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Posted 08/03/2023 in Placard vs. License Plates

Handicap Placard vs. Handicap License Plates: Which is Right for You in Indiana?

Handicap Placard vs. Handicap License Plates: Which is Right for You in Indiana?

Handicap Placard vs. Handicap License Plates: Which is Right for You in Indiana?


Navigating daily life with a disability can present challenges, but there are solutions that can improve mobility and accessibility. Individuals with disabilities have the option to choose between a handicap placard and handicap license plates in Indiana to assist them with parking privileges. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision on which option is right for you in IN.

Disability Placard vs. Disability License Plates: Which is Right for You in Indiana?

When it comes to obtaining parking privileges for people with disabilities in Indiana, two primary options are available: the placard and license plates. Both options serve the same purpose of providing easier access to parking spaces, but they have some differences in terms of application, benefits, and usage.

Understanding Handicap Placards:

A handicap placard is a removable permit that hangs from the rearview mirror of a vehicle. It is an excellent option for individuals who have temporary disabilities or those who frequently use different vehicles. Here are the key points to know about handicap permits:


To be eligible for a placard in Indiana, individuals must have a qualifying disability as defined by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). These disabilities may include difficulty walking, the need for mobility aids, or medical conditions that significantly impair mobility.

Application Process:

The application process for a disability permit is relatively straightforward. You can apply for it through the IN BMV either online, in person, or by mail. The required documentation usually includes a completed application form, a medical certification form, and proof of identification.


Permits offer several advantages, including convenient parking in designated parking spaces, often located closer to building entrances. Additionally, authorized holders may be exempt from paying parking fees in certain locations.


Despite their benefits, disability permits do have some limitations. The temporary nature of the placard requires regular renewal, usually every few years. Also, these are transferable between vehicles, they may be prone to misuse if given to others who do not have a qualifying disability.

Understanding Handicap License Plates:

Disability license plates are an alternative option for individuals with disabilities in IN. Unlike permits, license plates are permanently affixed to the vehicle. Here are the key points to consider about license plates:


The eligibility criteria for license plates are the same as for permits. Individuals with qualifying disabilities can apply for these plates to enjoy the benefits they offer.

Application Process:

Applying for license plates involves a similar process to that of permits. It requires completing an application form, providing medical certification, and proving identification. The application is submitted to the IN BMV.


License plates provide the same parking privileges as disability permits. However, since they are permanently affixed to the vehicle, there is no need for regular renewals. Moreover, license plates are less susceptible to misuse, as they are not transferable between vehicles.


One of the primary limitations of license plates is their permanence. If an individual's condition improves, they might not need the same level of parking privileges anymore, and removing the license plates can be more complicated than returning a pass.

How to Choose between Handicap Placard and Handicap License Plates:

The decision between a placard and license plates largely depends on individual circumstances and preferences. Here are some factors to consider when making your choice:

1. Duration of Disability:

If your disability is temporary, a pass may be more suitable since it allows for easy transfer between vehicles and has a shorter validity period. For permanent disabilities, license plates offer a convenient and long-term solution.

2. Vehicle Usage:

If you frequently use different vehicles, a permit's portability can be advantageous. On the other hand, if you primarily use one vehicle, license plates provide a permanent solution without the need for transferring the permit.

3. Misuse Concerns:

If you are worried about the misuse of your parking privileges, license plates offer greater security since they are permanently affixed to the vehicle and not transferable.

4. Renewal Hassles:

For individuals who prefer minimal administrative tasks, license plates require less frequent renewals compared to passes.

5. Cost Considerations:

Both options have associated fees, but permits are generally more affordable than license plates. Consider your budget and financial situation when making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: How long is a disability pass valid in IN?

A: Handicap placards in Indiana are typically valid for four years. After this period, you will need to renew your permit.

Q: Can I use a disability pass in any vehicle I'm traveling in?

A: Yes, these are transferable between vehicles as long as the authorized holder is present in the vehicle.

Q: Are there any restrictions on using license plates?

A: License plates can only be used on the vehicle that is registered to the person with a qualifying disability.

Q: Can I apply for both a pass and license plates?

A: No, Indiana law allows individuals to choose either a handicap placard or handicap license plates, not both.

Q: Is there a fee for obtaining disability license plates?

A: Yes, there is a fee associated with obtaining license plates in Indiana, similar to the fee for passes.

Q: Can I use my out-of-state pass or license plate in Indiana?

A: Yes, Indiana recognizes valid passes and license plates from other states. However, it is essential to familiarize yourself with Indiana's specific parking regulations.


Choosing between a handicap placard and handicap license plates in Indiana depends on various factors, including the duration of your disability, the number of vehicles you use, and your preference for portability or permanence. Both options aim to make life more accessible and convenient for individuals with disabilities. Whichever option you select, remember to follow the rules and regulations to ensure that the privilege is used responsibly.

Remember, having a placard or license plate is not just about getting better parking spaces; it is about enhancing the overall quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Embrace the opportunities these privileges provide, and always remember to treat others with kindness and understanding.