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Parking Tickets – Should You Pay? (2024 Guide)

Whether or not to pay or appeal your parking ticket in the UK depends largely on the specific circumstances surrounding the issuance of the ticket, as well as the potential repercussions of non-payment. Dive in to discover more!
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Have you received a parking fine and are wondering what to do next? Perhaps you’re unsure if you should pay or appeal? This guide is here to help. 

Each month, over 130,000 readers visit our site looking for guidance on fines and parking tickets, so you’re not alone.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  •  Understanding private car parks and their rules.
  •  Exploring if you have to pay the parking fine.
  •  Distinguishing between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice.
  •  Ways to appeal a parking fine.
  •  Learning about the impact of parking fines on your credit.

Getting a parking fine can be a real bother. The rules might seem confusing, and you may not know what to do next. We’re here to guide you through the process.

Most Ticket Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your parking 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 fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

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*According to Martin Lewis, 56% of people who try to appeal their ticket are successful and get the charge overturned, so it’s well worth a try.

What is a private car park?

A private car park is a car park owned by a private landowner rather than the local council. 

These car parks are usually connected to retail parks, hospitals, universities, fast food chains and supermarkets. But private car parks can also be standalone and not connected to any other business.

Most private car park owners outsource the day-to-day management of the car park to a private car park operator. These companies provide a wealth of services, including parking ticket enforcement. 

Can I be fined for parking in a private car park?

Yes, you can be given a parking fine for parking on private land and not obeying the terms and conditions of the car park, such as paying for your parking or parking correctly when using the car park. 

When you enter a private car park, there must be adequate signage stating the terms and conditions of using the car park, or where to find them. By using the car park, you automatically agree to these terms and conditions. 

What is a Parking Charge Notice (PCN)?

A Parking Charge Notice is the official name of a private parking fine. 

They might also go by the name of a contractual Parking Charge Notice, simply because the individual who receives one is deemed to have broken the contractual agreement when they used the private car park. You might return to your car to find a ticket, or “invoice” attached to your windscreen. This is also known as a notice to the driver, and its purpose is to give you information about why you have received a parking charge.

You shouldn’t confuse a Parking Charge Notice with a Penalty Charge Notice, despite their similar sounding names and an identical abbreviation – PCN. 

What’s the difference between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice?

A Parking Charge Notice is the name of the parking ticket you can get from a private car park operator, whereas a Penalty Charge Notice is a legally enforceable fine you can get from a local council or Transport for London for different traffic offences, including council parking contraventions. 

It’s strongly believed that private car parking companies chose to name their parking tickets similar to council parking tickets to trick people into thinking they have a fine that much more easily be legally enforced than it actually can be. 

To understand the difference between these two types of UK parking fines, we recommend checking out this easy-to-follow parking ticket rules guide.

How much is a parking ticket fine UK?

A private parking ticket fine is currently capped at £100. But the car park company is obligated to offer at least a 40% discount if you pay within 14 days. So the fine can be reduced to £60 at most.

The situation is extremely fluid. New plans were brought in to reduce the maximum private parking fine to £50, which was due to come into effect in 2023. However, a new review is being undertaken in 2022 which could stop most of these fines from being slashed in half. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

Can I be issued a parking ticket while in my car?

Yes, you can be issued a parking ticket while in your vehicle. Whether or not you’re inside or outside your vehicle is irrelevant to whether you’ve committed a parking contravention.

However, if you’re sitting in your vehicle preparing to leave, there might be times when you can avoid a parking ticket. Read our parking ticket while in your car post to uncover this loophole! 

If you enter a legally operated private car park, you agree to the terms and conditions of using the car park, and therefore the car park operator is within its right to issue you with a Parking Charge Notice. This is also known as a notice to the keeper, and it’s to let you know there is a parking charge being levied against you.

The legality of private parking tickets was confirmed in a well-documented legal battle between Bevis and Parking Eye Limited. This is just one of many famous parking ticket court cases. 

Are Parking Charge Notices enforceable?

Private parking fines can become enforceable by a court. The private parking company would need to take you to court and convince a judge to order you to pay. 

The situation is complicated because not all parking companies are willing to take legal action. We’ve made your options and the associated risk easy to understand in our Are Private Car Park Fines Enforceable? post.  

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.

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More on Private Parking Companies!

Need help dealing with a specific private car park operator? MoneyNerd has you covered! We’ve written about the biggest private car park companies across the UK, helping motorists to deal with these businesses effectively and within their rights. 

Can a private car park take you to court?

Yes, if you don’t pay a private parking ticket the car park operator could decide to take you to court to make you pay. They would need to ask a judge to issue you with a court order that makes you pay the parking ticket

And if that doesn’t make you pay, they could ask the court for permission to use debt enforcement action to recover the money. But just because they can doesn’t mean they will!

