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Appealing a parking ticket

This advice applies to England

Check the type of parking ticket you have before you start. How to appeal will be different depending on if it’s a:

  • Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN) from the council – issued on public land, such as a high street or council car park
  • Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or parking company – issued on private land, such as a supermarket car park
  • Fixed Penalty Notice from the police - issued on red routes, white zig zags or where the police manage parking

Your parking ticket or letter will say if it’s from the council, the police, or a parking company.

Don’t pay a parking ticket that you’re appealing. Usually, paying is seen as admitting the ticket was right – so you won’t be able to appeal it once you've paid. 

If you're worried about not paying, call whoever gave you the ticket and ask them to confirm that you shouldn't pay if you're appealing. 

Appealing a notice from the council

You need to take the following steps to appeal a PCN or ECN for parking. It’s free to do and always worth trying if you have reason to appeal. Read more about when it’s a good idea to appeal

If you’ve been given a PCN for a ‘moving traffic offence’ – like driving in a bus lane or through a no entry sign – go to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (outside London) or London Tribunals (in London) website to appeal. 

Write to the council

Write to the council clearly explaining why you object – this is called making an informal appeal. You’ll have 14 days to make an informal appeal from when you were given the notice, or 21 days if it was sent to you by post.

Include any evidence you have, because this will give you a greater chance of success. This could be:

  • a valid pay and display ticket
  • photos to show there were no road markings to restrict parking
  • photos of signs that are hard to see or understand
  • a letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – write ‘Witness statement’ at the top of this
  • a repair note, if your car broke down

Make sure you include:

  • the date the ticket was issued
  • your address
  • your vehicle registration number
  • the penalty notice number

It’s best to send copies rather than originals in case they’re lost in the post. Send the documents by recorded delivery, so you’ll be able to prove they arrived.

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

If your informal appeal is rejected

You’ll be sent a letter and a form called a ‘notice to owner’. Don't be put off if the letter sounds final – you still have 28 days to make a formal appeal, called ‘making formal representations’. It’s free to appeal and the notice to owner will tell you how.

You can usually get a 50% discount if you pay soon after your informal appeal is rejected. It's a good idea to pay at this point if the council have a strong reason for objecting your appeal.

If your formal appeal is rejected

You’ll be sent a letter called a ‘notice of rejection’. If you have a PCN you can challenge the council’s decision at an independent tribunal. It’s free to do and you don’t have to go to the tribunal – you can submit your reasons and evidence in writing. The notice of rejection will give details of how to appeal to an independent tribunal.

Unlike a PCN, you can't appeal an ECN any further so you should pay if your formal appeal is rejected. 

You should pay your PCN if the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal. If you refuse to pay, the council can take you to court – your credit rating will be affected and you’ll have to pay court costs.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you can't afford to pay your parking ticket. 

Appealing a Parking Charge Notice

Take the following steps to appeal a Parking Charge Notice:

1. Check if a parking company is an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) member

Check the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites to see if a parking company is an ATA member. You can also call the BPA on 01444 447 300 to check if a company is an ATA member. Calls to this number can cost up to 12p a minute from a landline, or between 8p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay).

Don’t pay a parking ticket from a company that’s not an ATA member. They can’t take you to court because they can’t get your details from the DVLA. They can only chase you for a parking ticket if you give them your address, so don’t contact them.

If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member, report them to Action Fraud because the company could have got your details illegally.

2. Contact the parking company if they’re an ATA member

You can find a parking company’s contact details on the BPA or IPC websites or on the Parking Charge Notice. Check on the notice if you must appeal on the parking company’s website or if you can write to them with your reasons for objecting. Appealing directly to the parking company is called making an informal appeal – you must do this before you make a formal appeal.

You can use our template letter to write to the parking company.

Include any evidence you have, for example:

  • a valid pay and display ticket
  • photos of signs that are hard to see or understand, or where the information is misleading
  • a letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – write ‘Witness statement’ at the top of this
  • a repair note, if your car broke down

For a hospital parking ticket, you should send evidence to the parking company if your appointment was running late. Ask the hospital receptionist to print a note on headed paper, saying there were delays.

Parking tickets on a private road

On a private road – which must have signs saying ‘private’ – a parking company has to be an ATA member to get your address from the DVLA. The ticket will be for trespassing because you can’t park on private land without the landowner’s permission. To appeal, write to the parking company if they're an ATA member saying why you weren’t trespassing. Include any evidence, for example a letter from the landowner giving you permission to park. 

If you’ve been clamped

Check the notice left with the clamp to see if it’s from the police, the council, the DVLA, or a private company acting on their behalf. They’re the only ones allowed to clamp your car on private land.

You should call the police on 101 if you’ve been clamped by a private landowner or company working for them. The police will remove the clamp. Don’t remove the wheel clamp yourself – you could be taken to court for criminal damage. You could also be taken to court for theft if you keep the clamp.

If your informal appeal is rejected

You can appeal to an independent appeals service. It’s free to do, so it’s worth trying if you still think your ticket was unfair. They might see things differently to the parking company and agree that your ticket should be cancelled. They won’t cancel a ticket because of an unexpected event, for example if you were delayed because you were feeling unwell.

The way to appeal will depend on if the parking company that gave you the ticket is a member of the BPA or IPC approved operators scheme. Make a formal appeal to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) if they’re a BPA parking company. If they’re an IPC member, make a formal appeal to the Independent Appeals Service.

For a ticket from a BPA member, you have 28 days from when your informal appeal was rejected to make a formal appeal. You have 21 days to appeal if your ticket is from an IPC member. Make sure you include any evidence that will support your case.

If your formal appeal is rejected

You should pay your parking ticket. If you don’t, the cost could go up because you might have to go to court and pay court costs.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you can't afford to pay your parking ticket. 

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you still think your ticket was unfair and want to report the parking company to Trading Standards. You'll need to pay the ticket even if you report the company.

Appealing a Fixed Penalty Notice

Check the Fixed Penalty Notice to see if it was issued by the council or the police. Write to them, clearly explaining why you object – this is called making an informal appeal.

Include any evidence you have, because this will give you a greater chance of success. This could be:

  • a photo to show road markings or signs were confusing
  • a letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – write ‘Witness statement’ at the top of this
  • a repair note, if your car broke down

Make sure you include:

  • the date the ticket was issued
  • your address
  • your vehicle registration number
  • the penalty notice number

To write to the police, send your letter to the Central Ticket Office closest to where the notice was issued. Not all areas allow you to raise informal appeals. Call the issuing police force – or any number listed on the notice – to check.

To write to the council, use the address on the notice or letter.

If your informal appeal is rejected

You’ll be sent a letter saying your notice won't be cancelled.

It’s a good idea to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice if your informal appeal is rejected. The only other option is to ask for a hearing in a magistrates’ court.

This can be expensive as your fine will increase by 50% if you lose, and you’ll have to pay court costs. It can also be quite stressful – you’ll need to go to the hearing to plead not guilty.

You'll receive a refund for the Fixed Penalty Notice if your appeal is successful.

You should get legal advice if you decide to appeal through a magistrates’ court. A legal adviser can help you prepare for court and may be able to go to the hearing with you.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to get help hiring a legal adviser.