What’s the difference between Penalty Charge Notices and Parking Charge Notices?

Penalty charge notices can only be issued by local authorities.   Parking charge notices are issued by private parking companies.   The wallets that they come in are very similar, they are bright yellow with a back border and bold black type. 

Local authorities have jurisdiction over parking in public land in their area, private companies are limited to the private land that they are responsible for.   It’s estimated that over 6.5 million parking charge notices are issued in the UK each year by private parking companies.    The DVLA receive around £16 million pounds by processing information requests for parking offences, although they state that they do not make a profit from this service.

A penalty charge notice is a civil offence, not a criminal one.  Points are not added to the license of the driver and the penalty is always a fine. The amount varies depending on the location and nature of the offence.

When you park on private land you agree to abide by the rules of the car park which must be clearly visible on signs around the area.   There is some incorrect information circulating stating that parking charge notices do not have to be paid as they are not legally enforceable.  This is not correct; many people are taken to court for not paying parking charge notices.   If you have broken the rules of the car park it is best to pay for the ticket quickly as the price of the charge will go up, often after 14 or 28 days.  If you believe that a mistake has been made, then contact the parking company or the council with details as soon as you receive the ticket.

Why are Parking Charge Notices Issued?

Car park operators issue PCNs for many reasons.   Overstaying your paid time in a car park is a common one.  Often supermarkets or out of town shopping centres will have a two- or four-hour maximum stay. Always check the signs when you enter a car park.   If you overstay or do not have the correct ticket duration you will be liable to be charged.     Cars that are badly parked, for example across multiple bays, blocking exits or on double yellow lines are liable to be ticketed.

How to avoid PCNs

Park safely, within the bay.

Do not park in disabled / visitor / reserved bays without the correct badges.

Don’t overstay the allowed time. You could set a timer on your phone to remind you.

Follow these simple guidelines and keep car parks operating smoothly and safely and avoid getting unnecessary tickets.