spots are marked in blue paint or with a blue or green curb. Following your local parking regulations, along with the proper display of your permit, is the best practice to avoid a handicap parking violation.

Handicap parking rules in another state in the U.S.

If you are a resident of the United States and you have a valid handicap placard in your state, this handicap parking permit will most likely be valid in the remaining states. That is to say that generally, a valid handicap parking permit in the United States is valid in each of the 50 states. This is especially true for the handicap license plate attached to your vehicle. Since the license plate is directly connected to your vehicle’s registration, it is recognized as valid throughout the United States. 

The handicap placard is removable and can be used in any vehicle, so it’s important to consider the handicap parking rules in the state you’re planning to visit. While most states recognize and accept a valid handicap placard, an out of state placard may also require a temporary travel placard to indicate that your handicap placard is valid and accepted in the state you’re visiting. Not every state requires one, such as New York, but other states, like California, do. 

The best way to approach this is to find the DMV website for the state you’re visiting and explore their handicap parking page. This will give you a better idea of what’s expected and what the process is to obtain a temporary travel placard. In California for example. The “Travel Parking DP Placard” is available through the DMV at no charge, but you must have a valid handicap parking permit in your state, along with a valid ID and proof of your true full name.

How to avoid a handicap ticket in the U.S. in another state

The best way to avoid a handicap parking ticket while traveling or visiting another state is to always properly display your valid handicap parking permit whenever you’re parked. Even if you don’t have a temporary travel placard, it’s important to show your valid permit whenever you’re parking in a handicap parking spot. Ultimately, it’s worth getting a temporary handicap parking permit if you’re going to be visiting another state for a length of time, as this will ensure you’re following the local law with a proper parking permit.

As most valid handicap parking placards are recognized as valid in most of the 50 states, traveling with your U.S. handicap parking permit throughout the United States should be enough to avoid a ticket in the United States while traveling. If you’re going to be in one state for more than a couple of days, it is beneficial to research the state’s requirements for handicap parking permits and if they offer or provide a temporary travel handicap or DP parking permit. Taking this step can help you avoid local handicap parking violations and an expensive fine for parking in a handicap spot, as you can get a parking ticket even if you don’t reside in that state.

Handicap Parking Rules outside of the U.S.

Now that it’s clear how to legally use your handicap permit in the United States and park safely without a parking violation, it’s important to discuss handicap parking rules outside of the United States. This may be something you overlook when planning a trip or vacation, as you may not be driving to your destination, but knowing how to legally park in a handicap spot while on a trip without getting a handicap parking ticket can really make or break your trip. 

A good general rule when traveling outside of the U.S. is to bring your valid handicap placard with you. This is especially true if you’re driving across the U.S. border, as bordering countries may have rules about recognizing U.S. permits. Having your valid permit with you is a good start to demonstrating your need for a handicap parking space, but it’s important to research local parking laws, just like when you’re traveling in the U.S., to ensure you have the proper permit to park legally. 

Driving from the United States to Mexico, you may not be able to use your handicap parking permit, as Mexico may not honor your placard. When traveling to Canada, it’s best to research the rules at your destination, as Canada may recognize your placard if it is visible. The best way to approach using your handicap parking permit outside of the U.S. is to search for “visiting (destination) can I use my handicap placard” along with researching the parking regulations for your destination.

How to avoid a ticket outside of the U.S.

The best way to avoid a handicap parking ticket while traveling outside of the United States is to do your research before your trip. Knowing the local regulations at your destination is the best way to know if you can use your handicap placard, if you need to apply for a temporary placard, and if your destination honors handicap parking in general. 

If you are flying to your destination the same approach applies. You may also need to contact your rental car company as they may have resources to help you understand the local handicap parking rules and may have insight into if you can use your handicap placard while you’re visiting. If you will be traveling with friends or relatives at your destination, those who may be driving as opposed to using a car service or public transportation, be aware of the local handicap parking permit and parking rules to avoid a handicap parking ticket. 

By researching your destination you will become aware of the local rules regarding handicap parking as well as local traffic laws and parking laws. This is the best way to avoid a ticket and park safely throughout your stay. 

Can someone use their regular handicap parking placard when traveling? 

The short answer to this question is, it depends. Using your regular handicap parking placard while traveling depends on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. While most of this question has been answered, here are the main points to remember while traveling:

● Traveling in the U.S. in your state: YES, you can use your regular handicap parking placard

● Traveling the U.S. in another state: YES, for the most part, you can use your regular handicap parking placard. If you’ll be in the state for an extended amount of time, you may need a temporary travel handicap parking permit

● Traveling outside of the U.S.: MAYBE, this is greatly dependent on where you’re going and what the local rules are. Some destinations like Canada may participate in recognizing U.S. handicap placards while others may not.

Best practice for traveling with a handicap parking placard

● Always properly display your handicap parking placard any time you’re parked in a designated handicap parking spot.

● Understand and follow all local rules and regulations for parking in a handicap parking spot. 

● When traveling, bring your handicap parking placard with you to demonstrate your approval and need for a designated spot within the United States.

● Research the traffic laws and parking regulations at your destination, both within the United States and abroad. 

● Apply for a temporary travel handicap parking permit if you are visiting a state in the U.S. that requires one (this can be found on the state’s DMV website).

● If you are visiting a destination that does not recognize a U.S. handicap parking placard as valid, be sure to research what that destination does recognize or how to go about gaining permission to park in local handicap parking spots.

● Understand that you must obey traffic laws and park legally with your handicap parking permit. Parking on private property must be done legally as well, even if you need a handicap parking spot and there aren’t any designated as such.

Traveling with a handicap parking placard is the best way to avoid a handicap parking ticket, along with knowing the local rules and regulations. Needing a handicap parking spot shouldn’t deter you from traveling, both within the United States and beyond. Often, you can be accommodated whether that’s because your destination honors your parking permit, you qualify for a travel permit, or the destination has specific rules to allow you access. If you can’t find information about the local handicap parking, consider a car service, taxi, or public transportation. These avenues can save you the hassle of needing to find parking during your trip and accessible options are available in a variety of destinations. 




  • Teresa Plenge says:

    What do you recommend when 2 handicapped placards are needed by the same person. For example, I travel solo often. I leave my car at the ATL airport in an airport lot in a designated handicapped space. For this I need my valid GA placard to be visible in the car. I fly to my destination where I have arranged for rental of an accessible van. In Colorado, for example, the placard comes with the rented van so I don’t need my own .However, when I travel to other states and rent a vehicle, such as Arizona, their state does not provide for the rental companies to have placards. The placards go to individuals only. Since my placard is needed in Arizona AND Georgia at the same time, what should I do.?

  • Bong Junior says:

    Hey Cory Lee! Every time I read your blog, I feel highly motivated.

  • Nathan Jones says:

    Great tips, Cory! My friends and I are planning to visit Michigan probably later this year and these tips are helpful. There’s this one time when my friend got issued a handicap parking ticket and it was not good at all. Rules here in Sydney may not be the same as in Michigan and we need to be fully aware of that. Thanks!

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