Consumer Skills
08th October 2019

Top tips for steering clear of private parking tickets

The Consumer Council is advising drivers in Northern Ireland on how to avoid penalties whilst parking on private land or in a car park which is operated by a private organisation, such as a retail park.

Mark Crawford, Interim Head of Consumer Empowerment and Protection at The Consumer Council, said: “We are noticing an increasing number of car parks being operated by private parking companies across Northern Ireland. For example, car parking facilities at Forestside Shopping Centre in Belfast are now being operated by Smart Parking.

“With this in mind, it is more important than ever for consumers to be aware of how to avoid getting a costly and frustrating Parking Charge Notice. Here are a few top tips for avoiding such a penalty:

  • 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;
  • Always keep your ticket – Just in case you receive a Parking Charge Notice; and
  • 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.”

Mark added: “We would encourage anyone who has received a Parking Charge Notice to get in touch with us in the first instance. In the last 12 months, we have assisted over 1,000 consumers across Northern Ireland in appealing PCNs received from private parking companies, saving consumers almost £73,000.”

If you have received an unfair private parking ticket, please contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or you can download our Private Parking Charges Factsheet from