Use of US issued handicap placards in Europe

I know some countries, eg EU, issue handicap placards. Are US (blue-H) handicap placards honored also? How about parking in time limited spaces?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Every country is different. Europe is a bit vague, could you specify, please?

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

I don't know all the specifics of handicap parking. What I know is that in most places, handicap parking provisions entail only parking on a disabled-signed spot, often without exemption for payment and/or time limits.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
780 posts

I answered in the other thread started by the OP. Could do with a merge ...

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
281 posts

Fortunately Europe has not lowered itself to the American standards utilized to qualify a person as being "handicapped", therefore far fewer HC spaces exist.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4765 posts

They don't merge on this forum. mccmountainview can go to the other post and simply delete it.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1356 posts

@ steven

Fortunately Europe has not lowered itself to the American standards utilized to qualify a person as being "handicapped", therefore far fewer HC spaces exist.

i dont think they should either. There is soooooo many people using it for their own personal benefit even though they arent truely HC. Seattle is taking them away. PDX needs to too.

happy trails.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Prior to the change to the new format, there have been a couple reports of people getting tickets when using the Am handicap placards. One was complaining that they had been "told" that the placard was accepted but still received the ticket. Not sure what you are asking about parking in time limited spaces. When your time is up, you will get the ticket if the ticket writer comes by. Why would you be exempt from expired time parking?

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

I should probably add as well that for a tourist, handicap placards aren't terribly useful in Europe, unless you're shopping for groceries at a store on the outskirts of a town or city. It's pretty rare for a museum or monument to have a parking lot immediately adjacent. At best, you'll get a spot a little closer to the edge of the lot or near the entrance to the parking garage, but neither of these are likely to sit right next to the site you're trying to visit.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
780 posts

"They don't merge on this forum. mccmountainview can go to the other post and simply delete it."

Ah - the 'merge' was my allusion to this being a traffic issue. There seemed to be a number of double posts over the last day.

The website with the best info is http://www.fiadisabledtravellers.com/ although it may be somewhat out of date now.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
281 posts

Most likely going to get in trouble, but...........
In the USA there folks take pride in obtaining a HC sticker to park 20 yards from the entrance of Walmart.
In Europe I often see elderly folks taking pride in walking great distances to get to the market.
I know, not much in the spirit of this forum, but it just chaps my butt .........

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

"going to get in trouble, but..."

Pain may not be readily apparent. Lack of breath may not be readily apparent.

Ignorance, unfortunately, can be very apparent.

Edited to add: I see that you re-worded your initial post... that is a positive move.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

While WAY too many people in the US have HC placards that they absolutely do not deserve to have, which makes getting a HC parking spot more difficult for people who have a real handicap, Diane is absolutely right. My son has a HC placard, he has severe heart disease (has had 4 open heart surgeries so far) and many health issues as a result, but his handicap is not obvious (many are not) and many times people have screamed at us or made snide remarks when he was young, or him now that he's an adult and it is very upsetting when it happens. So please do not assume that someone who appears to be healthy is scamming the system.
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"Not sure what you are asking about parking in time limited spaces. When your time is up, you will get the ticket if the ticket writer comes by. Why would you be exempt from expired time parking? "
Frank, I think the op is referring to the fact that in the US, when you use a placard, you can park in the spot as long as you want. You are not limited to the time posted.
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mccmountainview, We have never taken my son's HC placard to Europe with us, we've always assumed it's not valid there. And I've read it's not. As Tom said, as a tourist I don't think it would be of much help even if you could use it. Europe is very handicapped unfriendly. There is no ADA equivalent there. I do not know how people in wheelchairs manage to get around... it's impossible.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Tough one.. I don't think we have same problem here re folks getting HA placards so easily that system is abused,, so I was a bit taken aback by those insisting the cards were given out too easily.

I also concur with Diana and Susan.. people need to sh*t up when deciding they are the judge of who is really handicapped .. you simply do not know.. don't care what you say.. you do not know . People can be young, old, slim , fat, in a wheelchair or walking just fine.. you do not know the issue.

I am shocked that a placard in the States allows for someone to overpark though.. thats simply not fair and can see why some folks get resentful.. Having a HA sticker should only allow you a closer more convenient spot.. not a free spot. Pay for the time you use like everyone else. I can see that no towing would be allowed though.. but a ticket , yes.