Do I legally have to pay private parking fines?

You don’t legally have to pay a private parking fine until a court tells you to pay. However, to make certain that you won’t be taken to court, you may wish to pay before any legal escalation occurs

You might want to think of private parking tickets as somewhat like invoices from a business. It may be the case that you should pay the invoice, but you can’t be forced to pay until you’ve been taken to court. 

Can a private car park send bailiffs?

Private car parks can send bailiffs if you’ve ignored a CCJ or missed a payment after a CCJ was issued. But first, they must get the courts to issue a warrant to allow the bailiffs to come to your property. 

They cannot send bailiffs before a court order has been issued against you and without the court’s approval to use bailiffs.

It’s important to avoid an escalation like this as bailiffs add their own fees to the debt, and these fees can be mightly expensive.  

Can you ignore a Parking Charge Notice?

If you ignore a Parking Charge Notice the car park operator might:

  1. Continue asking you to pay
  2. Use a debt collection group to chase you for payment (these aren’t bailiffs!)
  3. Take legal action against you to make you pay

It’s a risk to assume they won’t take legal action and you can keep ignoring your Parking Charge Notice. But it’s also possible that if you ignore the parking ticket no legal action will be taken and you’ll never become obligated to pay. 

Is a Parking Charge Notice a criminal offence?

No, a Parking Charge Notice isn’t a criminal offence and won’t result in a criminal conviction. They’re considered minor road offences only and the penalty can only be financial. 

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

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How long do private car parks have to issue a Parking Charge Notice?

Private car park operators should issue you with a Parking Charge Notice within 14 days when they intend to do so

For the full story and whether you can get out of your parking ticket if it arrives late, we suggest reading our private parking tickets timeline blog

Can parking tickets affect your credit UK?

Getting a private parking ticket on its own won’t affect your credit score because not paying a parking ticket isn’t reported to credit reference agencies. 

But if the car park company decides to take you to court over non-payment and the judge issues a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you, this will negatively affect your credit rating. 

A CCJ won’t be discharged unless you clear the full debt within one month. If you clear the debt after one month or not at all, the CCJ will remain on your credit score for six more years and make it harder to secure further credit. 

Once you’ve paid off the CCJ debt (after one month) the CCJ becomes “satisfied” and can somewhat improve your chances of getting approved for credit. 

How do I pay my Parking Charge Notice?

Parking Charge Notices can often be paid off over the phone, by sending a cheque or by visiting the car park company’s website. The latter is usually the most convenient and fastest way to pay.

The process for paying a Parking Charge Notice will involve you entering your vehicle registration number and your parking fine reference number to first locate your fine. This is done via a dedicated payment portal on the company’s website. 

Can you appeal private parking tickets?

Yes, if you believe you were wrongfully issued a private parking ticket, you can challenge that decision by making a Parking Charge Notice appeal. This usually has to be submitted within the first 28 days. 

You can make an appeal to the car park operator and even escalate a rejected appeal to POPLA or the IAS. 

To learn more about private parking ticket appeals, reverse back to our private parking tickets hub and then choose our appealing a parking fine guide!  

What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?

The best excuse when making a parking ticket appeal is an honest excuse that you can back up with evidence. 

There are some loopholes that can get you out of a parking fine, such as:

  1. The ticket not arriving within 14 days
  2. Lack of car park signage
  3. Out-of-service payment machines (doesn’t always work)
  4. Your car broke down
  5. You only just ran out of time

Only just running out of time on your parking is one of the best excuses. Under new rules, car park operators are obligated to give you a grace period of up to 10 minutes to get to your vehicle and exit the car park. 

They cannot issue you a parking ticket during the grace period!

Do I need a parking ticket lawyer?

It’s perfectly possible to appeal a parking ticket without a lawyer, however if you’re unsure and want some legal advice before appealing, a parking ticket lawyer will be able to tell you how successful your appeal is likely to be.

What do I do if I’ve lost my parking ticket?

If you’ve lost your parking ticket contact the private parking operator as soon as possible. By delaying, you could miss your opportunity to pay the 40% reduced fine, and you might even miss an opportunity to make a parking ticket appeal.

Do parking fines expire? 

It’s anticipated that private parking fines will expire after six years. Although the situation is complicated.

If you haven’t paid your ticket after six years, you may never have to pay. 

If your parking ticket isn’t a private parking fine…

If your parking fine is a council parking ticket instead of a private one, check out this parking fines guide to understand the key differences. They shouldn’t be dealt with in exactly the same way! 

Parking Ticket FAQs

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.

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