How To Know if Van Accessible Parking Is Only for Vans

Anyone with a handicapped parking permit can access a van accessible parking, regardless of their vehicle type. No specific law prohibits a vehicle with a permit to access a handicapped space from parking on the van-accessible parking space. 

Non-disabled individuals have little to no limitations when getting in and out of a car. A recent survey found that 75% of non-disabled people would gladly improvise to find some way of getting into their vehicle if someone parked too close to them.  

Some suggested they could easily get into their car through a window or the opposite door. But folks in wheelchairs can’t employ the same solutions when they face similar inconveniences.  

That is why there are provisions for accessible parking spots in all public parking lots to cater to a special portion of the population. Millions of disabled Americans find these accessible parking spaces an invaluable lifeline that facilitates their mobility and hence full participation in society. 

Van-accessible parking spots are designated for disabled drivers or passengers in a van fitted with one or two side entry conversions. They come with additional room to allow safe entry and exit from the vehicle via a ramp or lift. 


Is Van Accessible Parking Only For Vans? 

Regulations for handing out handicap permits and the use of accessible spaces change from state to state. However, no specific law prevents a vehicle with a permit access to a handicapped space from parking on the van-accessible parking space.  

For instance, anyone with a handicapped parking permit can use Van-accessible parking spaces in California. 

The lack of a prohibitive law leaves room for misuse of these limited parking spots. If you came into a parking lot with your van and found a compact car occupying the bigger space,  while there is a free standard accessible space you can’t use, you would be very annoyed.  

In some cases, when the compact car came in, the van accessible space was the last available parking spot, and being disabled, they needed it. In other cases, they weren’t aware of the sign or how important the space is for disabled people with wheelchairs or vans. 

Perhaps opening up the space accessible for anyone with a permit is a good equality measure that avoids biasing disabled people with vans or wheelchairs. 

Wheelchair-accessible vans require more space to maneuver than a compact car; therefore, it is good to avoid using them unless you have no other option. 


Can You Park Your Car In Van Accessible Parking? 

Individuals without a disabled permit should stay away from all accessible parking spaces as it can attract fines, not to mention the inconvenience you cause the deserving parties. 


Can Handicap Cars Park In Van Accessible Parking? 

Yes, there is no law preventing them from using the spaces. 


How Do I Get Van Accessible Parking Permit? 

You need to know that a specific parking permit isn’t issued for van-accessible spaces. 

To get a handicap permit, you must first be certified by a doctor as a disabled individual by providing evidence of an impairment that significantly restricts you from undertaking key life activities. 

Now, if you have a van with a side wheelchair entry and qualify for a permit, the application process is straightforward.  

  1. Get a handicapped parking application from the DMV.  
  1. Complete the form, have your healthcare provider fill their part out, sign to certify your disability, and submit the application. 

While most people apply for permanent disabled parking, states provide a temporary disability permit for people who are recovering from surgery. These are valid until the date the doctor states on the application or a standard six-month period. 

Also, note that while some states provide placards for free, other states will charge varying fees. 


Laws Regulating Van Accessible Parking 

The absence of laws resulted in chaos, so the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to regulate and remove any ambiguities concerning accessible parking in America. 

The ADA law mandates the type of spaces, their dimensions, minimum spaces required in any given area, and the location of these parking spaces. 


ADA’s Van Accessible Parking Guidelines 

ADA Standards for Accessible Design requires businesses to provide accessible parking spaces when they restripe their parking lot. The following are further specifications for van-accessible spaces. 



Van-accessible spaces must be positioned along the closest building entrance with access facilities for wheelchairs. An accessible route is free of:

  • Curbs  
  • Stairs  
  • Steep slopes  
  • Slippery surfaces 

If there are multiple entrances to a building, these spaces should be distributed close to each entrance. 

In parking garages, van-accessible spots can be grouped together as long as greater accessibility is provided, prioritizing accessible entrance, convenience, and parking fees. 


Identifying Van Accessible Parking 

Standard accessible parking spots for vehicles without a wheelchair ramp are marked by the International Symbol of Access, with a blue and white wheelchair icon. There is an aisle with a minimum 60-inch-width which allows mobility in and out of the vehicle for people in wheelchairs. 

Van-accessible parking also has the same International Symbol of Access plus a 96-inch-wide white striped aisle that provides sufficient room for a ramp to deploy.  

The same goes for van access with two-side entries where the space is designed with access aisles on both sides of the parking space. 



Three features distinguish van-accessible spaces from the standard parking spaces.  

  • The access aisle must be at least 96-inches wide to fit a wheelchair lift or ramp. 
  • You must provide sufficient vertical clearance at the parking space. 
  • The vehicle route to accommodate the taller vans and an extra sign clearly labelling the space as ‘van accessible.’ 

It is okay for two van-accessible parking spaces to share an access aisle, but its boundaries must be marked clearly. 


Minimum Number Of Spaces 

All parking lots should have at least one van-accessible space. 

For every 25 parking lots, one should be reserved for disabled parking. With every six accessible parking spaces in the parking lot, a minimum of one is reserved for van-accessible parking


Accessible Parking Etiquette And Tips 

While anyone with a disabled parking permit can use a van-accessible parking lot, it is common courtesy to leave these for people who need them. So, if you are not driving a van with a side wheelchair entry,  you use the standard accessible spots. 

For non-disabled people, you should leave sufficient room from the hash marks whenever you park close to a van-accessible spot. 

People abusing disability permits is a rampant problem, both within and outside the disabled community. This means more people who sincerely need these facilities will be inconvenienced.  

Legal and ethical considerations demand that people without a permit should not access van accessible parking slots. It is, therefore, wrong to grant that privilege to non-disabled friends or family.  

A permit owner should guard their permit and always be present when using it. Failure to do so can result in fines and even revoking the permit. 

Lastly, avoid judging people who don’t look disabled. It is easy to get frustrated when you find someone who seems perfectly normal using the parking spot. Permits are awarded for various reasons in different states. Just because a person is not in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to use the parking spot. 


Types Of Accessible Parking  

There are three types of accessible parking in America to serve the largest group possible of disabled parking permit holders.  

They include: 

  1. Accessible parking for cars 
  1. Accessible parking for vans with one-sided entry 
  1. Accessible parking for vans with two side entries 

Accessible parking for cars is the most common type. It is designed to serve standard vehicles like sedans, SUVs, and even vans that are not fitted with deployable ramps or lifts. 



If you are a business owner, you need to know all the dos and don’ts of setting up van-accessible parking. For instance, you can’t place a bollard, signs, columns, or any elements in the access aisle to eliminate any chances of reducing the clear width of the accessible routes. 

If you are a motorist, you will save yourself avoidable fines by keeping off van-accessible parking spaces and all types of accessible parking spaces, for that matter. 

If you have a disabled permit, it is common courtesy to use standard parking spaces unless you have a van with entry access. After all, they are the fewest in any parking lot and should be left for those who genuinely need to use them.