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Council and Police Fines
Penalty Charge Notice

Parking Charge Notice Northern Ireland – Pay or Appeal?

Scott Nelson MoneyNerd Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd

Scott Nelson

Debt Expert

Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.

Learn more about Scott
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.

Learn more about Janine
· May 28th, 2024
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parking charge notice northern ireland

Have you received a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) in Northern Ireland and feel a bit lost about what to do next?

You’ve come to the right place. Each month, over 130,000 people come to our website for guidance on fines and parking tickets. 

This guide will give you clear steps on:

  • Understanding why you received a Parking Charge Notice.
  • Deciding if you need to pay the charge quickly.
  • Finding out how to make an appeal if you believe the charge is not right.
  • Looking at situations where you might not need to pay.
  • Learning about what could happen if you decide not to pay.

We know that getting a PCN can be stressful, and the process can seem hard to understand. But you’re not alone! Churchill Motor Insurance reports that in 2022, UK councils issued an average of 19,631 daily parking fines, a 12% increase from the previous year.1

Don’t worry; we’re here to help you understand your options.

Most 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, so it’s well worth a try. 

Is a Parking Charge Notice the Same as a Penalty Charge Notice?

Because both a Parking Charge Notice and Penalty Charge Notice share the same acronym of PCN, there is a common misconception that they are the same thing. But they are not.

Let’s outline what each of these is:

  • Parking charge notice – this is nothing more than an invoice for a private parking fee. Technically, it is not a fine. It is sent by a private parking operator. It is not legally enforceable unless the parking company gets a court order against you.
  • Penalty charge notice – this is an official notification that the local authority has levied a penalty charge against you for some reason, and this could include parking offences.

Why Were You Given a Parking Charge Notice in Northern Ireland?

There are many types of parking offences that might see you receiving a parking charge notice. It will be either attached to your vehicle or sent by post.

You may get this parking ticket in Northern Ireland for the following common violations:

  • You parked in a disabled bay but did not have a disabled sticker on display.
  • You parked in a permit-only holder spot but did not have a permit.
  • You parked in a way that took up more than one space (double parking).
  • You overstayed your paid parking by more than 10 minutes.
  • You did not pay and display when using a pay-and-display car park.

Successful Appeal Case Study


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.

Do You Have To Pay the Parking Charge Notice?

Parking charge notices are given by private parking firms or private business owners with parking on-site. For example, a supermarket, hospital or pub.

Although these companies like to make the parking charge notice look like an official document that should not be ignored, they are nothing more than an invoice

So do you have to pay them?

Well, in some cases, you can simply ignore the parking charge notice. Many private parking firms do not follow up on parking charge notices, as they know the chances of them being paid are fairly low.

Put simply, they are fishing when they send these notices out. They’re hoping that an uninformed and gullible person will fall for paying the parking charge.

In Northern Ireland, the driver (not the registered keeper) is liable for the parking charge notice. If you get a ticket but weren’t the driver, you can simply state that, as the owner, you’re not liable for any costs. Also, you’re under no obligation to state who the driver was.

That being said, if your parking charge is being levied by the local authority, you might want to pay it as these are generally followed up more aggressively.

pcn Northern Ireland
Source: MoneySavingExpert Forum.

Do You Need To Appeal a Northern Ireland PCN?

Yes, you can appeal a PCN issued by a private company against you. If you have received a PCN, contact the following organisations to challenge it:

  • The Consumer Council: Their email is [email protected]. Phone: 0800 121 6022
  • Parking On Private Land Appeals (POPLA)

Appeal Process Steps

If the PCN was sent by the local authority, you might like to go through the informal appeal process. Here’s a quick table that will help you better understand the steps you should take.

If you want to learn more about your PCN, be sure to check out our detailed guide.

Process: Steps you should take:
When you receive the ticket… You should gather as much evidence as you can to support your appeal claim and prove that the ticket was unfairly issued.
If you were given the ticket in person/attached to your car… You must make an informal appeal (sent to the local authority/council that issued the PCN) within 14 days. This should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If it was posted to you… You will be given 21 days to submit an informal appeal (from the day you received the letter). Your informal appeal should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If the informal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice to Owner and will have 28 days to respond to this with a formal appeal. You can conduct the formal appeal online or via paper form. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal can send you one of these forms.
If the formal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice of Rejection. From here, you are free to challenge the council’s verdict at an independent tribunal.
If the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal… You should pay the ticket within 28 days of the tribunal rejecting your appeal. If you don’t, the fine will be increased by 50%.
If you don’t have the money to pay the fine, you should contact Citizens Advice or another debt charity.

Note, though, that reasons such as the PCN was sent long after the offence took place are not good enough reasons to have the PCN overturned.

You can challenge the PCN online, but the result of the appeal with always be sent in writing. It will tell either the outcome of the appeal or ask you to provide more information.

If your appeal fails, you still have the option of taking the appeal to court, but there are financial risks inherent in doing this.

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

Get started

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What if You Don’t Pay?

If you just ignore the parking charge notice and don’t pay it, the following can happen.

  1. Nothing at all happens, and you don’t pay the parking charge.
  2. The parking firm sends you further notifications, trying to get you to pay.
  3. The parking company takes legal action against you to try and hassle you for the payment.

In the same way that these firms like to try and disguise what is basically an invoice as an official-looking document, they will also use scare tactics to try and shock people into paying a parking charge that is simply not enforceable. 

Only in very rare cases will the parking company risk the cost of proceeding with a court case to try and get payment from you. Meaning it is unlikely that non-payment would result in a County Court Judgement (CCJ) that could impact your credit score.

That said, if a company do take the matter to court and win, then failing to pay could result in a CCJ.

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

How to Pay

In some situations, you may want to pay the parking charge notice. Even though these are generally not enforceable, you should pay if you’ve broken the rules (e.g. if you’ve blocked a hospital entrance).

You have 28 days from the date the PCN was issued to pay it.

It’s worth noting, however, that even if you think the charge is unfair, you can dispute it. First, raise a complaint with the private land owner and then make an appeal with the parking company.

It’s best to do this in writing so you have a record.

The Last Word

If you’ve been issued a ticket by a local council, there are three ways to pay the parking charge notice in Northern Ireland.

  • You can pay the parking charge online. You will need to know the PCN number and have a valid payment card.
  • Pay the PCN by telephone. Have your PCN number and payment card ready, and then call 0300 200 7895
  • Send a cheque made payable to Department for Infrastructure to the following address.

Parking Enforcement Processing Unit
P.O.Box 134
BT52 9AF

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

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.


  1. SkyNews – Parking Tickets Statistics
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The authors
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd
Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
Appeals Expert
Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.