Transport and parking

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to get free or discounted travel fares. You may also be able to get a Blue Badge to help with parking costs.

Costs of travelling to hospital

Travelling for medical appointments can be expensive if you are having regular treatment and tests. You may be able to get help with your travel costs. Or you may be able to claim back some of the money you spend when travelling for medical reasons.

Claiming a refund

If you must travel to and from hospital for treatment, you may be able to claim a refund under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS). This can cover:

  • your bus or train fares
  • some petrol costs
  • taxi fares (in some situations).

If you need someone to travel with you to hospital for medical reasons, you may also be able to get a refund on their travel costs.

Who can claim?

You can claim a refund if you get one of the following benefits:

You can also claim a refund if:

  • you get, or are named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you have a low income – this means you can get help with travel costs as part of the NHS Low Income Scheme.

How can I claim?

You can usually get your refund at the hospital from the cashier’s office. You should check before you travel. In some cases, you may be able to get an advance payment to help you attend your appointment. You will need to bring the following things to the hospital:

  • Proof you are getting one of the qualifying benefits. For example, you could bring your benefit award letter, tax credit exemption card or certificate awarded under the NHS Low Income Scheme.
  • Proof of your travel costs. For example, tickets or receipts.
  • Proof of your appointment, such as your appointment letter or card.

Some voluntary organisations have drivers who can take people to hospital and other places (for example, to the shops). Check at your local library or search online for details of voluntary organisations in your area.

Hospital parking

Hospital car parking policies are different across the UK:

  • England

    From April 2020, hospital parking in England is free 24 hours a day if you have a Blue Badge. Parking is also free if you attend regular appointments to manage a long-term condition. Free parking is available at certain times of day for parents of children who need to stay in hospital overnight. Many hospitals in England give people with cancer free car parking or discounts. You should ask your hospital if they offer these discounts.

  • Scotland

    In Scotland, hospital parking is free at all hospitals except Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

  • Wales

    In Wales, hospital parking is free at all hospitals.

  • Northern Ireland

    In Northern Ireland, hospital parking is free at all hospitals if you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

 

Local transport services

There are services and schemes available if you need help when travelling. Some services are national and will be available to you, while others will be different based on where you live.

Services available across the UK

  • Free or reduced-cost bus travel

    In England, Wales and Scotland, people with a disability can get a free bus pass if they meet certain criteria. Contact your local council for more information.

    In Northern Ireland, you can travel for half-price if you get certain disability benefits. Contact Translink on 0289 066 6630 or use textphone 18001 9066 6630.

  • Community transport services

    If you have problems using public transport, community transport services may be available in your area. For example, there may be services giving door-to-door transport and trips to local shopping centres. Some areas have wheelchair-accessible transport that can pick you up from home (dial-a-ride services).

    To find out what is available in your area, use the Community Transport Association website at ctauk.org or speak to your local council.

  • Disability Action Transport Scheme (Northern Ireland) 

    This scheme provides low-cost transport for people with disabilities in Northern Ireland. Find out more at disabilityaction.org.

  • Local voluntary groups (good neighbour schemes)

    Some areas have local groups that offer practical help to people who need it. This often includes help with transport to hospital or to see your GP.

  • Shopmobility schemes

    These provide wheelchairs and scooters to help disabled people get around their local area or shopping centres. In England, Scotland or Wales, call 0844 414 1850 or visit nfsuk.org In Northern Ireland, visit shopmobilityni.org or call 0300 10 20 150.

  • Reduced taxi fare schemes

    These schemes are available in some areas. Speak to your local council for more information or visit GOV.UK or nidirect.gov.uk

Regional transport services

  • Patient Transport Services

    Some hospitals provide free transport to and from hospital for people with certain needs. This includes people who need special medical support during their journey, people who have difficulty walking, and parents or guardians of children who are being transported. 

    A medical professional will need to refer you to any Patient Transport Service at your hospital.

  • St John Wales

    St John Wales can offer transport for people in Wales who have problems using public transport or their own vehicle. Visit their website or call 0292 044 9600.

  • The Highlands and Islands Travel Scheme

    Under this scheme, people from the Highlands and Islands in Scotland can claim a refund on their travel costs to hospital. To qualify, you must live or work in the former Highlands and Islands Development Board area. If you need to travel at least 30 miles from your home (or more than 5 miles by water) to hospital, you can get financial help with the travel costs.


    You must pay £10 of any fare you are claiming, unless you are getting certain income-related benefits. If you need someone to travel with you, you can also get help with their travel costs. A healthcare professional must confirm this is medically necessary for you. You should ask your GP or the cash office at the hospital for a claim form.

  • Isles of Scilly Travel Cost Scheme

    The NHS funds transport for all Isles of Scilly residents to get to and from the mainland for hospital treatment. You must pay a £5 booking fee.

  • London Taxicard scheme

    This scheme provides discounts on door-to-door transport for people who find it hard to use public transport because of serious mobility problems. Taxicard holders can make journeys in licensed London taxis. The discount applies to each trip and there is a maximum fare guarantee. For more information and an application form, visit London Councils or call 020 7934 9791.

There are schemes offering discounts on taxi fares in some areas outside London. You can ask your local council or GP what help is available in your area.

The Blue Badge Scheme

If you have problems with mobility, you may be able to get a Blue Badge. This allows you to park in parking spaces closer to where you need to go. You can usually park for free:

  • on streets with parking meters or pay-and-display machines for as long as you need
  • in disabled parking bays on streets for as long as you need, unless a sign says there is a time limit
  • on single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours, unless there is a no loading sign.