But for the sake of mcmountainview intial post.. I think the best point was made by Tom. the placard is hardly useful for tourists in some cities.. I will only address Paris as I am most familiar with it.. there is no close by parking , placard or not.. near most tourist sites . Renting a car for city use is simply not useful. Take a taxi or a bus.. even if handicapped it will get you closer to front doors.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

The reasoning behind no time limit is that if you're handicapped, and especially if you need a wheelchair, it takes much more time and effort to get out of the car, get to where you're going, get around to more than one store, try on clothes, etc. and get back. Not fair to expect a handicapped person to accomplish what they need in the same amount of time as an able-bodied person.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

One of the big US abuses that is well documented is other family members using the placards for their convenience.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2381 posts

Well, to try to get back to the original question....I would say that the answer appears to be "no".

There are actually reciprocal agreements regarding the placards similar to Drivers Licenses and the IDP, but according to the following site: http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/IntOrg/ecmt/accessibility/parking.html

The US and Europe do not have an agreement. You can use your placard in Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand; and residents in EU countries can use their placards throughout the EU, but not here.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
746 posts

"One of the big US abuses that is well documented is other family members using the placards for their convenience. " That is illegal, and a traffic citation with points will be issued ,IF anyone takes the time or energy to report, or if the cops check. My state now issues the Handicapped passes with picture ID front and centre on the card to help prevent this abuse.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
780 posts

The info in the web link in the post 2 before this one seems to be out of date compared with the site I referenced.

The actual operation of the badge systems vary greatly from one country to another. For example in the UK it is more set around being able to park for free in the street where no parking is generally allowed, rather than car parks, which may have spaces set aside but still charge.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

I think we may be talking in an empty room. The OP has never returned to clarify any details of their journey.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

Maybe because op's don't get notified when there's a post on their thread? Or maybe he got tired of us... lol.

Posted by Maureen
San Francisco
112 posts

Just FYI, we used our blue HC placard for 3 weeks driving through Provence and the French Riviera. We actually found some HC parking spaces open to park. We never had a problem and in one small town we stopped and asked a police officer where there was HC parking and he directed us to it. Also I used my HC certificate from the DMV that has my name on it along with my ID and this will get you in free or discounted to museums and attractions in Paris and throughout France. There are also special entrances to go straight in and skip lines. You just have to do some research.

Posted by Maureen
San Francisco
112 posts

P.S. Another reason parking is free and admissions discounted, etc. , is that most HC people can't work, and are on a limited income/benefit.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
281 posts

I "get" the reasons why people are offended by the insensitivity of my comment, but I wonder if they are offended by the rampant abuse of the system? It is the abuse of the system which I find insensitive.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

I’m sure there is abuse of this system. Heck…I just read an article about how some people abuse the system for certifying service dogs. Apparently, anyone can get their plain old pet certified via the internet for a small fee. You’ll receive an official-looking certificate and a little service dog outfit for your pooch. I have no idea what benefits that might afford someone. Anyway, it would be impossible for any of us to tell if someone with a disabled parking permit has acquired it legitimately or not. Are you saying your “butt gets chapped” when you see folks parking in disabled spaces because you know there is a certain percentage of abuse in the system (and maybe the person doesn't look disabled to you)? It’s not just because somebody gets to park closer than you, is it?

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

Marbles, As the mom of a legitimately handicapped son I am VERY upset by the rampant abuse. It only hurts the truly handicapped. Makes it much harder for a legitimately handicapped person to find a handicapped parking spot. And most places, other than a Costco, WalMart, Disneyland, do not have a lot of handicapped spaces to begin with, if any. San Francisco is a prime example. Yes, I am VERY upset by how easy it is to get a HC placard... it's obscene. People that use a relative's placard are beyond despiccable. If I knew someone was doing that I would call the police.
I think it's important though, at the same time, to not ASSUME someone is not legitimately handicapped even if they walk well and look healthy.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
281 posts

I am blessed to be healthy and always choose the walk. There probably are times i mis-judge if a person is handicapped w a non visible issue and i accept the criticism and will learn from it. I am surprised by the comment there are some retail centers w/o hc designated spaces as all are now required, and have been for over a decade, to provide hc spaces (fyi: i am a retail developer w over 25 years experience). The greater issue is the sense of entitlement people develop from wanting to possess what they desire without regard to what other people actually need.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

I'm not talking about "retail centers". If you mean shopping centers, yes they have handicapped spots but they're still a tiny fraction of how many non-handicapped spots there are, at least in the area where I live. There are 100's of other examples that are not retail centers. Streets of towns and cities (San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento...) for starters.
Glad though that you will re-think assuming.... : ) But I do understand, because it is so abused. And as I said, the only people the abusers hurt are the truly handicapped.

