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Know Your Parking Laws in the UK

These are the updated parking laws UK residents should be aware of and stick to at all times.
So you’ve mastered the art of parallel parking, but how savvy are you when it comes to the parking laws in the UK? If you’ve ever had the misfortune of thinking you could get away with leaving your car on double yellows while you pop into the Post Office — only to be slapped with a penalty charge notice on your windscreen a few minutes later — we feel your pain.

To avoid this happening to you again, we’ve put together this handy guide to the many complicated parking laws in the UK. That way, you can make the right call every time you’re on the hunt for an open parking space.

You could also consider a sneaky shortcut to avoiding penalties, no matter where you are in the country. We’re talking about exploring a short or long-term rental at the home of someone with parking space to rent in your location. It’s super easy to pull this off without much fuss. Stashbee offers thousands of readily available parking spaces throughout the whole year, all from reputable Hosts. But more on this later!

Do You Know These Common Parking Laws in the UK?

Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, and that’s OK. Whether you are a newly qualified driver or you can’t remember the last time you even saw a copy of the Highway Code, we’re here to help. By reading the following guide, you won’t have to book time with a driving instructor (or consultant, as some of them prefer to be called on LinkedIn these days) in order to get up to scratch.

Residential street parking laws in the UK

Aside from a few slightly obscure regulations, UK parking laws are mostly a matter of common sense. That said, there are so many signs and lines to contend with on the road, as well as a few lesser-known rules that can be hard to wrap your head around. Our goal today is to provide you with a ticket to, um… not getting a ticket.

On the topic of weird laws, and as a quick aside, did you know that it’s illegal to ask a stranger for money for a parking meter? It’s also against the law to sleep in your car when you’re tipsy! So now you know! Before you go any further, be sure that you commit to never doing either of those things. Ever.

Understanding yellow/red lines and other road markings

Yellow lines, red lines, white lines… what does it all MEAN? Here are the rules when it comes to these markings and parking:

  • Double yellow lines signify no waiting, loading, or unloading at any time. Simple as that.
  • Single yellow lines indicate that vehicles are unable to stop there between certain hours, so keep an eye out for adjacent signage with specific instructions. If you can’t see any signage, it’s best to follow the same rules as you would for a double yellow line.
  • Red lines indicate a ‘red route’, which means that stopping to park, load, or even let someone hop out of the passenger seat, is strictly prohibited. These lines are often found where stopping would cause chaos for the flow of traffic and aren’t usually a concern in residential areas… you never know. Exceptions apply to licenced taxi drivers and Blue Badge holders.
  • Solid white lines (usually found along the edges of country lanes without a pavement) are there to point out the boundaries of the road. They also indicate that parking is not permitted. However, the authorities do like to keep you on your toes, so this isn’t always the case. If you see a solid white line along the side of the pavement in a residential area, you actually can park there, as long as there is no other signage that says otherwise.
  • Yellow zig zags are often found outside schools, hospitals, and emergency services stations. They not only look cool, but also indicate a length of road where stopping or waiting is strictly prohibited.
  • Cycle lanes are becoming more and more common across the UK. The Highway Code notes that motorists must not drive or park in these areas.

Avoiding penalties from parking near a kerb

For drivers in the UK, parking near a curb at some point is unavoidable. Keep these rules in mind to avoid fines, or worse:

  • Make sure you always hug the kerb like you would your dear old Nan.
  • If you leave your vehicle parked over 50cm away from the kerb, you could face an on-the-spot fine. Careful not to scuff those alloys!
  • If you see a dropped kerb, steer clear. These gaps in the pavement allow vehicles access from the road to a driveway. They also handily allow emergency services to access private properties.

Parking near junctions, corners, or hills

So you’ve spotted a perfect car-sized gap along the kerb, with no road markings to indicate that you shouldn’t park there. But have you considered your visibility to other road users? For safety reasons, it’s illegal to park within 10m of a junction, unless road markings indicate otherwise.

You also shouldn’t park near the brow of a hill or a humpback bridge, as oncoming traffic may not see your parked car until it’s too late. The same goes for parking near a bend in the road, capisce?

Parking on a pavement law in the UK

Parking on a pavement is never a good idea, whether fully or just partially. Though common on many narrow roads in the UK, it will leave you vulnerable to a fine from the local authorities.

And don’t even get us started on the penalties for doing parking on the pavement in London. It’s against the law in the capital, and likely in the other major cities you may find yourself in too.

Additional parking laws to consider

Another consideration when you’re parking is to avoid parking bays designated for specific road users - i.e. accessible bays for Blue Badge holders, taxi bays, electric car bays, motorcyclist parking spots, and so forth. You should also make sure to check for signs that announce residential bay parking restrictions in controlled parking zones.

