Parking laws explained

Millions of parking tickets are issued by traffic wardens around the country, every year, raking in hundreds of millions of pounds.

Many of these tickets are issued to drivers who think they should be the exception to the rule – while many are oblivious to the rules.

In some cases, wardens issue tickets that they really shouldn’t, so just because you get a parking ticket, don’t assume that you have to cough up – you can appeal against it, as you can read in our guide – also check out our guide to parking myths.

It doesn’t help that in the UK there's a bewildering range of signage that dictates where we can and can’t park. Here’s how to work out whether or not you’re safe.

Where you can’t park

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Double yellow line

No parking at any time of day


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Single yellow line

Restricted parking during certain times of day: check the accompanying sign.

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Yellow lines with double kerb 'blip'

In addition to parking restriction, loading isn't permitted.

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Yellow lines with single kerb 'blip'

In addition to any parking restrictions, loading isn't permitted between times indicated by sign.

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Double white line

No parking at any time, except to drop off passengers.

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Double red lines

No parking, loading or boarding at any time.


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Single red lines

No parking, loading or boarding during times indicated by sign.

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No parking in the clearway zone between the times indicated.

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Cycle lane

No parking at any time.


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Motorway hard shoulder

Emergency parking only.

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No parking during period of operation.

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Pedestrian crossings or zig-zags on the approach

No parking at any time.

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Blue Badge bays

No parking without a valid Blue Badge.


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Access routes for emergency vehicles and yellow zigzags at school entrances

No parking at any time.

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Dropped kerbs, across pavements or on verges

No parking at any time (though the illegality of any of these may depend on the local authority).

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Privately owned land without signage

Assume that it’s not legal to park.


Parking on the pavement

Parking on the pavement – even if you’ve got just two wheels on there – contravenes the Highway Code. Section 244 specifically prohibits pavement parking in London, but essentially suggests a blanket ban 'unless signs permit it'.

Enforcement of this section of the code varies from council to council; the Highway Code is a guide rather than a road traffic law reference.

So use your common sense and be considerate; parking on pavements in areas with high pedestrian traffic is especially problematic as you're then forcing pedestrians onto busy roads.

Parking in front of a driveway

Similar to the above, the Highway Code describes parking in front of a dropped kerb used for a driveway as a violation.

Legally, the Highway Code doesn't necessarily carry any weight, but under The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, section 103, you may be towed or fined for causing an obstruction.

Blue Badges

In the UK, the Blue Badge scheme allows people with severe walking disabilities, the registered blind and those with severe upper body disabilities, to park more freely through usually restricted zones.

To find out more about the Blue Badge scheme, check out the official website ( In the meantime, Blue Badge holders can park: 

  • On single and double yellow lines for up to three hours

  • For free at council-owned pay and display car parks

  • Indefinitely on a dotted yellow line

  • In Blue Badge bays


Because the Blue Badge applies to the holder rather than their vehicle, the badge must be displayed at all times, but it can’t be used by carers if the holder isn’t present.

Parking zones and permits

To make cash from urban car owners, many local authorities have created controlled parking zones (CPZs), which force residents, visitors and local businesses to apply for permits.

These permits allow parking in bays within the applicable zone; anyone who hasn’t coughed up for a pass will be fined if they’re caught out.

* This article was brought to you in association with Nationwide Vehicle Contracts.