• Should You Pay a Parking Ticket or Can You Ignore It

    Should You Pay a Parking Ticket or Can You Ignore It?

    Having a parking ticket handed to you, left on your vehicle or through the post can be distressing, especially when you don’t believe you broke any rules. Perhaps you’re thinking of appealing? Or maybe you’re wondering whether you should just pay up and get it over and done with? This guide has been created so that you can decide whether to pay, appeal, or simply ignore your parking ticket altogether. Today you’ll learn:

    1. What private parking tickets are and the rules that come with it
    2. Find out whether you have to pay the fine
    3. Know the difference between a penalty charge notice and a parking charge notice
    4. How to go about appealing your parking fine
    5. Whether or not parking fines impact your credit score

    What is a private car park?

    A private car park is a car park owned by a private landowner instead of the local council. The landowner may choose to manage the car park themselves, but quite often they acquire the services of a private car park management company to take care of things such as ticket enforcement.

    Private car parks are often those that are connected to hospitals, supermarkets, universities and fast food chains, but they can also be a standalone car park as well.

    Can I be fined for parking on private land?

    In short, yes.

    If you park in a private car park and don’t obey the rules set out by the landowner or parking management company, they can give you a ticket. However, the car park must have the right signage stating what those rules are, otherwise you have very solid grounds to appeal any ticket you receive. So, it’s best to always check those terms when parking in a private car park, and it might even be worth taking a picture of the sign for your records should you be ticketed for parking there.

    This is because by parking there, you automatically agree to the rules that the landowner or parking management company have set out.

    What’s a Parking Charge Notice (PCN)?

    A parking charge notice or PCN is the official name of a private parking fine. You’ll receive a parking charge notice in one of three ways:

    1. Handed to you by a parking attendant.
    2. Left on the windshield of your vehicle.
    3. Through the post.

    However, only private car parks that are members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) are able to request your details from the DVLA. Those that aren’t, won’t be able to legally get your address, which means if you decide to do nothing in regard to your ticket, you won’t hear from them again. Those that are a member of an ATA will be able to contact you at your home address.

    You can easily check if a parking company is a member of an 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.

    Additionally, it’s important not to confuse a Parking Charge Notice with a Penalty Charge Notice. While the acronyms are the same, the way you deal with them is completely different.

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

    A penalty charge notice (PCN) 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 (PCN) 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.

    You might be wondering why the acronym is the same, and it’s strongly believed that private car parking companies deliberately used the same acronym to trick people into thinking that they have a fine that’s much more legally enforceable than it actually can be.

    In truth, while private car parking companies can take you to court for the fine, there’s a good chance they won’t because of how little the fine is for – it’s simply not worth their time. But, don’t fool yourself into thinking they won’t because it isn’t unheard of either.

    How much do private parking fines cost in the UK?

    Currently (2024), a private parking ticket is capped at £100. The amount your fined will depend on where you’ve parked your vehicle. For example, private parking fines are more likely to be on the higher end of the scale in busy areas like London, whereas smaller villages may be cheaper. It’s also important to remember that the private parking company is obliged to offer you a 40% discount if you pay within 14 days of receiving the ticket. If they don’t, you have solid grounds to appeal. With the £100 ticket as an example, if you paid within 14 days, you’d then only have to pay £60.

    A few years ago there were plans brought into place to reduce the maximum fine to £50. But, new plans came into place which has halted that from coming into effect. Currently the cap is still £100, but that may change in the future.

    Can I be issued a parking ticket if I’m in my car?

    In short, yes.

    If you’re inside of your car but still committing a parking contravention, you can still be issued with a parking charge notice. But, there is one loophole that you might be able to use to get out of a parking ticket…

    All parking attendants, whether council employed or privately employed, must give you a ten minute grace period. This means that you have ten minutes not just to get into your car, but also to leave the car park too.

    However, if you’re not parked legally, this ten minute grace period is null and void. Your best bet is to make sure that you’re parked legally at all times, regardless of whether you’re planning on leaving your vehicle or not.

    Are private car park charges legal?

    Yes. When you park in a private car park, you automatically agree to the rules or “terms and conditions” of using the car park, which means that the parking management company has the right to issue you with a parking charge notice if you break one of those rules. Another term for this is a notice to the keeper, and it’s essentially a notice to inform you that there is a parking charge coming your way for breaking the terms and conditions.

    Are Parking Charge Notices enforceable?

    This is where things can be a little bit more complicated. A parking charge notice is not enforceable unless the private parking company or landowner chooses to take you to court. Even then, they would need to convince the court that you were in the wrong and should pay the fine.

    However, in most cases, a parking management company won’t take you to court for such a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things. But don’t let that fool you into thinking you should ignore the fine; court actions against parking charge notices are not unheard of, and it might happen to you.

