We all know how frustrating trying to find a parking space can be, and when tempers flare, you might be tempted to bend the rules a little. But instead of doing something you could regret, knowing the ins and outs of UK parking laws ahead of time is a much wiser decision.

In this extensive guide, we'll take a closer look at where you can and can't park and highlight the fines and penalties for breaking the rules in forbidden areas.

Where can and can't you park?

Double yellow lines

Whether they're painted on the road or the kerb, a double yellow line means parking and waiting are not permitted at any time. However, in some cases, there might be seasonal restrictions, so keep an eye out for roadside signs if so.

Loading and unloading may be permitted if you can be seen doing so continuously. However, signage or yellow "kerb dashes" indicate there are specific restrictions, so be on the lookout if you're planning on loading and unloading on double yellows.

Blue Badge holders can park on single or double yellow lines for a maximum of three hours as long as there is no signage that says otherwise, it's safe to do so, and won't cause obstructions for other drivers.

Red Route stopping controls

Ever noticed red lines used instead of yellow lines in the nation's capital?

In London, double and single red lines are used on Red Routes and indicate that stopping to park, load, unload or to board and alight from a vehicle is prohibited, apart from for licensed taxis and Blue Badge holders.

Single red line restrictions will be shown on nearby signs, but a double red line means no stopping at any time.

On certain Red Routes, you may stop to park, load or unload in marked boxes at specific times and for certain purposes, as governed by nearby signs. For example, a Red Route might let you park between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm for one hour, with no return within two hours.


A red cross over a blue background, also known as a clearway, means no stopping at any time, even if it's just to pick up or drop off passengers.

And if that wasn't clear enough, you might also see the sign used in conjunction with the words "no stopping".

There'll also be a sign at the start of the clearway with a note about its length ("for 5 miles"), but you won't find any special road markings on a clearway. There should, however, be smaller, repeated signs at one-mile intervals.

Loading bays

Marked by a dotted white line surrounding the area and the words 'Loading Only' painted on the road, loading bays might be reserved for use by goods lorries or may be used by all vehicles, such as outside shops where heavy purchases have to be carried to a car.

If you are using them for this reason, then they should only be used for the collection of pre-paid items – never before purchasing goods.

Parking reserved for vehicles named

Parking reserved for a specific type of vehicle or user, whether it's a doctor, ambulance, or disabled driver, will be marked by a dotted line and the name of the user painted on the road.

Yellow zigzag lines

Found outside schools, hospitals and fire, police or ambulance stations, yellow zig-zag lines indicate the length of road where stopping or waiting is strictly prohibited.

The Highway Code states that you must keep these areas clear of parked vehicles, even if you're picking up or dropping off children.

You might sometimes see an upright sign with a zigzag on it indicating a mandatory prohibition of stopping during the times shown too.

Note: Yellow zigzags need an accompanying sign to be legally enforceable.

White zigzag lines

White zigzag lines marking the approaches and exits to and from pedestrian crossings mean that drivers must not park or overtake in this area. Doing so would block the view for both pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

Unlike yellow zigzag lines, white zigzags are enforced by local authorities and the police. They do not require a sign to be enforceable.

Parking outside someone's house

As rude as it may seem, it's perfectly legal to park outside someone's house – unless the vehicle is blocking a drive or a wheel is over a dropped kerb.

Of course, if any of the previous restrictions outlined above apply to the roads outside people's houses, then you can't park outside them.

Parking on the pavement

Unless permitted, you must not park on the pavement (either partially or wholly) in London, as per the Highway Code.

Doing so obstructs pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, those with visual impairments and people with prams and pushchairs.

If parking on the pavement is permitted, it will be marked by a blue and white sign.

Parking on the road

When it comes to parking on the road, the Highway Code states the following:

Do not park facing against the traffic flow

Stop as close as possible to the roadside

Do not park too close to a vehicle displaying a Blue Badge

The engine, headlights and fog lights must be switched off

The handbrake must be applied before leaving the car

You must look out for other road users when opening your door

Passengers should exit the vehicle on the kerbside

Valuables should be out of sight and your car should be locked

Hazard warning lights must be used on a road or layby on motorways with a speed limit higher than 30mph.

Your vehicle's handbook should be able to help out, but generally, they're engaged by clicking the indicator stalk either left or right as you leave the car. However, some models have dedicated hazard light buttons.

The different types of parking zones

Outlined by the British Parking Association, there are four types of parking zones in the UK:

Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ)

In such zones, waiting and loading is restricted for some or all of the time. Be sure to check local authority websites for details of CPZs operating in their area, as well as details of permit eligibility and how to obtain one.

Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ)

Waiting and loading restrictions might be applied in RPZs, even though yellow lines are absent. The times of operation will be stated on signs upon entry and within the zone.

Permit Parking Areas (PRA)

In PRAs, you must have a stated type of permit to park during its hours of operation. Note: you must display the permit even when no parking bays or road markings are visible.

Pedestrian Zone

Areas that you must not enter during operational hours. Even outside these times, there may be loading and waiting restrictions – these are stated on the bottom panel of the zone signs.

Places you cannot park at all

As well as the above, the Highway Code states you must not stop or park in the following locations, except when forced by stationary traffic:

Anywhere preventing access for emergency vehicles

At bus stops, tram stops or taxi ranks

On the approach to a level crossing

Opposite or within 32 feet of a junction, except in an authorised parking bay

Near the brow of a hill or humpback bridge

Opposite a traffic island or another parked vehicle

Anywhere that forces another vehicle to enter a tram lane

On a bend

Anywhere obstructing a cycle lane

Cycle tracks

Pedestrian crossings

On the carriageway or the hard shoulder of a motorway (except in emergencies)

Taxi bays

A road marked with a central double white line, even if a broken white line is on your side of the road (except for dropping off, picking up, loading or unloading)

What are the fines and penalties for illegal parking?

The Traffic Management Act 2004 allows local authorities to control parking enforcement on yellow lines, residential parking, public car parks and on-street parking.

If you're found to be in violation of any of the rules mentioned above, you may be looking at either a £50 or £70 fine, depending on the seriousness of the offence. Payment within 14 days will be halved by 50%, but drivers who persistently ignore PCNs risk having their vehicle clamped and towed away. At this point, the charges go up.

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