Have you received a parking fine and wonder what your rights are? You’re not alone. Each month, over 130,000 people visit our website for guidance on fines and parking tickets.
In this straightforward guide, we’ll help you understand:
- The difference between Penalty Charge Notices and Parking Charge Notices.
- If you really have to pay the fine.
- How you can appeal a parking ticket.
- The time limit to issue a Penalty Charge Notice.
- Ways to avoid a parking fine in the future.
We understand that getting a parking fine can be very annoying. It may seem scary and confusing but don’t worry, we’ll provide clear steps and advice to help you through the process.
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 with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.
Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.
The two types of parking tickets
Motorists in the UK might receive one of two types of parking tickets, depending on whether the alleged parking contravention took place on public or private land.
The two types of parking fines are either Penalty Charge Notices or Parking Charge Notices.
Even though they sound similar and have the same abbreviation (PCN) they should be dealt with differently. You need to know which one you have to know how to appeal your specific parking ticket.
Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) explained
A Penalty Charge Notice is a type of financial penalty to a motorist from a local council or Transport for London. They are predominantly issued for parking contraventions and traffic offences, such as driving in a bus lane. But they can be issued for missing road toll deadlines as well.
The council parking fine might be served to you by a Council Enforcement Officer (CEO) who patrols council car parks, high streets and residential areas.
If so, they will leave the parking ticket on your vehicle. Alternatively, you can be sent a PCN in the post when your contravention is caught on CCTV. The local authority will get your address by using your vehicle registration number and contacting the DVLA.
If you received a Penalty Charge Notice and want to make a Penalty Charge Notice appeal, the information below won’t be relevant to you. Instead, head back to our council and police fines page and select Penalty Charge Notices.
Some road users wonder whether making an appeal is worth it. If you believe you’ve wrongly been issued a PCN, or you have a good excuse, I’d recommend appealing and avoiding costly fines!
Parking Charge Notice (PCN) explained
A Parking Charge Notice is a private parking ticket issued by a private car park operator or other private company.
The parking company that issues the fine could operate a standalone car park, or the car park could be attached to a hospital, supermarket or retail park.
If you park on private land and don’t pay the required parking fee, the company that owns the land can issue you with a parking ticket called a Parking Charge Notice. This could be left on your vehicle or sent in the post when the contravention is caught on camera.
You might not have to pay
In many circumstances, parking tickets are not enforceable.
The last time I had a parking ticket, I paid £5 for a trial with an Online Solicitor called JustAnswer.
They advised me on the appeals process and helped me to create a successful airtight defence. It’s a bit of a no-brainer!
Try it below
Can you appeal a parking ticket?
Yes, you can appeal a parking ticket from a council or from a private parking company. In either situation, you will need to submit your appeal by a deadline or you’ll lose the opportunity to appeal.
The rest of this guide will be dedicated to appealing unfair parking fines from a private company.
Can I challenge a PCN after payment?
No, you can’t challenge a Parking Charge Notice after you make a payment. Once a payment is made, it’s understood that you accept guilt and the case is closed. If you plan on appealing, never pay the parking ticket first.
Some motorists may be tempted to pay the discounted fine within the first 14 days before appealing, in the hope that they will get the money back if they win the appeal.
This isn’t the case, but some private parking operators will hold the discounted rate if you make an initial appeal within the timeframe that the discounted fine is still offered.
Thus, it’s sometimes possible to make an initial appeal and still pay the reduced fine if it gets rejected. But you need to check that your PCN issuer offers this, and you’ll need to be quick to make your appeal to qualify.
When you shouldn’t make an appeal! (Read this!)
You shouldn’t make an appeal to any car park operator that isn’t a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA). If the company isn’t a member of the ATA, they will leave the Parking Charge Notice on your vehicle because they cannot ask the DVLA for your address later.
But don’t respond to the PCN!
Only ATA members can request a vehicle owner’s address to send a parking fine, and by appealing their ticket left on your vehicle, you will be giving them your address. So, if they’re not an ATA member, you should do nothing to make sure the company doesn’t know where you live.
Unfortunately, most car park operators are ATA members.
How do you formally challenge private parking tickets?
Unlike the council parking fine appeals process, there isn’t typically an informal and formal appeal for private parking tickets. Appealing a parking ticket from a private company is usually just one type of appeal.
This is a bit different from council parking fines because recipients of these fines can submit an informal appeal within so many days before having to make a formal appeal called a representation.
The private parking fine appeal is comparable to a council parking fine representation, so you could say it’s already a formal appeals process.
How do I appeal a parking ticket UK?
The process for appealing private tickets from private companies can differ between issuers.
