Mobility cards are available in France for people who need assistance with their active personal mobility.
The card is called Carte Mobilité Inclusion – CMI.
It provides access to disabled facilities like spaces in car parks, reserved seats in waiting rooms or on public transport as well as reduced fares on some buses, trains and planes (RATP, SNCF Air France). In some situations, it also provides tax advantages.
Generally speaking, the cards are available to individuals over 60 who are experiencing age-related difficulties, or with reduced levels of autonomy, or who are disabled.
Types of card
There are three main types of card which provide benefits related to the degree of incapacity.
i. CMI Stationnement
These cards allow access to all parking spaces in public car parks, including those specifically designated for handicapped use only.
They are intended for individuals who have great difficulty moving around on foot, who need to be accompanied by a helper or who have a more severe disability and use a wheelchair.
The card can be issued to the individual assessed as being in need or to their driver. It is possible to have 2 cards, e.g. one for both parents of a disabled child, if the parents are separated. The second card is chargeable.
ii. CMI Priorité
This permits access to seats designated to the elderly or handicapped on public transport or in waiting rooms and allows the card bearer to move to the front of queues, including shop checkouts.
These cards are intended for individuals who have been assessed as needing some assistance with certain aspects of their daily lives. For example, they may need help at work or with shopping. They might also be experiencing difficulties if required to stand for long periods of time.
The card and its benefits apply to the individual and their helper/carer.
iii. CMI Invalidité
This offers all of the benefits of a CMI priorité, as well as allowing the holder to benefit from reduced fares on public transport (and possibly reduced tax liabilities).
These are for people who need assistance with all aspects of their daily lives due to severe disabilities. The card is also valid for the individual and their helper/carer.
The three new card types are gradually replacing an older system, which we do not consider here. The old-style cards can still be used until they expire, by the end of December 2026 at the latest.
Cards are issued free of charge, though duplicates or replacements following loss or theft are chargeable (the cost is currently €9 per card).
The cards can have a validity of between 1-20 years, though some are issued on a permanent basis.
An individual may apply for a stand-alone CMI stationnement or in conjunction with a CMI priorité or a CMI invalidité, but applying for a CMI priorité in conjunction with a CMI invalidité is not possible.
Where and how to apply
The cards are allocated according to the level of loss of autonomy of the individual.
How you apply for a card(s) will depend on your current situation and whether you have already been assessed as being eligible for an APA - Allocation Personnalisée d’Autonomie.
To qualify for APA you will typically be over 60 and experience difficulties doing things for yourself because of your age. Assessments are carried out by a health professional from the department.
i. No APA
If you are over 60 and not a recipient of an APA, then you will need to send your request for CMI to your local Maison Départmentale des Personnes Handicapées -MDPH . You will need to accompany your request with a medical certificate from your doctor (there is a proforma for this online) as well as proof of identity and domicile.
Your file will be assessed by the Commission des Droits et de l’Autonomie des Personnes Handicapées - CDAPH, and they will notify you of their decision.
ii. APA Beneficiary
If you are applying for a CMI as part of an application for an APA or are already in receipt of an APA, then it is the APA assessment that can determine which cards you are entitled to.
If your APA assessment is categorised as GIR 1-2 (the highest level of disability) then you are automatically and permanently entitled to CMI invalidité and CMI stationnement.
With a lower GIR of 3-6, the application for a CMI will be assessed independently and depending on the type of card you are applying for, this may be done through your MDPH/CDAPH as above.
As is commonplace in France, different departments may do things differently. So check online for exact details for how to apply where you live.
If there is a favourable outcome to request for CMI then you will be asked to send a photo to the ‘Imprimerie Nationale’ who will prepare your card(s). Much of this process can be carried out online, though paper copies are also accepted and you should have your card in 10 days or so.
If your application for a CMI is turned down, your first port of call is an appeal to your Conseil Général. Things can thereafter be escalated to various tribunals if that initial appeal fails.