Posted by Tom
Stafford, Virginia, USA
138 posts

I did some research on this topic a couple of years ago when we went to Germany, and here is the information I received:

On roads and in car parks, parking places reserved for disabled people are marked with a road sign (wheelchair symbol). Do not, however, park on spaces marked with a parking card number reserving them for certain disabled people.

Parking on roads
•You may park for up to 3 hours on roads where parking is prohibited - also in no-parking zones.
•You may exceed the allowed parking period on roads where parking is restricted by time - also in restricted-parking zones.
•You may park free of charge and without time limit on roads with parking meters or pay-and-display parking.
•You may park up to 3 hours in resident's parking areas.
•You may park outside the marked spaces in traffic-calmed areas without obstructing the traffic.
•Do not drive or park in pedestrian zones unless it is expressly permitted by local concessions. Check locally. For even if it is permitted, you are only allowed to enter and park there during specific vehicle access times.

The above regulations apply unless there is another parking facility available at a reasonable distance. The maximum parking period is 24 hours.

Parking in private car parks

Ask the car park attendant on the spot whether disabled people are granted parking privileges.

Reciprocal Recognition

Germany uses the EU model badge. ECMT Resolution has not been implemented. In Germany, the Federal States (Bundesländer) are the appropriate authorities for the surveillance of road traffic and they have rejected this in the past. Reasons included likely difficulties caused by varying documents/badges (different style etc.) and possible language difficulties.

Recommendation for disabled people from associated ECMT countries is to get in touch with the local authorities responsible for road traffic at their place of residence, to see what kind of special parking permission is suitable or if the parking badge of the home country is sufficient.

Contact

Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs
Division S32
Robert-Schuman-Platz 1
D-53175 Bonn
E-mail: Ref-S32@bmvbs.bund.de

This does not answer the question of whether U.S. handicapped placards will be honored in Europe. I was told that the best thing to do would be to contact local officials when you arrive in your destination country.

Posted by stan
Kansas City, Missouri
219 posts

I've got to ask. Do you think a parking cop in a US city would recognize and honor a handicapped placard in Ukrainian, Gaelic, or Portugese? I don't, not unless they were in a very generous mood... uh, I mean tolerant. Same reaction I would expect of a US placard in a foreign country.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
780 posts

There is a common European model for parking cards, so the layout is the same whatever country issued it.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

"HC permits are not enforced in the in the USA regardless of language."

That's a pretty general statement, not sure how you could ever know what happens across the entire USA, but I know for a fact they're enforced in San Diego, I've personally written tickets for violations.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
281 posts

Barry,
Gratefully appreciate your help with enforcing this law. If you are a first responder you have my admiration and appreciation. I am a retail development consultant who works with developers across the nation (a favorite game is to challenge someone to name a mall or shopping center within the USA or Canada and I will tell them what city it is located within). The HC permit is widely abused and rarely enforced within private property. On streets the HC permit is more apt to be enforced if there is no permit at all. But, the ability to obtain a HC sign is too easy (you can download a template from the internet) so striving to enforce the law is tougher.
Again, thanks for your efforts.
Be safe.

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

I went online to check before a trip to the UK, France and Spain last year. There are agreements in those three countries to respect each other's placards. It's not hard for local police--the big schematic wheelchair symbol is easy to understand! I found more disabled parking places in the UK than in France or Spain, though. But it was definitely a real help in making travel possible (I was using a walking frame at that time, now I'm able to get by with a quad cane). The most helpful was in the UK where there was often parking adjacent to a stately home or tourist attraction as opposed to having to park a long way away.

It was a sad day the day my temporary disabled placard expired. But then again, it was also a happy day, too. Getting around with only a cane is a real luxury after being chairbound and then dependent on a walker for so long.

My pet peeve? People with disabled placards who use a van accessible slot instead of a regular disabled slot when they aren't in a chair in a van! Seriously, those in wheelchairs have no choice but to use the van sized slots--the rest of us disabled can use a regular slot, even if it's a little tiny farther away!