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Charge Certificate – What You Need to Know 2022

charge certificate

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

If you have received a Penalty Charge Notice from a local authority or transport group, you may have also received or been threatened with a charge certificate. But what really is a charge certificate and what can you do about them?

We have everything you need to know about charge certificates here. But let’s start at the beginning…

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

What is a PCN fine?

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is a type of fine issued by either a local council or transport authority like Transport for London. They are served for different types of contraventions, such as parking contraventions on council land or driving in a bus lane when not permitted.

Does a PCN have to be stuck to the windscreen?

A Penalty Charge Notice doesn’t have to be stuck to your windscreen. Staff working for the council might attach the PCN to your vehicle for you to see when you return. But you can also be sent the PCN in the post. 

If your contravention is caught on camera, the local council or transport group can use your license plate to track down the vehicle owner’s registered address. They do this by asking the DVLA. So, just because there may be no parking officers around doesn’t mean you won’t be fined. 

Interestingly, the PCN must be sent to you within 28 days of the date of the supposed contravention. Otherwise, you might be able to use the delay as a reason not to pay. 

How much is a PCN fine?

PCN fines have recently been reduced so that in the majority of cases the most you can be fined is now £50 or £70, depending on location and the seriousness of the contravention. 

This is a 50% reduction on the previous PCN fine cap. Moreover, councils and transport groups must offer a further discount to any motorist who pays the fine within 14 calendar days. This can make the PCN relatively inexpensive.

Can you appeal a PCN?

You have the right to appeal a Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days of the contravention. This is the same amount of time you get to make the payment. Any appeal that is made after 28 days doesn’t have to be accepted by the council or transport group. 

Your appeal must consist of an explanation of why you’re appealing and applicable evidence when possible. The appeal will need to be made in writing, which usually means writing a letter or submitting the statement and evidence online. You’ll need your PCN reference number to make the appeal.

The council or transport authority will then make a decision. If they accept your appeal you won’t have to pay anything. If they reject your appeal, you might be given a small window of opportunity to still pay the “early bird” reduced fine. Or you might not. 

Rejected appeals can be escalated to an independent tribunal. The council or transport groups will provide details on how to do this within their appeal rejection letter (or email). 

What happens if you don’t pay a PCN?

If you don’t pay your Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days, the PCN issuer will then send you a charge certificate. You won’t be sent a charge certificate after 28 days if you have lodged an appeal.

What is a charge certificate?

A charge certificate is a formal notice that you have failed to pay the PCN by the deadline and simultaneously increases the PCN fine by 50% of its original value

For example, if you received a £50 fine and didn’t pay within 28 days, you’ll be sent a charge certificate which increases your fine to £75. You are given an additional 14 days to pay the increased fine once the charge certificate is served. 

How to appeal a charge certificate

There is no charge certificate appeal process. Your opportunity to appeal the PCN is missed once a charge certificate has been issued. 

There may be rare instances where a charge certificate has been served but you already submitted a PCN appeal within the 28 days. This would be an administration error, and if it occurs, it’s best to speak with the council or transport group about the situation. 

What happens after a charge certificate?

What happens after a charge certificate depends on how you handle and react to the situation. If you pay the increased fine within the additional 14 days, the matter will be over and nothing further will happen. 

However, if you ignore the charge certificate and don’t pay the increased fine by the 14-day deadline, the council or transport authority will take further action. They will apply for a court order which makes you legally responsible to pay the fine, and you may have to pay other fees as a result. 

Continuing to ignore your obligation to pay can result in the use of bailiffs. These bailiffs can come to your home to request full payment, which may now include expensive bailiff fees. If you still refuse they may seize your goods, which will be stored and then sold at an auction to clear the debt. 

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

Is it best to avoid a charge certificate?

It’s best to avoid being issued with a charge certificate because your fine will increase and there will be no alternative but to eventually pay. Letting a PCN escalate to a charge certificate doesn’t benefit you in any way. 

You shouldn’t ignore a PCN and should instead either pay early to take advantage of the reduced fine, or you should appeal the PCN when you have a strong case against it. 

Have another PCN question?

We have answered lots of other questions about council and private parking tickets already. Check out our parking ticket guide for more help and guidance. Or speak with Citizens Advice for personalised advice.

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