    Can a private car park management company take me to court?

    Yes, a private car park management company can take you to court. But, even then, they will need to convice the judge that you were in the wrong and should pay the fine. If they win, you will receive a court order that demands you pay the ticket by law.

    If you choose to ignore the court order, you could end up with bailiffs visiting your home to recover possessions to pay off that debt. So, ignoring fines won’t necessarily make the problem go away and in fact, could make things so much worse for you!

    Do I legally have to pay private parking fines?

    No, you don’t legally have to pay a parking charge notice unless the parking management company takes you to court and wins. To avoid being taken to court, you’ll need to decide whether to just pay the fine or start an appeals process.

    A better way of looking at private parking fines is by treating them like they are an invoice rather than a parking ticket. While you should pay an invoice, you can’t legally be forced unless you’re taken to court and the opposition wins.

    Will I have bailiffs show up if I don’t pay my private parking fine?

    In short, yes.

    Private car park management companies will be allowed to legally send bailiffs if you’ve ignored a CCJ or missed one of the payments after that CCJ was issued. However, they will need to get the court to issue a warrant for the bailiffs to legally come to your property to seize possessions.

    They are not allowed to send bailiffs before a court order has been issued againsts you or without permission from the court to send bailiffs.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if they do choose to use bailiffs to recover what you owe, that bailiffs will add their own charges to the debt that’s owed, which could mean that the property they seize is much more than the debt you actually owe.

    Can I ignore my Parking Charge Notice?

    You could choose to ignore a parking charge notice, but it’s not something we’d advise you to do. If you do, the parking management company may continue to hound you for payment, which could add unnecessary stress and anxiety in your life.

    They may even resort to employ a debt collection agency to chase you for the payment of the fine you owe. These aren’t bailiffs, they’re simply acting on behalf of the private parking company to collect the debt that you owe.

    It doesn’t stop there either, they could also take legal action against you by taking you to court to convince the judge to issue a court order that will legally force you to pay.

    As you can see, ignoring the fine that you owe may escalate right the way to the courts. On the same thought, the parking management company may decide that the fine simply isn’t worth it and give up all together. However, we don’t advise that you completely ignore your parking charge notice!

    Is a Parking Charge Notice a criminal offence?

    No, getting a parking charge notice isn’t seen as a criminal offence. It’s what’s known as a civil matter because all you did was commit a minor road offence, which means that the penalty for this can only be through paying a fine.

    Can a private parking ticket affect my credit score?

    Yes, it could affect your credit score.

    Just receiving a parking charge notice won’t affect your credit score because credit reference agencies don’t include parking tickets in their searches.

    However, if you ignore the fine and the parking management company decides to take you to court, you’ll be issued a court order or CCJ, which will negatively affect your credit score in the long run.

    There may be a way out of it though! If you pay the full amount within one month of being issued a CCJ, it’ll be cleared from your credit report. However, if you ignore it, miss one payment, or don’t manage to pay it within one month of it being issued, it’ll go on your credit report and stay there for six years, which could make it harder to get credit in the future.

    How can I pay my Parking Charge Notice?

    With today’s technology it’s actually easier than you think to pay your parking charge notice. Arguably, the easiest way of paying it is by visiting the website of the private parking management company that issued you with the PCN to pay it off. They will have a dedicated payment portal that makes it quick and easy to do.

    There are other methods such as paying over the phone or sending a cheque off in the post, but all of the ways you can pay will be detailed on the PCN itself.

    How do I appeal my private parking ticket?

    If you want to appeal your parking charge notice because you don’t think it was fairly issued to you, the first step you need to take is to make an informal appeal to the private parking company that issued you with the PCN. You’ll need to include a valid reason for not paying the parking ticket, as well as evidence such as photos, videos, or even GPS location marks to prove that you weren’t breaking any rules. 

    This will need to be done within 28 days of the date on the PCN itself. If you’re successful (and people have won their appeal this way before), then your fine will be completely wiped and the company will no longer contact you.

    The private parking company will then have 56 days to review, consider, and give you decision regarding your appeal. If you’re successful, the fine will be wiped. If not, there are further steps you can take.

    Note: if they don’t respond within 56 days, you automatically win the case!

    If your appeal isn’t successful, the journey doesn’t end there. Now you can make a formal appeal against the parking charge notice issued to you. You’ll now turn to an independent tribunal to take a look at your case. There are two groups you can use:

    1. Independent Appeals Service (IAS)
    2. Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA)

    The independent group you end up using will depend which ATA the private parking company is a member of:

    1. You’ll use the Independent Appeals Service (IAS) if the company is a member of the International Parking Community.
    2. You’ll use Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) if the company is a member of the British Parking Association.

