• What's the Difference Penalty Charge Notice vs Parking Charge Notice

    What’s the Difference? Penalty Charge Notice vs Parking Charge Notice

    If you’ve had a parking ticket handed to you, left on your car or arrive via the post, you’re probably wondering what comes next and feeling a little anxious about what it all means. The first thing to remember is that you’re not alone! Hundreds of thousands of people receive parking tickets in the UK every day, and they’re not as confusing or scary to deal with as you might think.

    However, there is one thing that’s slightly confusing. There are two different types of parking ticket you can get. And, both have the same acronym; PCN. Because of this, motorists can quickly become confused between the two and end up paying.

    Luckily, we’ve created this article to explain the difference between the two. So, what’s the difference between a parking charge notice and a penalty charge notice?

    What’s a Penalty Charge Notice?

    A penalty charge notice (PCN) is a ticket that’s been issued by the council or Transport for London (TfL) for a parking contravention on land owned by that locality. This might mean that you’ve parked somewhere for longer than allowed, not paid the right fee, or parked in a restricted area such as a bus stop or disabled space.

    You’ll receive a penalty charge notice in a number of ways:

    1. Handed to you by a civil enforcement officer – they are employed by the council and have the right to issue these to you.
    2. Left on the windshield of your vehicle.
    3. Through the post.

    When you receive a PCN through the post, it means that your contravention was caught on CCTV or you’ve ignored a civil enforcement officer. The council will then request your address from the DVLA and send the penalty charge notice to you. This means that there’s no use in driving away from a civil enforcement officer!

    Do I have to pay a Penalty Charge Notice?

    This is where it might feel slightly complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! If you admit that you were in the wrong, then yes, you do have to pay your penalty charge notice.

    However, if you don’t think you were in the wrong and plan on appealing the ticket, don’t pay it, as this is then seen as an admission of guilt. And, once you’ve paid it, you no longer have the right to appeal the ticket.

    If you’re unsure, you should contact the council that issued the ticket as soon as possible. They will be able to explain their reasoning, and if you still don’t think you should pay, you can ask them about their appeals process. Keep in mind that you have 28 days after the date on the penalty charge notice to make an appeal.

    We have a full guide on council parking fines with in-depth detail on how you can appeal, the process, and a penalty charge notice appeal letter template available for you to use!

    How do I pay a Penalty Charge Notice?

    If you don’t want to appeal your penalty charge notice because you did break a parking rule, then you have to pay it within 28 days of receiving it. The date of this will be on the penalty charge notice itself.

    And, if you pay within 14 days of receiving it, you’ll get 50% off the cost of the ticket. This means that if the penalty charge notice was £70, if you pay it within those first 14 days, you’ll only have to pay £35. So, you’re better off paying it with that time frame to save yourself some money.

    If you fail to pay the PCN within 28 days, you’ll then receive a letter called a “notice to owner”, which will tell you to pay the full amount within a further 28 days or dispute the ticket by formally challenging the council within 28 days.

    What’s a Parking Charge Notice?

    A parking charge notice (PCN) is a ticket that’s been issued by the landowner or the parking management company of a private car park. But, while the acronym PCN is the same, they are completely different.

    Basically, when you receive a parking charge notice, it means you’ve broken the rules laid out by the landowner or parking management company.

    You’ll receive a parking charge notice in two ways:

    1. Handed to you by a parking attendant.
    2. A ticket left on the windshield of your vehicle.

    Do I have to pay a Parking Charge Notice?

    In short, no.

    A parking charge notice might have the same acronym as a penalty charge notice, but in this case, it’s essentially an invoice for breaking a rule when parking on private land. The ticket that you receive gives you the chance to pay for breaching those rules to then avoid further legal action.

    A parking charge notice is not legally enforceable unless the landowner or private parking company decide to take the matters to court.

    You have three options to consider when you receive a parking charge notice:

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Pay the fine.
    3. Appeal the ticket.

    The first thing you should do is check that the private parking company that issued the ticket are a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) by calling the International Parking Community (IPC) or the British Parking Association (BPA).

    Essentially, if the company isn’t a member of an ATA, don’t make contact with them. Only members of an ATA can get your address from the DVLA. If they aren’t a member of an ATA, you probably won’t hear from them again unless you’ve given your address to them – we advise you don’t! It also means that you can avoid the ticket.

    However, if the parking management company is a member of an ATA, you shouldn’t ignore the ticket, because it won’t just go away.

    We have a full guide on private parking fines with in-depth detail on how you can appeal, the process, and a parking charge notice appeal letter template available for you to use!

    How do I pay a Parking Charge Notice?

    If you realise you did break a parking rule and want to pay the fine as soon as possible, try and pay within 14 days. Much like a council parking ticket, you’ll have 28 days to pay the fine. However, if you pay within 14 days, you’ll get a discount on the ticket here too.

    Most private parking companies will have a dedicated payment portal to quickly and easily make your payment online. However, there will be details on the parking charge notice itself if you need to pay using a different method.

    So, what’s the difference between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice?

    To sum up, a penalty charge notice is issued by the council, and it’s legally enforceable. This means that you either have to pay or start an appeals process.

    A parking charge notice is an invoice for breaking parking rules set by the parking management company and is not enforceable unless they decide to take you to court for the fine.

    Don’t get caught up and pay for something if you don’t believe you were in the wrong. We have guides for both penalty charge notices and parking charge notices explaining the appeals process and other useful information about the two!

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    Lucy R.
    Lucy R.14-11-2020
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