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Congestion PCN – Should I Pay or Appeal? 

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By
Scott
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Scott Nelson

Managing Director

MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.

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Janine
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Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.

Learn more about Janine
· Feb 14th, 2024
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congestion pcn

Did you get a Congestion Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and feel unsure about what to do? You’ve come to the right place. Each month, over 130,000 people visit our website looking for guidance on fines and parking tickets.

In this article, we’ll help you understand:

  • What a Congestion PCN is and why you might have received one.
  • If you really need to pay it right away.
  • How you can appeal against the charge if you don’t think it’s fair.
  • Times when you might not have to pay.
  • What might happen if you decide not to pay.

Getting a PCN can be a bit scary and confusing; we’ve been there too. With our expertise, we’ll help you make an informed decision.

64% of Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

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

Chat below to get started with JustAnswer

*Around 35,000 people dispute their tickets each year with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, and a striking 64% of those appeals are successful. In partnership with Just Answer.

What is a Congestion Charge PCN?

First and foremost, PCN stands for penalty charge notice.

It’s a legal document that tells you that your car was seen allegedly breaking a parking or traffic law.

If you’ve received a Congestion Charge PCN, it’s very likely that you’ve driven or parked in the congestion zone or red routes in London without paying the fee you’re supposed to.

If your vehicle is involved in a contravention on the red route, you will be issued a £160 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

This must be paid within 28 days.

This will be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 or 21 days (specific details will be provided on the PCN itself).

What are Congestion Charges?

Congestion charges are a specific amounts of money that you have to pay each day to drive into a city centre

The fees are charged in order to reduce traffic.

No matter how many times you enter and exit the Congestion Charge zone within the same day, you will only be required to pay the £15 daily charge once.

Check out how one motorist got caught out by a Congestion Zone charge on a Sunday.

Source: Moneysavingexpert

You have the option of paying in advance, on the day of travel, or no later than midnight three days after travel.

If you drive within the Congestion Charge zone between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00 on weekdays, and 12:00 and 18:00 on weekends and holidays, you will be required to pay a daily charge.

Note that there are no fees from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.

Common mistakes that lead to congestion charge PCNs

It’s all too easy to miss a sign and enter a congestion charge zone by mistake.

For example, maybe you:

  • Were unfamiliar with an area and didn’t see the signs
  • You thought that you didn’t have to pay a fee at weekends when you did
  • You forgot to pay the fee within the deadline

Successful Appeal Case Study

Situation

Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.

Does everyone have to pay the Congestion Charge?

No, but this is only under certain circumstances.

People who hold Blue Badges, vehicles with more than 9 seats, or own a battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle are eligible to apply for discounts and exemptions.

There’s lots more information on the TFL discounts and exemptions page, so be sure to read carefully to find out if you’re able to apply!

How is the congestion charge enforced?

Authorities enforce congestion charges using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

Congestion zones are ringed fenced with ANPR cameras that record when cars enter and leave the area.

The data is then cross-checked to retrieve a registered keeper’s address to verify payment has been made or not.

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

Can I Appeal Congestion Charge PCN?

Yes. If you do not believe you’ve been issued a congestion PCN fairly, you can appeal against it.

A representation must be made in order to appeal a Congestion Charge PCN.

This is a necessary step in the legal process. You can either make your representation online or in writing.

PCNs are normally sent to the registered keeper of a vehicle as per the records of the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

If the registered keeper can produce a valid hire agreement, the designated hirer or lessee may also receive one.

Even if they were not the driver, the person or organisation named on a PCN must make the representation.

Note:

  • The registered keeper has the authority to make a representation on behalf of a third party.
  • Transport for London will not consider a claim from a third party unless the registered keeper gives them written permission.
  • If the registered keeper has given you a PCN and you want to dispute it, they must either write in on your behalf or give you written permission to submit a challenge on their behalf.
  • When making a representation, if the registered keeper is a company and you are making the representation on behalf of the company, please indicate your position and level of authority within the company.
  • Transport for London will always let the registered keeper know how an investigation turns out.

How do I appeal a congestion charge PCN?

If you decide to challenge a congestion charge PCN, you must make a ‘representation’ in writing to the issuer.

You also have to provide the following information:

  • Why you are appealing the fine
  • Supporting evidence

You then have to follow the appeals process to the letter as instructed on the Penalty Charge Notice.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

Get started

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Pros and cons of paying vs appealing

There are advantages to paying a congestion charge which I’ve listed here:

  • You pay half the amount when you settle the fine early
  • You don’t have to spend valuable time gathering evidence to support an appeal
  • The case is closed as soon as you pay the fine so you can move on with your life

Appealing a congestion charge PCN takes time and there’s no guarantee a challenge will be successful.

Other disadvantages of challenging the PCN include:

  • You could lose out on paying the discounted fine
  • The fine could increase by 50% making it harder to settle

How can I pay my Congestion PCN?

There are multiple ways to pay your Congestion PCN, and they are as follows: 

What you’ll need:

  • PCN number
  • Number plate (Vehicle Registration Mark)
  • Credit or debit card details

Payment options:

  1. You can quickly and easily pay online for your congestion PCN.
  1. Pay by mobile app: Download the TfL Pay to drive in London app and press ‘Pay Penalty’
  1. Pay by post

Red routes
PO Box 335
Darlington DL1 9PU

Remember, if you pay this within 14 or 21 days (it will say on the PCN), the amount will be reduced to £80.

You will also get a 50% discount if you appeal within 14 or 21 days and the appeal is rejected.

What happens if I ignore my Congestion PCN?

If the penalty charge isn’t paid within 14 days of receiving a Charge Certificate, it will be passed onto the Traffic Enforcement Centre to register it as an unpaid debt, which costs additional fees for each PCN.

A Recovery Order will subsequently be issued to you. 

You have 21 days from the date of service in which to pay this.

The Next Steps

If you don’t pay in this time, it will be passed onto an Enforcement Agent, otherwise known as Bailiffs.

When a case is assigned to an enforcement agent, they will begin enforcement activity, which is referred to as the compliance stage.

An Enforcement Notice will be sent to you at this time, outlining the warrant holder’s name and address as well as the amount of money you owe.

If you don’t pay attention to this first notice, an enforcement agent will show up at your house to collect the debt and any related fees.

Will an unpaid congestion charge PCN affect my credit score?

Yes, if you fail to pay a congestion charge, it will negatively impact your credit score.

Once a court issues an Order for Recovery, you will get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) which will harm your credit rating if not settled within 30 days.


As I see it, you should never ignore a Congestion Charge PCN, as it won’t just go away.

Your best bet is to pay it early to receive the 50% discount.

Remember that you can still pay your congestion charge before it turns into a PCN within 3 days of entering and exiting the designated areas.

How do I know if I’ve entered the Congestion Charge zone?

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve driven in the Congestion Charge zone – and therefore owe the fee – you can look it up on the Transport for London website.

If you have driven your vehicle into the Congestion Charging zone, there is no way to determine whether or not the number plate on your vehicle was recorded.

The only thing you can do is wait to see if you receive a letter or a fine in the post.

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.

Try it below

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The authors
Scott Nelson Profile Picture
Author
MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.
Janine Marsh Profile Picture
Appeals Expert
Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.