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Is it illegal to park on the pavement?

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Whether it’s illegal to park on the pavement – including footways and grass verges – depends on where you are. In London and Scotland, it’s illegal, and you can receive a fine. In the rest of the UK, the rules are a bit less clear.

Below, we cover the definition of parking on the pavement, the different laws across the UK, the amount you could be fined and the potential future changes.

What is classed as parking on the pavement?

The definition of “parking on the pavement” is broader than you might assume. While having all four wheels of your car on the pavement fits the description, so does having two wheels up on the curb.

This is based on Rule 244 of the Highway Code, which uses the phrase “partially or wholly” when referring to pavement parking.

Can you park on the pavement in the UK?

The exact legality of parking on the pavement in the UK differs across London, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

London

There’s no grey area when it comes to parking on the pavement in London. Rule 244 of the Highway Code states: “You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London.” This came into force as part of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974.

There are a couple of exemptions to this rule:

  • Places where the local council has exempted the ban: certain areas may have signs indicating that footway parking is allowed. The sign will have a “P” and show a car parked either partially or wholly on the pavement
  • Loading or unloading where there are no other options: in limited circumstances where there is no way a delivery or collection of goods could be made and there is no loading ban in place, parking on the pavement is permitted

Rest of England

Technically, it’s legal to park on the pavement across the rest of England, unless the local authority has specially banned it. 

However, the second half of Rule 244 of the Highway Code states: “You should not [park on the pavement] unless signs permit it.” So even if it isn’t illegal, you’re still strongly advised not to park on the pavement. 

This is complicated by Rule 242 of the Highway Code: “You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.”

The use of “must not” instead of “should not” means that Rule 242 is enforced by law. Therefore, if a police officer decides that your car is causing an unnecessary obstruction of the road or is in a dangerous position, you could incur a fixed penalty notice.

Scotland

While the Highway Code applies in Scotland, the legal position on pavement parking differs from England. 

The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 completely banned parking on the pavement, along with double parking and parking at dropped curbs, unless exempted by local authorities. 

However, it wasn’t until December 2023 that local authorities had the power to start enforcing the law with fines. 

Wales

The Highway Code applies in Wales, meaning the rules are the same as in England (outside of London). So, while parking on the pavement isn’t illegal (unless signage says otherwise), you are advised not to. You may also incur a fine if deemed to be parking in a dangerous position or unnecessarily blocking the road. 

Northern Ireland

There’s no blanket ban on pavement parking in Northern Ireland. This is because, while Northern Ireland has its own Highway Code, it’s very similar to the one applicable to England, Scotland and Wales.

For example, Rule 244 of the Highway Code for Northern Ireland states: “DO NOT park partially or wholly on the footway or footpath unless signs permit it.”

Similarly, Rule 242 states: “You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.”

While pavement parking isn’t banned, you can be issued a parking ticket (known as a penalty charge notice) if you park on:

  • A footway where parking restrictions apply, such as a double yellow line
  • An urban clearway

What are the penalties for pavement parking?

How much you can be fined for parking on the pavement depends on the region you’re in and the exact offence in question:

Region Offence Penalty
London Wholly or partially parking on the pavement Up to £180 penalty charge notice (halved if paid within 14 days)
Rest of England Parking in a position that is dangerous or causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road Fixed penalty notice (varies by council)
Scotland Wholly or partially parking on the pavement £100 fixed penalty notice (halved if paid within 14 days)
Wales Parking in a position that is dangerous or causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road Fixed penalty notice (varies by council)
Northern Ireland Parking where restrictions apply to the road and footway (eg double yellow line) or urban clearway Up to £90 penalty charge notice (halved if paid within 14 days)

Will pavement parking laws change soon?

Following on from Scotland’s rule change in 2019, authorities across the rest of the UK are considering altering the law when it comes to parking on the pavement:

England (outside of London)

In 2020, the government ran a consultation called “Pavement parking: options for change”. This was last updated in June 2023.

The three options under discussion were:

  • Rely on improvements to the existing Traffic Regulation Order, which allows local authorities to introduce orders to manage traffic
  • Allow local authorities with Civil Parking Enforcement powers to enforce against unnecessary obstruction of the pavement as a civil, rather than criminal, matter
  • Impose a nationwide ban on pavement parking, based on the London model

The final decision is yet to be announced. 

Wales

The Welsh government had aimed to introduce legislation to tackle pavement parking by the end of 2023. This was to follow an 18-month trial on City Road in Cardiff, where drivers could be fined up to £70 for parking on the pavement. 

However, in April 2023, the nationwide review was postponed until 2024. 

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure published a paper detailing the following options for dealing with pavement parking:

  • Introduce individual street bans using the department’s existing powers
  • Introduce an outright ban on pavement parking, potentially including some exceptions
  • Introduce powers that would allow traffic attendants to enforce against vehicles causing obstructions due to being parked on the pavement

Why you shouldn’t park on the pavement

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t park on the pavement, even if it isn’t illegal:

  • Wheelchair accessibility: if you park on the pavement, even partially, you may make it more difficult for someone in a wheelchair to use that footpath
  • Visually impaired pedestrians: a visually impaired pedestrian could get into an accident if you’ve parked your car on the pavement
  • Buggies and prams: people pushing buggies and prams may not be able to safely pass your car if it’s parked on the pavement
  • Elderly pedestrians: an elderly person who has trouble walking may be put in danger if you’ve parked on the footpath
  • Infrastructure damage: pavements and footpaths aren’t designed to take the weight of heavy vehicles

Parking on the pavement FAQs

Unless you live on private land or a private road, the local rules around parking on the pavement will apply outside your home.

If you want to report someone illegally parking on the pavement, you can do so by contacting your local council.

When it comes to parking, the main factor that’ll affect your car insurance quote is where you keep your car. If you park on the pavement outside your house, that’ll be seen as more of a risk than if you park on a private driveway or in a garage and may increase the price of your premium.

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

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Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

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Editor

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She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

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