Stopping bailiffs taking your vehicle

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Bailiffs (also called ‘enforcement agents’) could clamp or remove your vehicle if they’re collecting a debt you haven’t paid.

It’s usually the first thing they’ll look for because they can take it while you’re not home.

When bailiffs can’t take your vehicle

Bailiffs can’t clamp or remove your vehicle if you can prove:

  • it has a valid Blue Badge or is a Motability vehicle

  • you need it for your job and it’s worth less than £1,350

  • it's also your home - for example a campervan

If it's a vehicle you bought using hire purchase

Your vehicle is still owned by the company you made the finance agreement with if you bought it using:

  • hire purchase

  • a personal contract plan

  • conditional sale

This means bailiffs usually can’t take it, but the law is complicated and sometimes bailiffs might say they can.

If bailiffs try to take your vehicle, you can look up your vehicle on the HPI check website. This will let you prove you’re still paying for your vehicle on hire purchase or lease hire. If bailiffs still take your vehicle, contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

Find out what evidence you can use to stop bailiffs taking your vehicle.

If you don’t think bailiffs should have taken your vehicle you should complain.

Move your vehicle somewhere safe

If you think bailiffs could take your vehicle you should move it somewhere safe while you sort out the debt.

Bailiffs can only clamp your vehicle if they find it parked at your home, business or in a public place like a road or car park.

To stop them clamping your vehicle you can:

  • park it in a locked garage

  • move it to a friend or family member’s driveway - make sure you have their permission

It isn’t enough to leave your vehicle parked on a different road - bailiffs will search the roads around your home and clamp your vehicle if they find it.

If you don't make arrangements to sort out the debt the bailiff will keep trying to find your vehicle. It’s best to arrange to pay as soon as you can.

If bailiffs clamp your vehicle

It’s important to act quickly. Bailiffs can come back and take your vehicle after a minimum of 2 hours if you don’t make arrangements to pay.

You can stop them removing your vehicle by:

They won’t remove the clamp until you arrange to pay - unless you complain because you don’t think they should have clamped it.

They’ll have to leave a ‘warning of immobilisation’ on your vehicle - this shows when they clamped the vehicle and a phone number you can call to arrange payment.

Don’t remove the clamp or move your vehicle - this is illegal.

You’ll normally have fees added to your overall debt when bailiffs visit and clamp or remove your vehicle. Read more about bailiff’s fees.

After you’ve paid your debt or made a controlled goods agreement the bailiffs will remove the clamp.

If bailiffs take your vehicle

The bailiffs can remove your vehicle and sell it to pay off your debt if you haven’t arranged to pay or you’ve broken your controlled goods agreement.

They’ll need to give you a receipt - check the bailiff has signed it and it shows the model and colour of your vehicle.

There could still be time to stop them selling your vehicle. Check how to get your belongings back before they’re sold.

Complain if bailiffs break the rules

You should complain if the bailiff has clamped your vehicle and you don’t think they’re allowed to.

It’s best to complain to the creditor - this is the person or company you owe money to. If you email the creditor you should copy in the bailiff’s company.

Explain how they’ve broken the rules and ask them to remove the clamp.

If they won’t remove the clamp you should contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Help us improve our website

Take 3 minutes to tell us if you found what you needed on our website. Your feedback will help us give millions of people the information they need.