    Remember that if the private parking company isn’t a member of an ATA, they cannot request your details legally from the DVLA, which means you can choose to ignore the parking charge notice.

    What are some good excuses when appealing my parking ticket?

    When it comes tp appealing a parking charge notice, you’ll need to have a good reason as well as evidence to make sure your appeal is solid. Without it, you don’t stand much of a chance of winning your appeal. There are some very good reasons you can use that will help build a strong case:

    1. You weren’t given the 10 minute grace period to leave the car park.
    2. There was unclear or insufficient signage in tha car park.
    3. Your vehicle had broken down (you’ll need proof of this from your mechanic and possibly phonecall logs)
    4. The parking charge notice didn’t arrive within 14 days.
    5. The payment machine wasn’t working.

    Do I need a parking ticket lawyer?

    You don’t need a parking ticket lawyer, as it’s possible to appeal without using one. However, if you’re not sure on the facts, especially if you are being taken to court, you could use a lawyer to help you prepare for the court date as well as look over any evidence you have to back up your appeal. They will be able to tell you the likelihood of success in your case.

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

    Firstly, don’t panic! These things happen all of the time, and it doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on the chance for a reduced fine or the ability to appeal. You’ll need to get in touch with the private parking company that issued you the fine as soon as possible. They will be able to give you the details of the PCN, as well as possibly send out another copy to you. 

    Just make sure you get in touch as soon as possible, otherwise you could end up paying the full amount or even miss your window to appeal the fine!

    Don’t ignore a parking ticket, as it could be escalated further. Either pay or appeal to avoid extra fines or a court appearance!

    Why not check out some of the most frequently asked private parking ticket FAQs below?

    Private Parking Ticket FAQs

    Does a parking ticket have to be placed on a vehicle?

    No, a parking ticket doesn’t have to be placed on your vehicle. It can be given to you in a few different ways:

    1. Handed to you by the parking attendant.
    2. Left on the windshield of your vehicle.
    3. Through the post.

    So, while parking charge notices are often left on vehicles, it’s not always the case. Most private car parks use CCTV, and will only notice the contravention when playing back the footage, which means you’re more than likely already at home.

    Will a parking ticket go on your record in the UK?

    No. A parking ticket is seen as a civil matter, not a criminal one. This means that the penalty can only be financial.

    What is the definition of a parked car?

    Your vehicle will be considered “parked” if you stop longer than necessary for loading/unloading or boarding/disembarking. So even if you stop for less than 5 minutes for any other reason, your car will be considered “parked” and not “stopped”. It doesn’t matter whether your engine is on or not!

    What are the British Parking Association and International Parking Community?

    Legitimate private car park management companies need to be a member of an ATA, and the two main ones are the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC).

    If the private car parking company you’re using is a member of one of these, you can rest assured that they are legitimate and if you do end up needing to appeal, you have a chance of winning.

    What is the Parking on Private Land Appeals Service?

    The Parking on Private Land Appeals Service is also known as POPLA, and it’s a service you can use to escalate an appeal when the private parking company has rejected your formal appeal. You’ll only be able to use POPLA when the parking company is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA)

    Share This Post With Friend


    Lucy R.
    Lucy R.14-11-2020
    Read More
    “Always there at the end of the phone if I have any concerns, they’ve really put my mind at ease. Can’t rate them enough. Finally on the road to being debt free. Thank you guys!”
    Read More
    “I feel so much better about my debts and life has now started to get put back into perspective, so thank you very much for everything you have done!”
    Read More
    “The entire experience was carried out online and via telephone calls….it was as clear as day. I wish I was bold enough years ago. I can’t recommend you enough.”
    Read More
    “An absolutely excellent service. The representatives on the phone were more than polite and friendly, they made me feel so comfortable making a decision.”
    Read More
    “I can’t recommend enough, they are so understanding, non-judgmental and helpful. Finally had a good night’s sleep and can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
    Read More
    “Very professional and helpful. Lifted a weight from my shoulders. Thank you.”

    Recent Posts


    The Debt Advice Service

    We will not charge you a fee for providing you with information to help you decide on an appropriate debt solution. However, if you subsequently enter into debt solution process we may receive payment from the provider for information that we have given to you in advance and/or for assisting you in gathering necessary documentation to begin your chosen solution. Any such fees will be explained in detail by the provider before commencing your chosen debt solution.

    Contact us today | Get on track to a debt-free life

    No one should have to deal with financial troubles alone. Whether you’re looking to resolve your financial struggle once and for all or just want to ease the burden by talking things through, we can offer you information and assistance on how best to proceed. Get in touch today to take the first step towards a better financial future. See if you qualify.

    "This has been a massive weight off my shoulders"

    Are you ready to do something about your debts? Don’t spend another day ‘thinking’ about it. Take control of your finances by clicking the link below and filling in the short form.