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Appealing a parking ticket

This advice applies to Wales

How to appeal depends on the type of parking ticket you have - check what the ticket says before you start. Most parking tickets will be one of:

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

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 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)

You need to take the following steps to appeal a PCN.

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.

Make a formal appeal

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 you don’t appeal and don’t pay within 28 days, the penalty will go up by another 50%.

Appeal to a tribunal

If your formal appeal's 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. Appeal online on the website of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (outside London) or London Tribunals (in London).

You should pay your PCN if the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal. If you don’t pay within 28 days, the penalty will go up by another 50%. The council can then take you to court – your credit rating might be affected and you might also have to pay court costs.

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

Appealing an Excess Charge Notice (ECN)

You need to take the following steps to appeal an ECN.

Make an appeal

You have at least 7 days to make an appeal. It’s free to appeal and the ECN 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 appeal’s rejected

If your appeal’s rejected and you don’t pay, the council can take you to the Magistrates’ Court. You can tell the court why you don’t think you have to pay.

If the court decides against you, your credit rating might be affected and you might also have to pay court costs.

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

Appealing a Parking Charge Notice

Take the following steps to appeal a Parking Charge Notice:

Check if the parking company is a member of an accredited trade association (ATA)

If the parking company put the ticket on your car and it isn’t an ATA member, don’t contact them unless they write to you first. They probably won’t be able to find your details - only ATA members can get your name and address from the DVLA.

Check the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites to see if a parking company is a member of an ATA.

You can also call the BPA on 01444 447 300 to check if a company is a member.

Calls usually cost up to 55p a minute from mobiles and up to 13p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you have a contract that includes calls to landlines - check with your supplier if you're not sure.

If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member

If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member, they have got your address and you should reply.

They might have got your details illegally. You can complain to the DVLA about them possibly sharing your data illegally by writing to Data Sharing Strategy and Compliance Team, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DY. If you’re not happy with their response, you can report the breach to the Information Commissioner.

Write to the parking company

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 use the parking company’s website or if you can write to them with your reasons for objecting. You must write to them before you make a formal appeal to an independent appeals service.

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
  • permission from the landowner

The Parking Charge Notice is normally left on the car or given to you - this is called a ‘notice to driver’.

If a notice to driver wasn’t left on the car, the parking company has to send a Parking Charge Notice to the registered owner - this is called a ‘notice to keeper’.

The notice to keeper must be delivered within 14 days after the last day of parking. If the notice to keeper isn’t delivered to you in time, tell the parking company you don’t have to pay the charge.

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.

Appeal to an independent appeals service

If the parking company isn’t an ATA member, there’s no formal appeals process but there are other things you can do.

If the parking company is an ATA member, 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.

For a ticket from an IPC member, you can make a formal appeal for free within 21 days. After 21 days, you can still appeal within 1 year of your formal appeal being rejected if you pay a £15 fee.

Make sure you include any evidence that will support your case.

If your formal appeal is rejected or you can't appeal

There are still things you can do but you’ll risk having to pay more money in the end. You might be better off just paying your parking ticket.

Let the parking company take you to court

You can choose not to pay your parking ticket and the parking company will decide if it’s worth taking you to court.

If the parking company takes you to court and you lose:

  • you’ll have to pay the fine, which could go up by then

  • you might have to pay court costs - these could be expensive

If you win:

  • you won’t have to pay the fine

  • the parking company might have to pay court costs

Pay and make a small claim to get the money back

If you don’t want the parking company to take you to court, you should pay your parking ticket - this will stop the fine going up.

When you pay, you should say you’re ‘paying under protest’. It’s a good idea to put it in writing so you can keep a copy.

Then you can go to court and make a ‘small claim’ to try to get your money back - find out how to make a small claim.

You’ll have to pay a fee to make a small claim - you can find out how much the fee will be on GOV.UK. You might also have to pay court costs if you lose your case.

If you’re claiming because your parking ticket was unfair, you might have to make 2 separate claims. You’ll also have to pay 2 fees.

The first claim is to agree that your parking ticket is unfair. If the court agrees that it is, the parking company has to cancel the fine.

The second claim is to decide how much the fine should have been if it was fair. The court might decide that you still have to pay a fine, but it should be smaller.

You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if  you want to report the parking company to Trading Standards because your ticket was unfair.

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.

If you’ve been clamped on private land

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.

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