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Penalty Charge Notice

How to Pay a Penalty Charge Notice: Options, Timelines, and Consequences of Non-Payment

Scott Nelson Profile Picture
Scott Nelson Profile Picture

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.

Learn more about Scott
· Feb 19th, 2024
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Want to know more about Penalty Charge Notices? You’re not alone. We help more than 130,000 people per month get to the bottom of their PCN concerns.

Here is our quick guide on penalty charge notices. We’ll take a look at:

  • What a PCN is
  • If you have to pay
  • How to appeal
  • What happens if you don’t pay.

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 Penalty Charge Notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), as mentioned above, is a ticket issued by a local authority or a council for parking on public land. They have the power to enforce these tickets from the Traffic Management Act 2004.

While they can be issued by the police, they are not treated as criminal offences. As such, you can’t be sent to prison for not paying a PCN. 

There are a few different ways that a PCN can be issued:

  • Fixed to your car
  • Handed to you by a civil enforcement officer
  • When your car is clamped or removed
  • Post.

Keep in mind that you will only get a PCN via post if your incident was captured on CCTV or if you drove away from a civil enforcement officer as they were issuing the notice. Your PCN will also be posted to you if you prevented the civil enforcement officer from giving you the notice in any way.

Do I have to pay a PCN?

If you plan on challenging your PCN, don’t pay it. This is because paying the ticket looks like an admission of guilt – you acknowledge that you did something wrong and pay a ticket as restitution. If you didn’t do anything wrong, why would you pay?

But if you are unsure, contact the issuing authority. They will be able to tell you their appeals process in detail and answer any questions you may have. 

You can follow our guide on challenging all parking tickets, including PCNs, here.

If your informal, formal, and then tribunal appeals are rejected, you will have to pay. You could be taken to court if you don’t.

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.

How do I pay a PCN?

You have to pay your PCN within 28 days of receiving it. This will be 28 days from you receiving it in the post, having it handed to you, or having it stuck to your car. 

If you pay your PCN within 14 days of receiving it, you get 50% taken off. If sent by post, you get 21 days to pay for 50% off. 

If you don’t pay your PCN within 28 days, you will receive a ‘notice to owner.’ However, if your PCN was sent to you via post, this is your notice, and you won’t get a second letter.

A notice to owner will tell you to:

  • Pay the full PCN amount within 28 days, or
  • Dispute the PCN by formally challenging the council within 28 days.

How do I appeal a PCN?

The following is a rough guide on how to appeal a PCN. You can contact the issuing council at any point if you need more information on their specific appeals process.

Informal appeal

To appeal a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), you need to write to your council or whichever council issued the PCN. You can find their address and other information by looking them up.

In your letter, you need to clearly state why you object to the PCN. You are making an informal appeal at this stage. There is a time limit to an informal appeal – it must be made within 14 days of you being given the PCN, or within 21 days if it was sent to you via post.

You should include as much relevant information and evidence in your letter as possible. Such evidence can include:

  • Photos to show that there were no road markings that restricted parking
  • Photos to show that relevant signage was missing, damaged, or obscured 
  • Photos to show that any displayed parking information was confusing or difficult to understand
  • A valid pay and display ticket
  • A repair note if you were unable to move your vehicle because it had broken down
  • A witness statement from someone who was with you explaining what happened. This needs to be clearly labelled ‘witness statement.’ 

We recommend sending copies of your evidence rather than the originals – if copies get lost or damaged in the post, your evidence won’t be destroyed. We also recommend sending your letters via recorded delivery if possible so you have proof that it arrived.

The actual body of your letter also needs to include some key pieces of information:

  • The PCN number
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • Your address
  • The date, time, and location of where your ticket was issued.

If your PCN appeal is successful, you will be notified. The PCN will be cancelled, and you won’t have to pay.

Formal Appeal

If your informal appeal is rejected, you have the opportunity to restate your case by making a formal appeal. You may also need to follow from this stage if you have already received a ‘notice to owner.’

A notice to owner letter sounds intimidating, but don’t panic. You have 28 days to make a formal appeal, which is ample time to put together a robust appeal.

Keep in mind that this is free to appeal, and the notice to owner letter will go through how you make your formal appeal.

Generally, you only have to pay half the value of your fine if you pay quickly after your informal appeal is rejected. This might be worth considering if there was a strong or obvious reason for the council to reject your appeal. 

If you don’t pay your appeal quickly enough, your fine will go up by 50%. This usually happens around the 28-day mark. 

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

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Tribunal appeal

You will be sent a notice of rejection if your formal appeal is rejected. If you want to challenge this, you will need to go before a tribunal. This is free, and you don’t actually have to go to the tribunal – you just submit your evidence and reasons for appeal in writing. 

If your appeal is unsuccessful and the tribunal sides with the council, you will have to pay. You need to pay within 28 days, or your fine will increase by another 50%. 

If you continue to refuse to pay, the council can take you to court. This can have a long-lasting and negative impact on your credit score. You might also have to pay court fees on top of your fine. 

You can start your tribunal application with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for England and Wales here, here if you are challenging a ticket issued in London, or here if you are challenging a ticket in Scotland.

What happens if I don’t pay a PCN?

If you don’t pay your PCN, the issuing authority can get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you.

This means that bailiffs will start chasing you for the debt. They’ll charge you for their services, which will be added to your PCN debt, and you have to pay them.

If you refuse to pay after a CCJ and bailiffs visit you, they might be able to go to the High Court and get permission to take your possessions. These will then be sold at auction to cover the cost of your debt.

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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In partnership with Just Answer.

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The authors
Scott Nelson Profile Picture
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.