Read on to get a handle on these and to earn the (totally fictitious, but still wonderful) Stashbee Parking Pro seal of approval.

Parking Laws for Blue Badge Holders

Blue Badge holders deserve special consideration on the road, and that applies just as much when it comes to parking. Blue badges are assigned to people with disabilities (or other health conditions) to help them park as close as possible to their destination, and are only handed out to people who really need them, following a careful application from their local council.

Your best bet when it comes to respecting blue badge drivers is to avoid parking too close to them. Giving them space will allow them to manoeuvre in and out of their parking bay as a practical measure, and not just as a social distancing precaution we’ve all gotten used to. You should definitely - repeat, definitely - not park in spaces reserved for Blue Badge drivers either, as this is an easy way to land in hot water and make you wholly unpopular with the general public.

If you are a Blue Badge driver yourself, it’s good to know that you can park in single and double yellow lines at all times, as long as there are no other signs around telling you otherwise. In London, you can even park, load, unload or board on single and double red lines.

Parking Laws for Electric Cars

Speaking of the capital city, the recent ULEZ expansion — which came into effect on 25 October 2021 — is worth keeping in mind for parking and general driving. Aside from on Christmas day (thanks, Santa!), petrol cars, motorbikes, vans, minibuses (up to 5 tonnes) and specialist vehicles (up to 3.5 tonnes) that exceed the legal limits for pollution are now subject to a daily fee for driving in the ultra low emission zone. Gone electric? Nice one! Since they are zero-emission, these vehicles are ULEZ fee exempt!

Electric car drivers should note that they will mostly still be subject to the same parking laws as petrol drivers. Different boroughs do have different rules for parking electric cars, with some even giving discounted fees as an incentive (and a thank you) for contributing to their sustainability goals. Some London boroughs are going the extra mile already and offering free parking for electric vehicles.

The number of parking spaces specifically reserved for electric vehicles is increasing all over the country. These typically have an adjacent sign saying ‘Electric Vehicles Only’ or a “car and plug”-type icon on them. There is still no general consensus around parking fees related to charging times. There is, however, consensus around fines applying for non-electric vehicle owners parking reserved spaces for electric ones. So just don’t.

Parking at Night

There are quite a few different rules related to parking at night, but the bottom line is simple - be careful! The laws include some of the standard ones we’ve covered already, alongside a few others:

  • When parking at night, never leave your car facing against the direct flow of traffic at night, unless it is a formally recognised parking space.
  • Remember that all cars must have their parking lights illuminated when left on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or more. There is a slight exception to this for vehicles lighter than 2500kg, carriages, motorcycles or pedal cycles, all of which may be parked without lights if they are at least 10 meters away from any junction, close to the kerb and facing in the direction of traffic flow. Other vehicles and trailers should not be left on the road at night without lights, ever.
  • When it’s dark and foggy, your best bet is to avoid driving altogether. When you simply can’t, always have your parking lights or sidelights on.
  • Seen a hill that tickles your fancy for parking? By law, you should always stop close to a kerb, with your handbrake firmly applied, and in a forward gear to avoid rolling backwards.

Controlled Parking Zones

The BPA (British Parking Association) has done their work and outlined four types of parking zones in the UK. We won’t go through all of them here, but you should at least be very familiar with one type, namely Controlled Parking Zones. CPZ’s — heavily clad with signage of course — are essentially groups of roads where waiting, loading and unloading is restricted for some, or all of the time.

A single yellow line in a CPZ means absolutely no waiting during the time of operation, which will be detailed on one of the signs. Double yellow lines in CPZ zones don’t allow waiting at any time, even if there are no signs telling you so.

The same goes for school entrances within these zones. Drop your kids off on a double yellow line at your own peril! Stick to the bays specifically designated for this, unless your child is in that “I don’t want to be seen with my parents” phase, in which case you should always let them out of the car a few blocks away from their destination.

With all the UK parking laws we’ve explained in this guide, you’re hopefully going to avoid parking fines, a wheel clamp or being towed away wherever you happen to find yourself on a given day.

For extra peace of mind, you could of course just turn to a Stashbee parking bay rental instead. We offer a cost-effective way to leave your car in a guaranteed spot, where you won’t be subjected to dealing with the authorities, whether you’re just heading off to work, running an errand, or you’re on holiday somewhere new.

You could even go as far as whittling down the listings in your area to bays with additional security (we’re talking CCTV, gates, alarms, special lighting and more) so you don’t have to stress about having to deal with your insurance agent either.


13th Jan 2021

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