How to Renew a Handicap Placard in Massachusetts

If you are a person with a disability, you may qualify for a disability license plate or placard in the state of Massachusetts. License plates for people with qualifying disabilities are available for Massachusetts residents who are the primary owner of a registered car or motorcycle, while disability placards are signs placed on the rearview mirror of any vehicle carrying the person with a disability. Both placards and license plates allow drivers to park in designated spots for people with disabilities. Placards are issued on a temporary or permanent basis to Massachusetts residents who meet certain medical conditions. You can renew a temporary handicap placard by submitting a new application, while permanent disability placards are automatically renewed upon expiration every five years.

How to Obtain a Disability Placard in Massachusetts

To obtain a disability placard, formerly known as a handicap placard, in Massachusetts, you must complete an Application for Disabled Parking. This application can be found on the Massachusetts RMV website. On your application, in addition to confirming your Massachusetts residency, a physician, chiropractor, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, osteopath, optometrist or podiatrist who is registered and licensed by the state of Massachusetts must certify to one or more of these conditions:

  • You cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
  • You cannot walk without assistance.
  • You are restricted by lung disease.
  • You require portable oxygen.
  • You have a Class III or IV cardiac condition.
  • You have Class III or IV functional arthritis.
  • You have Stage III or IV anatomic arthritis.
  • You have been declared legally blind.
  • You have temporarily lost or permanently lost the use of one or more limbs.

The health care provider must also indicate whether the RMV should issue a temporary or a permanent placard. If the placard is temporary, the health care provider must estimate the duration of the disability.

Be sure to keep a copy of the completed application for your records and send it by mail, along with any supporting documents, to:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
Attn: Medical Affairs
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889

Or you can apply in person at:

Registry of Motor Vehicles – Haymarket Center
136 Blackstone St., Third Floor
Boston, MA

There is no application fee for disability placards. The processing time varies depending on the volume of applications, but the RMV estimates at least 30 business days. The RMV will issue only one disability placard at a time, and that placard may used in any vehicle as long as the qualified person is riding in the vehicle. For questions, you can contact the medical affairs department of the RMV at 857-368-8020.

How to Renew a Temporary Massachusetts Placard

Temporary placards are issued to people with disabilities for a limited time period, between two and 24 months. If your temporary placard is expiring, and you need an extension, or if you want to change the temporary status to permanent, you must submit a new application for disabled parking. This means a qualified health care provider must again certify your medical condition and indicate whether you should be issued a temporary placard or if the placard should now be a permanent one.

How to Renew a Permanent Massachusetts Placard

If you were issued a permanent placard, you do not need to reapply for disabled parking privileges. Permanent placards expire every five years, and the RMV automatically mails you a new placard two weeks before your current placard expires.

Once you receive your new placard, you must mail the expired placard to:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
Attn: Medical Affairs
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-55889

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About the Author

Sally Brooks is a writer living in New York City with her chunky toddler and patient husband. She graduated magna cum laude from the University Cincinnati College of Law and her work has been featured in Jurist and the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review.