What to know when getting a wheelchair accessible vehicle

Purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be a daunting task.  Perhaps this will be your first vehicle that must accommodate a wheelchair or you're ready to purchase a different vehicle and wonder what options would make life easier.

There are a lot of wheelchair accessible vehicle options available on the market today, and navigating through the various types and models could be very intimidating. There are some important things you need to put into perspective in order to determine the best options that suits your needs, lifestyle, and wallet.

When you are trying to choose between various wheelchair accessible vehicles, it is important to choose the best one with the right tools. Whether you wish to stick to your favorite car make and model or try out something different, each option has its own peculiarities and advantages. The following are a few tips to make your selection process easier and worthwhile. 

Think about your mobility vehicle needs.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles aren’t toys you shop for annually. They are a bit pricey so it’s important to think about the future during your decision making. You need to consider how well the vehicle functions. This is where you highlight your preferences against your options. Doing this will help trim down your options in the long run. You need to consider not only your present need but your future needs also.

You need to consider the following; how many people will travel in your WAV? Who will be the driver? The chair user or the caregiver? Do you need extra space due to your height and weight or an oversized wheelchair?  Do you prefer a slide out ramp or a fold out ramp?

Once you successfully answer these questions, you can go for what matches your idea.

Rear entry or side entry? Which one works for you better?

Wheelchair accessible vehicles are usually modified in two ways -  the rear entry or the side entry. Both have their accessibility advantages under different scenarios. It is much easier for wheelchair users to get into pilot or co-pilot seats in a side entry van. Rear entry vans, on the other hand, allow disabled drivers to park in regular spaces and are relatively cheaper. The rear entrance model doesn’t require any sort of maneuvering once you get inside the van.

Ready made WAV or modify what you have?

Purchasing a readymade wheelchair acessible vehicle that has already been modified by a manufacturer certainly has its advantages. It affords you the necessary convenience and you can see the finished product before buying. On the other hand, if your vehicle meets the age and mileage requirements, you can send it to the factory to be converted into a WAV. This could largely depend on your budget.  What options are truly options and what items are must haves?  Be a savvy shopper and compare prices of many manufacturers.

Involve a professional

Your mobility vehicle is a long-term asset.  Consider involving a professional.  A mobility consultant will be able to provide useful information in evaluating recommended vehicles.

The company or manufacturer’s website as well as the internet could also be a source of additional information.  Insist on verified and trusted sources.

Purchase from a reputable dealer. Ensure that your dealer is member of NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) and is also a part of their QAP (Quality Assurance Program). Your dealer also must be able to provide before and after sale services. 

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More information

Please note: VAT is removed in the checkout process

In the UK, disabled people do not have to pay VAT when buying certain disability aids and services (This can be claimed by friend or family member purchasing on their behalf). Not everything supplied to disabled people is necessarily zero-rated for VAT. Goods and services on which you do not have to pay VAT are usually known as 'zero-rated' or 'eligible for VAT relief.

Who is eligible for VAT relief?

You must be 'chronically sick or disabled' to qualify for VAT relief. The HMRC comment on this is as follows. A person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they either:

VAT Relief on our Disability Aids

All products on the Aids for Mobility website are flagged with an option to claim VAT relief during Checkout if it applies to that item. When you add a zero-rated product or service to your Basket, you will be asked to tick a checkbox to confirm that you, or the person for whom you are buying the item, are eligible for VAT Relief.

How VAT relief works

If you are claiming VAT Relief you will be asked to complete an extra few questions during Checkout, where we will ask you to provide brief details of your disability and confirmation that the product is for 'personal or domestic use'. We will keep a record of this declaration along with your order details. You can then buy the product(s) in your Basket at a price that excludes VAT. You will be asked to make this declaration each time you place an order that includes zero-rated products. It is a legal requirement that we record this information for every order, and we apologise for the inconvenience.

More information from HMRC

You can find out more about VAT Relief for disabled people on the HM Revenue and Customs website. If you cannot find the answer to your questions there or would prefer to speak to an adviser, you can call their Helpline on 0845 302 02 03.

The helpline is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. (Closed weekends and bank holidays).