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Appealing against a parking ticket

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

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) from Transport NI – issued on public land, such as a high street.

  • Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or parking company – issued on private land, such as a supermarket car park

  • Fixed Penalty Notice from Transport NI or 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 Transport NI, the police, or a parking company.

Don’t pay a parking ticket that you’re appealing against. Usually, paying is seen as admitting the ticket was right – so you won’t be able to appeal 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 against a Penalty Charge Notice

You need to take the following steps to appeal against a PCN 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’ – for example, driving in a bus lane or through a no entry sign – go to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal website to appeal.

Write to Transport NI

Write to Transport NI clearly explaining why you object. The PCN will tell you how long you have to appeal and the address to send it to.

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 letter from your doctor – explaining how your problems getting around made it difficult for you to get back to your car

  • a repair note, if your car broke down

Make sure you include:

  • the date the ticket was issued

  • your address

  • vehicle registration number

  • 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 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’. 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.

You should pay your PCN if the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal. If you refuse to pay, Transport NI 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 against 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.

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

You’ll need to pay a release fee to have the clamp removed. The notice left on the clamp or your car will tell you how much the release fee is and who to contact.

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.

Clamping on private land is legal as long as the landowner has clear signs saying wheel clamping is in use.

If your informal appeal is rejected

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice  to speak to an adviser about your options.

Appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice

Check the Fixed Penalty Notice to see if it was issued by Transport NI or the police. Write to them, clearly explaining why you object.

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

  • vehicle registration number

  • 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 Transport NI, use the address on the notice or letter.

If your appeal is successful, your Fixed Penalty Notice will be cancelled and you won’t have to pay.

If your informal appeal is rejected

You’ll be sent a letter. This will include when you need to pay by to get a 50% discount.

To keep challenging the ticket, wait for the ‘notice to owner’ to be sent to you. You’ll then have 28 days from when it arrives to make another appeal – called a ‘formal representation’.

If your formal representation is accepted

Your Fixed Penalty Notice will be cancelled and you won’t have to pay. The Parking Enforcement Processing Unit will write to confirm that your parking ticket has been cancelled.

If your formal representation is rejected

You’ll be sent a ‘notice of rejection of representation’ which includes how to appeal to an independent tribunal.

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