Transport and travel for Carers and people with disabilities
People with disabilities are entitled to supports on public transport and when driving. Free travel on public transport is available for people aged 66 or over, for recipients of Carer’s Allowance and for people on certain disability payments.
The Mobility Allowance is a means tested monthly payment payable by the Health Service Executive (HSE). It is paid to people who are aged 16 and over and under age 66, and who have a disability and are unable to walk or use public transport and who would benefit from a change in surroundings; (for example, by financing the occasional taxi journey). If an allowance is awarded, it will be continued beyond the age of 66 but you may not apply for the allowance if you are aged 66 or over.
There is no specific legislation in Ireland providing for Mobility Allowance. Instead, this Allowance was introduced in 1979 by the Department of Health and is payable under Section 61 of the Health Act, 1970.
On 26 February 2013, the Department of Health announced that the Mobility Allowance scheme was closed to new applicants. An alternative scheme is being devised to replace it. In the meantime, Mobility Allowance continues to be paid to those already receiving it.
Everyone aged 66 and over living permanently in the State is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme. Some people under 66 also qualify. If you qualify for free travel, you are issued with a pass that you must carry with you when using public transport. In some cases, a Free Travel Companion Pass is available which allows a person to travel with the holder (if they are unable to travel alone).
Where can I go?
Free travel is available on road, rail and DART services operated by Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, LUAS services, the Aran Islands ferry service and on certain private services which have opted into the scheme. You can also use your Free Travel Pass on any of the schemes under the Rural Transport Initiative. Free Travel Pass holders can complete return trips to Northern Ireland free of charge. If you are aged 66 or over, you can also travel free on journeys that start and end within Northern Ireland. In order to do this, you must have a Senior SmartPass. (You can get an application form for a Senior SmartPass from your local social welfare office)
How to apply for a Free Travel Pass
A Free Travel Pass is issued automatically if you are resident in the State and receiving Blind Person’s Pension, Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance or Carer’s Allowance. It is also issued automatically when you reach the age of 66 if you are getting a pension from the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) and are resident in the State.
If you do not get a Free Travel Pass automatically, but you feel you qualify, you can apply to the Free Travel section of the Department of Social Protection.
Using public transport with a disability
The NDA (National Disability Authority) has produced Recommended Accessibility Guidelines for Public Transport Operators in Ireland to help bus, rail and light rail operators in Ireland make their services more accessible to passengers with disabilities
Iarnród Éireann produces a guide for rail travellers, including DART users, entitled Guide for Rail Passengers with Disabilities. This is available free of charge in all stations. It offers advice and also provides information on facilities available at each station. You can download the guide from www.irishrail.ie or request it from:
Accessibility Officer, Iarnród Éireann
Tel: (01) 703 2634
Dublin Bus has recently set up a travel assistance scheme. The scheme helps people with disabilities to build confidence to use the service by themselves. Trained travel assistants accompany you on your journey for the first few times you use the service. The scheme is available to anyone over the age of 18 who would like to use public transport but needs assistance and information in order to use it independently. The service is free.
Transport services for people with disabilities
Various organisations provide transport services for people with disabilities.
Vantastic Dial-a-Ride provides a transport service for people with disabilities in Dublin and in a number of other areas around the country.
To find out what service is available outside Dublin, contact your local Centre for Independent Living.
Driving with a disability
Having a medical condition or disability does not mean you cannot or will not be allowed to drive. You may have to complete a medical report if you are 70 years of age or more or have certain disabilities or diseases (listed on the medical report form). There are various supports including special provisions for drivers with disabilities while taking driving tests, grants for adapting a vehicle, the Disabled Persons Parking Card and tax relief for necessary adaptations to vehicles.
Driving tests for people with a disability
You are asked on your driving test application form to outline whether you are driving an adapted vehicle. This will ensure that any necessary arrangements are in place for you on the day of your test. Driving tests for drivers with a disability are broadly the same as those for all other motorists. Your examiner should be specially trained to be aware of your needs. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you are allowed to have an interpreter accompany you for the first part of the test.
Motorised Transport Grant
The Motorised Transport Grant is a means-tested Health Service Executive (HSE) payment for people in Ireland with disabilities who need to buy a car in order to retain employment. This payment is also for people with disabilities who need to have a car or other vehicle adapted in order to enable them to drive and, as a result, earn a living.