You may have to pay if you are using some private car parks, such as in hospitals or supermarkets. You need to check the signs in the car park.

You must continue to follow the usual parking rules. For example, you can still get a fine if you park somewhere that could put people in danger.

You automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if you have specific medical conditions or get certain benefits. These include the following:

  • Getting the higher mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
  • Scoring 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ area of your Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment.
  • Scoring 10 points in the ‘planning and following a journey’ area of your Personal Independence Payment assessment, due to psychological distress. This only applies if you live in England.

For the full list of criteria to automatically qualify for a blue badge, visit GOV.UK or speak to your local council.

If you do not automatically qualify, you can still get a Blue Badge in some situations. These include if you have long-term problems with walking or severe problems using both arms.

How to apply for a badge

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales

    Visit the GOV.UK website or contact your local council.

  • If you live in Northern Ireland

    Apply online at or call 0300 200 7818.

Your healthcare professional or a Macmillan welfare rights adviser may be able to help you fill out the application forms. A Blue Badge costs up to £10 in England, £20 in Scotland and £10 in Northern Ireland. It is free in Wales.

Blue Badges usually last up to 3 years. You must reapply before your current Blue Badge expires.

Special badge schemes

There are special badge schemes for people with restricted mobility who live, study or work in areas where the Blue Badge Scheme does not apply. For example, in London there is a:

  • green badge for Camden
  • red badge for the City of London
  • purple badge for Kensington and Chelsea
  • white badge for Westminster.

Visit disabledmotoring.org for more information.

Tunnels bridges and toll roads

Blue Badge holders and other disabled people pay a reduced rate, or no fee, at some river crossings, bridges and tunnels. In most cases, you must apply in advance to get a discount. Toll discounts can change, so check before you travel.

Contact your local council for advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, call the Blue Badge Unit on 0300 200 7818.

London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone Charge

There is a charge of £15 a day to drive within central London at certain times. If you have a Blue Badge, you do not have to pay the charge. However, you must make a one-off payment of £10 to register for this discount.

If you need to pay the Congestion Charge to get to a medical appointment, you may be able to claim this money back from the hospital. A healthcare professional, such as your cancer doctor or nurse, would need to confirm you are too ill to travel on public transport. Remember to keep your receipt for the Congestion Charge so you can claim your refund. For more information, visit tfl.gov.uk or call 0343 222 2222. You can also use textphone 0207 649 9123.

To help improve air quality, an Ultra Low Emission Zone runs all the time in central London. If your vehicle does not meet certain emissions standards, you must pay a daily charge to drive within this zone. This is £12.50 a day for most types of vehicles. It is payable on top of the Congestion Charge.

If you have a Blue Badge, you still need to pay the Ultra Low Emission Zone Charge. There is an exception if your vehicle is registered with a disabled or disabled passenger vehicle tax class. This exception applies until 26 October 2025.

Other driving costs

You may qualify for free road tax or a scheme that helps you buy or rent a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.

Road vehicle tax exemption

You may be able to get free road tax if you are disabled. You may qualify if you get any of the following:

If you get the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment at the standard rate, you may qualify for a 50% discount on your road tax.

For more information, call the DVLA vehicle tax service on 0300 123 432, or visit GOV.UK. You can also speak to your local Post Office.

Motability Scheme

Under this scheme, you can get help to hire a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair instead of getting the cash benefit of:

Contact the Motability Scheme to apply.

Seat belts

If you cannot wear a seat belt for medical reasons, you can get a medical exemption certificate from your doctor. There are also aids and adaptations that make it easier for people with disabilities to wear a seat belt. For more information, speak to your doctor or contact the DLF.

Bus, coach and train costs

There are special rates for bus, coach and train travel for eligible older people and people with disabilities.

A bus pass gives you a reduced price, or often free travel, on local buses. You can apply for a bus pass if you:

  • have reached State Pension age in England
  • are aged over 60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • are disabled and meet the eligibility requirements.

If you live in London, you can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport if you are aged 60 or over. This only applies to travel within London.

There may also be local support towards taxi costs.

How to apply for travel discounts

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales

    For details about how to apply for a bus pass or other travel, contact your local council. You can also ask at your local bus or coach station.

    Disabled Person’s Railcard gives people with mobility needs one third off their rail fares. If you are travelling with another adult, they will also get the same discount.

    A Senior Railcard allows people aged 60 or over to save one-third on rail fares. You can buy a Senior Railcard online, at a station ticket office, or by calling 0345 3000 250.

  • If you live in Northern Ireland

    Call Translink on 028 9066 6630, or use textphone 18001 028 9066 6630. You can also ask at your local bus or coach station.

    People with mobility needs can get 50% off their bus and rail travel. To get this discount, you must apply for a travel card called a Half Fare SmartPass. A 60 Plus SmartPass allows people aged between 60 and 64 to travel free throughout Northern Ireland. A Senior SmartPass allows people aged 65 or over to travel free within Northern Ireland and on cross border routes. Visit translink.co.uk.

    To get an application form for a SmartPass, visit your local Translink bus or rail station, call 028 9066 6630, textphone 18001 028 9066 6630 or email smartpass@translink.co.uk.

For more information about reduced rail fares, you can check at your local train station or visit the National Rail. This website covers rail travel all over the UK.

About our information


  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by Macmillan professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Sean Conroy, Macmillan Welfare Rights and Energy Advice Team Service Manager.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.