But on the whole, appealing a parking ticket requires you to either:
- Write a letter stating why you think the ticket should be canceled and supporting your letter with evidence
- Uploading a letter or statement to an online portal on the PCN issuer’s website along with supporting evidence
Either of these usually has to be done within 28 days of receiving the Parking Charge Notice.
How do I write a letter to appeal a parking ticket?
Your parking ticket appeal letter should start by stating relevant personal information and your vehicle registration number and your PCN number.
It should then clearly explain the reason or reasons why you believe the parking ticket should not have been issued against you. Your letter should also refer to supporting evidence when possible.
If you want to save time and write an effective appeal, you can download MoneyNerd’s free parking ticket appeal letter template. This free resource gives you a fantastic starting point to launch your appeal.
Can you appeal a parking ticket if the machine is broken?
You may or may not be able to use a broken ticket machine as an excuse to get out of your private parking ticket. There are some private parking companies that don’t accept this as an excuse.
Some car park operators will put up signs or add to their terms and conditions that if you cannot pay for parking due to an out-of-order machine, you should leave the car park and not use the facility.
If you don’t pay because the machine is broken and this is included in the company’s terms and conditions, it may not work as a good parking ticket appeal excuse.
If you do plan on appealing for this reason, it’s important to get evidence of the broken ticket machine. This can easily be done by taking a photo or a video of you trying to pay.
Is there a time limit to issue a PCN?
Parking Charge Notices must be issued within 14 days. There is a small loophole that could extend this timeline if the private car park operator told you about the pending parking ticket when on the premises.
If you weren’t expecting a Parking Charge Notice and it then arrived more than 14 days after the day of the alleged parking contravention, you could use this as a reason to lodge an appeal.
How can I avoid a Parking Fine?
Nobody wants a parking ticket, and sometimes you may miss a sign or lose track of time, which then leads to a parking fine. However, there are ways you can avoid this in the future:
- Use parking apps
- Research parking restrictions in areas you frequent
- Refresh your knowledge on signage
- Set alarms when parking in an area with a time limit
What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?
There are several excuses that are good for appealing a parking ticket. The best parking ticket appeal excuses are truthful and backed up by solid supporting evidence, such as photos, videos or witness statements.
Here are some examples of excuses people have successfully used in the past:
- It took more than 14 days for your PCN to arrive
- The parking ticket machine was broken (could be contested as explained above)
- Parking signs were removed, damaged or unclear
- You broke down
- You were involved in an emergency situation that prevented you from getting back to your vehicle in time
- You overstayed by fewer than 10 minutes (there is a grace period the company must honor!)
How long does a parking company have to respond to an appeal?
Private parking companies have up to 56 days to respond to your appeal. If they fail to respond within these eight weeks, you automatically win the appeal and won’t have to pay.
If you write a letter to make your appeal, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of the letter and get proof of posting. This way, you can prove that the company received your appeal if they miss the deadline to respond.
How successful are ParkingEye appeals?
Parking Eye is one of the largest car park operators in the UK and frequently sends out PCNs.
There isn’t any public data on how often they accept PCN appeals, but there have been times when the company had to admit to wrongfully issuing PCNs due to failures with their technology!
Private parking ticket appeal rejected – what now?
If your private parking ticket appeal is rejected you can accept the company’s decision and pay the fine, or you might decide you want to keep fighting the parking ticket.
You can escalate a private parking fine appeal to an independent group if you think the company has made the incorrect decision. There is sometimes a time limit on your rights to escalate the appeal, typically 28 days from the date of the initial rejection.
The exact method of escalating the PCN appeal must be told to you at the same time the car park operator rejects your first appeal. But the main details are outlined below.
Appeal to POPLA or the IAS
If the car park operator that issued your PCN is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA), you need to direct your appeal to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA).
But if the PCN issuing company is a member of the International Parking Community (IPC) instead, you should escalate the appeal to the Independent Appeals Service (IAS) unless told otherwise.
The Independent Appeals Service keeps the door open longer for you to appeal. In fact, you can appeal to this Accredited Trade Association for up to one year after. But you will need to pay a small fee if your appeal is more than 21 days after the initial rejection.
How successful are appeals to POPLA?
In just one year, POPLA overturned just over 40% of rejected PCN appeals by private parking companies. So it’s worth considering a free POPLA appeal if you’re sure that the company has wrongfully rejected your appeal!
Are parking tickets legally enforceable?
Private parking tickets can become enforceable if the company takes legal action against you. Some companies may take this step, whereas others may not. Even if they have no intention of litigation, they could still make court threats.
You just never know when they’re real or not!
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
Can I ignore a parking ticket from a private company?
If you ignore a private parking company you run the risk of being taken to court and having to pay more because you could have to pay court costs. You could also be subject to a court order that affects your credit file.
Is a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) a criminal Offence?
No, Parking Charge Notices won’t result in a criminal record.