On 26 February 2013, the Department of Health announced that the Motorised Transport Grant scheme was closed to new applicants. An alternative scheme is being devised to replace it. Applications received by the HSE before the announcement were processed.
Adaptations and driving
The Irish Wheelchair Association and the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland provide advice on suitable car adaptations to meet individual needs. They run driving schools for people with disabilities and can provide information and advice on all aspects of motoring.
Disabled Person’s Parking Card
The Disabled Person’s Parking Card (also known as the European Parking Card) is for people with severe disabilities, whether they are drivers or passengers. For a new applicant, a parking card cost €35. To find out the cost of renewing your parking card or replacing a lost or stolen card, contact the agency who issued you with your card.
How do I qualify for a Disabled Persons Parking Card?
It is for people whose disability affects their mobility, including people who are registered as blind. If you already have a Primary Medical Certificate from the HSE, you automatically qualify but must apply. Generally, the card is not issued to anyone under five years of age.
How do I apply for a Disabled Persons Parking Card?
The parking card scheme is administered by the Disabled Drivers Association and the Irish Wheelchair Association. The application form is available from either organisation (see below). Apply in writing for an application form, stating your disability and how it affects your mobility, and enclose a stamped addressed envelope. You have to get the form completed by the Gardaí and by your doctor unless you have a Primary Medical Certificate.
Disabled Drivers and Passengers Tax Relief
This scheme provides a range of tax reliefs in connection with the purchase and use of specially adapted vehicles by drivers and passengers with severe disabilities.
How do I qualify for Disabled Drivers and Passengers Tax Relief?
You must meet the specified medical criteria and have a Primary Medical Certificate to that effect. (A Primary Medical Certificate is a certificate signed by your doctor certifying your level of disability.) If you qualify, you may claim:
- Exemption or refund of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) on the purchase of a specially adapted car
- Exemption or refund of VAT on the cost of adaptation, up to a maximum of €9,525 for a disabled driver and €15,875 for a passenger or family member with a disability
- Repayment of excise duty on fuel used (petrol, for example) up to a maximum of 600 gallons (2,728 litres) per year. Since 1 January 2015, if you qualify for tax relief under the scheme you are also eligible for a fuel grant
- If you qualify under the scheme, your vehicle may be exempt from the payment of annual road tax on application to a Motor Tax Office
To qualify for this relief, the maximum engine size allowed for a driver with a disability is 2000cc and 4000cc for a passenger. A car which qualifies for tax relief cannot be sold for at least two years.
Note: People who benefit from the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Tax Relief are only eligible for the lower rate of Mobility Allowance.
You apply to the Revenue Commissioners for the relief (see below).
Fuel Grant for Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers
From January 2015, current and prospective members of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme will be eligible for a fuel grant in respect of fuel used during the year. This fuel grant will pay the sum a year in arrears, so that payments of the fuel grant will take place from 1 January 2016 and each subsequent year there after. The amount of grant available on the fuel grant will be the same as the relief available under the former excise relief.
Current members of the Scheme do not need to re-apply to receive the fuel grant. However, members of the Scheme should continue to retain receipts on any qualifying fuel purchased under the Scheme.
AA breakdown service
The AA offers a limited free breakdown service to members of the Disabled Drivers Association provided such service can be delivered by the AA’s own staff. This can include mending a puncture at the side of the road. The free service does not extend to Home Start or other specialist services. You have to pay for any service provided by AA contractors.
Toll road charges
Disabled drivers and disabled passengers with specially adapted vehicles in Ireland are exempt from toll charges on national roads throughout Ireland. A toll is a levy on each vehicle that passes through a designated toll road.
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Free Travel Section
Social Welfare Services,
College Road, Sligo
Lo-call: 1890 500 000
The Disabled Drivers’ Association of Ireland
Ballindine, Co. Mayo
Tel: (094) 936 4266/4054
Irish Wheelchair Association
National Mobility Centre
Ballinagappa Road, Clane, Co. Kildare
Tel: (045) 893 094
Office of the Revenue Commissioners
Disabled Drivers Section
Central Repayments Office,
Coolshannagh, Co. Monaghan
Lo-call: 1890 606 061
Tel: (047) 38010