A Guide to Parking Charge Notices

This guide is based on 6 PCNs and one court case experienced by the author, and may not be a complete and accurate guide to the law.

A PCN may be a Parking Charge Notice or a Penalty Charge Notice. Its important to be clear about which you have received because the rules are different.

A Parking Charge Notice may be received for an infringment of parking conditions on private land, such as in hospital, gym or supermarket car parks. When you park, you enter a contract with the parking company and agree to the conditions on the signs. They can invoice you for an infringement of their conditions and pursue payment through the court.

A Penalty Charge Notice may be received for an infringement of parking rules on a highway. They will be issued by the Highway Authority, commonly the local council will be the highway authority except on motorways and trunk roads. This guide is not relevant to Penalty Charge Notices.

On what basis may you appeal a Parking Charge Notice?

Excuse Analysis Outcome
I have a permit or ticket but it was out-of-date or I forgot to display it or the wind blew it on to the floor. Tough. A valid permit or ticket has to be displayed. Pay.
I didn’t know or forgot to give my registration number to reception. This is a condition of parking. Pay.
I have a blue badge. I am disabled. I am blind and deaf and I have no body or limbs. Check the signs to see if there is an exception, but otherwise the parking contract still applies. Pay.
The car park was empty or the business was closed. The parking contract still applies. Pay.
I couldn’t leave the car park within the allowed time because of traffic congestion. The parking contract still applies. Pay
I was only there a few minutes. Check the wording on the signs. There may be a grace period to allow time for drivers to read the signs. The grace period may be only 5 or 10 minutes. Pay
My car was on fire and I had a dozen babies in the back and I parked up to attend to the problem. I overstayed because I was delayed due to saving lives. (Your sob storey here.) No exceptions. The parking contract does not require the parking company to be reasonable or to cut you any slack. Pay.
I am poor because (insert reason here) so I can’t afford to pay the charge. I can’t feed my family if I pay the charge. The parking contract does not provide exceptions for poors. Pay.
I didn’t notice the signs because I was in a hurry, it was dark, or some reason. Tough. The signs are clear. Pay.
The parking space is included in my lease or tenancy. You may have some leverage with the freeholder or landlord. If not, you must still comply with the signs. Pay.
I am a good customer of the premises. Some premises may have some leverage. See the manager. Take evidence. The PCN may still stand. If so, you’ll have to pay.
I received the notice late because it was routed through the hire car company or through my employer. Now there are additional charges. This is not the parking company’s fault. Pay, including the extra charges.
I never received a notice. I found out that it was sent to my previous address. Charges have been added. Notices are sent to the vehicle keeper’s address as held by the DVLA. Its your obligation to ensure that the address held by the DVLA is correct. Pay, including the added charges.
The notice was issued by post after the contravention. I didn’t receive the notice within 14 days. If the contravention is dated and the ticket is dated, and allowing 3 business days for postage, the period is over 14 days, then the notice is invalid. Appeal and don’t pay.
I’m not paying. They never bother going to court over small amounts. This used to be the general advice, but nowadays private car park law is well established and the parking companies have streamlined the small claims procedure. You will be taken to court, they will win and you will incur additional fees. Pay promptly to keep the cost down.
I’m certain I wasn’t there. I’ve checked the photographs and it is my registration number. Somebody cloned it. Have you reported this to the Police? Have you got a crime reference number? Can you prove it wasn’t your vehicle in the photograph? Have you got evidence you were elsewhere at the time? Appeal. Include full evidence. Evidence can’t be added later until you are taken to court. Don’t pay.


  • Check the signs every time you park.
  • Don’t assume the parking company will be reasonable.
  • The premises may be able to get a notice waived but ultimately the parking company has a contract to run the car park.
  • If you have to pay, pay promptly to keep the cost down.
  • Business is business. The parking companies are not your friend.