Passenger WAVs checklist

Girl in wheelchair with mum and WAV dealer

Passenger WAVs

Passenger WAVs have passenger seats in the back so there's room for all the family.

The most common wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) are those where the wheelchair user travels as a passenger.

These range from compact MPVs to minibuses that can take more than one wheelchair passenger.

In larger WAVs, seats for other passengers are available in a range of different configurations. Some converters also offer WAVs where the passenger seats can be moved around. 

A few passenger WAVs let you travel in the front next to the driver (up-front WAVs). In most WAVs you travel in the back. Many wheelchair users prefer up-front WAVs because they can talk to the driver more easily; but this type is more expensive. 

Passenger WAV checklist:

Travelling position

  • Make sure you can sit comfortably and upright (without having to duck your head), and can easily see out of the windows.
  • Is there enough space above your head so you don't hit the ceiling if the driver takes a bump too fast?
  • Will you be able to talk to the driver and any other passengers?
  • Will your carer be able to get to you if you need assistance of any kind during your journey?
  • Ideally, be positioned in front of the rear wheels or the ride can be very uncomfortable. Note: this may not be possible in some smaller WAVs.
  • If you have uncontrolled movements, make sure you are not too close to unpadded parts of the car.

Getting in and out

  • Which would suit you and the way you use your WAV best: a tailgate or a door (or doors)?
  • Will you, or whoever is helping you, have the agility, strength and reach to open and close a tailgate?
  • Make sure that you, or whoever is helping you, can safely and easily operate the ramp or lift to get you in and out.
  • Make sure that you and your wheelchair will fit along the entry and exit route without getting stuck.

Tip: some WAV users place stickers on the ramp or somewhere else on the vehicle to help guide them into the right position when they are getting in.


Girl in wheelchair in WAV

  • Think about how many people will be travelling with you.
  • Some of the rear passenger seats may need to be removed to make enough space in front to get the wheelchair in. Sometimes they're replaced with folding or smaller seats.
  • Think about where you'll stow, and how you'll secure, any luggage or equipment you'll be carrying. You can't use the space behind the wheelchair travelling position - it has to be clear for you to get in and out.
  • Some WAV users carry their extra luggage in roof boxes or trailers. Note that most WAVs can't be used to pull a trailer because of the way the rear of the vehicle has been modified.

Wheelchair tie downs

  • Think about who will be travelling with you. Tie downs need to be operated by an assistant.
  • Tie downs can be fiddly, so whoever is operating them needs to be able to perform fine movements with their hands.
  • Make sure the tie downs are fitted in the correct place to securely hold your wheelchair.
  • Check the weight limits of the tie downs.

Tip: if your WAV has a ramp, having front tie downs which pull out enough to attach to your wheelchair before you go up the ramp will make using the tie downs easier.

Warning - smaller seats

  • If the converter has fitted smaller seats in the back of the vehicle, these may not be suitable for an adult to sit on, especially on a long journey. 
  • They may also not be suitable for carrying a child seat. They may also have had any Isofix fittings removed. Ask the converter about this.

More information

Motability Scheme - getting a WAV

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Converters' Association (WAVCA)

BSI Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for WAVs 2012

Find your nearest mobility centre for advice and assessment

Disabled Motoring UK - supporting Blue Badge holders

For finance:


Disability Grants