If you receive a Penalty Charge Notice you can find information on how to pay or appeal by visiting the NI Direct website.

Most councils in Northern Ireland have the power to enforce parking penalties under the ‘The Traffic Management (Northern Ireland) Order 2005’. However, some council owned car parks in Northern Ireland are now being managed by private parking companies, which can cause confusion for motorists, as the PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) is being issued by a private company, not the Department for Infrastructure (DfI). As the car park is owned by the council the same rules that apply to on-street parking will apply here and therefore the Penalty Charge Notice will need to be paid or appealed and should not be ignored.

Information on how to appeal a Penalty Charge Notice issued on behalf of a council owned car park will be detailed on the back of the Penalty Charge letter/notice or can be found on the website of the local Council area.

What to do if you get a Parking Charge Notice

If you have received a PCN, use our PCN Appeal web page to appeal the PCN. 

Some companies will refuse to consider an appeal if it is not received prior to the charge being passed to a debt recovery company.

If you wish to discuss the PCN you have received or have any queries about how to appeal it or the options available to you, please call us on 0800 121 6022 or (028) 902 51600. You can also email us to contact@consumercouncil.org.uk and include a copy of the PCN letter along with your specific query. Our staff can only directly appeal PCN cases that are extraordinary in nature or if the consumer is vulnerable. If we deem the PCN straight forward, we will ask that you make the appeal yourself using the template letter provided on our PCN Appeal web page.

How are Parking Charge Notices issued?

Car parks that are managed by a private parking company may have an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera at the entrance and exit of the car park to monitor the facility. This camera will photograph your car entering and exiting the car park to calculate the period of time you have parked. If you parked for longer than the time advertised then you will receive a PCN. 

Some companies will issue a PCN on the spot and this will be fixed to your windscreen, while others that have ANPR cameras will issue you the charge via post. 

How to avoid getting a Parking Charge Notice

  • Read the signs – Be sure to look for signage which confirms the length of time you are allowed to park, and other terms and conditions;
  • Park correctly – Parking Charge Notices are not just for over-staying. You can be ticketed for parking over the white lines; 
  • Show your permits – If you are a permit-holder, or blue badge carrier, ensure it is clearly visible; 
  • Check your registration – Ensure you enter the correct car registration in Pay and Display machines. Failure to do so will lead to a Parking Charge Notice even if you have paid the correct amount; 
  • Do not use blue badge or permit holder spaces – Unless you have the permits to do so, parking in spaces for blue badge or permit holders may result in clamping as well as a Penalty Charge Notice; and 
  • Always keep your ticket – Just in case you receive a parking charge notice. 
  • If you work in a retail park – If you are employed by a retailer within a privately managed car park/site, you may be exempt from paying parking charges if there is a parking scheme in place. Speak to your employer for further advice and to provide your registration details.

More information

We have provided a template appeal letter that must only be used by the registered keeper of the vehicle if they were not driving on the date of the alleged parking contravention, when appealing a Parking Charge Notice (PCN).

For more information, you can also download our factsheet below.