Paying a council car parking fine

During COVID-19 lockdown, many local councils have relaxed parking rules. But may still issue fines if, for example, you’ve parked dangerously. This guide will explain what to do if you get a fine from your local council.

If you’ve received a Penalty Charge Notice

A penalty charge notice (PCN) is issued by the council on public land – such as a council car park or high street.

Fines range from £50 to £130. They depend on where you are in the country and how serious your parking offence was.

It’s important not to ignore a PCN. If you haven’t paid within 28 days, you’ll get a ‘charge certificate’ and you’ll have 14 days to pay the original fine plus 50% more.

You’ll get a court order demanding payment if you don’t pay a charge certificate within 14 days.

To understand more about what action an enforcement agent can take, see the Citizens Advice guides to bailiffs (known as sheriffs in Scotland).

If you’re within the 28-day limit and think the PCN was unfair, you can appeal. If you do it within 14 days and your challenge is rejected, you may only have to pay 50% of the fine.

Follow the steps on your ticket as appeal rules can vary. Citizens Advice have a guide to help you with what to say.

Private or police parking fines

It’s important to check what kind of parking fine you have because the rules for dealing with missed payments are different.

A private parking charge is issued by a private company. Shopping centre and supermarket car parks will often be run by private companies.

Private parking tickets are not official fines. If you receive one and you think it’s unfair, you can appeal it with the independent adjudicator Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA).

Find more information on the POPLA site.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, if you lodged an appeal with POPLA between 6 April and 31 July your appeal may have been put on hold. Until POPLA contacts you about your case it means the car park operator can’t chase you for payment.

If you need help making your appeal, MoneySavingExpert have a free guide with template letters.

If you receive a police parking penalty (sometimes called a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)) Citizens Advice has some useful guidance on what to do.

I can’t afford to pay my fine - what should I do?

If you’ve decided not to appeal and can’t find a way to pay your parking fine, it’s best to get advice as soon you can, especially if you’ve got other debts as well.

See our guide on how to prioritise your debts to help you work out which ones to pay off first.

If you need support, find free confidential debt advice online, over the phone or near to where you live using our debt advice locator tool.

What to do if you’ve missed payments for a Penalty Charge Notice

The government is encouraging all councils to take a flexible approach to parking penalties.

If you’re within the 28-day limit, find out if they’ve extended their discount payment periods or can extend the date by which you need to pay the PCN.

If you’ve had multiple parking fines your council might set up a payment plan or stagger when you make individual payments.

It will help your case if you can explain how much you can afford to pay by setting your personal budget.

Make an emergency budget

It’s a good idea to work how much you can afford to pay before you contact your council.

Money Navigator Tool

Looking for money guidance, but don’t know where to begin? You’re not alone. Get started with Money Navigator, giving you instant help based on your circumstances.

Get started.

First, check out our Coronavirus support hub, to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to.

If your income has been affected by coronavirus, find out what benefits you might be entitled to using the Turn2Us benefits calculator.

If you’re worried about your finances, look at what you’re spending and what income you have coming in.

Use our Budget Planner tool to help you do this.

Find out how to save money and increase incomeopens in new window to help you catch up with your payments on the StepChange website.

I’m a key worker or received the fine while carrying out an essential public service

The government has a free parking scheme for NHS health and social care staff and NHS COVID-19 volunteers (critical care workers).

If you belong to this scheme, you should have a special parking permit.

Councils have been advised not to issue PCNs to key workers unless they’re parked dangerously.

If you belong to the scheme and have received a PCN, write to the council that issued the fine with evidence of your key worker status to explain why it’s unfair.

Did you find this guide helpful?