Parking reminders for expats

If you’re returning to the UK after living abroad for some time, you might find yourself perplexed about where you can park your car.
Rules could have changed since you last lived here – or perhaps you get confused between the systems in your home and adopted countries?
To help you settle back into life in Blighty, we’ve compiled some quick parking guidance for expats. We can arrange expat car insurance to smooth your transition back home, too. Just talk to the team at the Insurance Factory today.
Let’s get started!


General parking rules in the UK

If you’re parking on the street, remember the following safety rules. These are all contained in the Highway Code.
  • Avoid parking your car so that it faces against the traffic flow. This makes it harder to pull out.
  • Do stop as close as you can to the kerb or roadside.
  • Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and one displaying a blue badge, whose occupant may need more room to get in and out.
  • You must switch off your engine, headlights and fog light, and apply the handbrake.
  • You must check for cyclists or other road users before you open the door, to ensure you don’t hit anyone.
Of course, you should also put your valuables out of sight or take them with you, and lock your car doors. Car insurance may include cover for theft of belongings from vehicles, but falling victim to thieves is not how you want to start your new life back in the UK!

Double yellow lines

Double yellow lines generally mean you cannot park there. This applies 24 hours a day, every day of the year, unless there are signs in place displaying the hours when restrictions apply.
There are a few exceptions, though. If you’re dropping off or picking up a passenger, you can stop briefly on double yellow lines. Commercial drivers can also stop to load and unload, though there are time limits. See below for information for disabled drivers, too. However, you need to check there are no loading restrictions in force – see below.
Ambulances, police cars and other official vehicles can park on double yellow lines if they’re on duty.
Beware: you could be in breach of regulations if part of your vehicle is overhanging double yellow lines, even if your tyres are not touching them.

Single yellow lines

These are like double yellows, but will have a time plate stating when restrictions are in force.
Even during restricted hours, you’re allowed to drop off or pick up passengers; and load or unload private or commercial vehicles, usually for 20 minutes of continuous activity. Again, look out for loading restrictions.

Single white lines

You can park on an unbroken white line running alongside the road, unless it’s there to indicate that there’s no pavement.

Loading restrictions

On the kerb, you might see short lines to indicate loading restrictions. Look for a sign nearby stating when these are in force.

Blue badge holders

People with certain disabilities can apply to their local council for a blue badge. This then entitles you to park on double or single yellow lines for up to three hours, providing no loading restrictions are in force, and you’re not causing an obstruction or danger to other road users.
You need to display your blue badge and your clock set to the time your parking session began.

Other places where parking is banned

You must not park in the following places, except in emergency situations:
  • Motorways, including slip roads and hard shoulders.
  • Pedestrian crossings, including the white zig-zags either side of themselves.
  • Clearways, which are denoted by a circular sign with a red cross on a blue background. Most dual carriageways are clearways.
  • Urban clearways, denoted by the same no parking sign, during their hours of operation. However, you might be able to stop briefly to pick up or set down passengers, unless indicated otherwise.
  • Tram lines, cycle lanes or cycle tracks, during their hours of operation.
  • Red lines and routes, which are major roads in London and a few other large cities. Signs will indicate their hours of operation.
  • Places where you would cause an obstruction.
  • Reserved parking bays for disabled drivers or motorcyclists, unless permitted.
You should also avoid parking:
  • Near a school entrance.
  • Anywhere that obstructs access for the emergency services.
  • At or near a bus, taxi or tram stop.
  • Approaching a level crossing or tramway crossings.
  • Opposite or within 10 metres of a junction, unless there’s a parking bay there.
  • Near the brow of a hill or hump bridge.
  • Opposite a traffic island..
  • Opposite a parked vehicle, if this would cause an obstruction.
  • In such a way as to force other traffic to enter a tram lane.
  • Over a dropped kerb, as these are designed to help people in wheelchairs or mobility vehicles cross roads.
  • Across the entrance to a property.
  • On a bend.
  • In a way that prevents cyclists from using cycle facilities.
The above list is not exhaustive. Really, it’s all about showing consideration for other road users.
If you’re feeling bewildered by all these rules, why not make your return to the UK a little simpler for yourself by arranging car insurance for expats through Insurance Factory?


Parking on pavements

Don’t park wholly or partly on pavements, unless signs permit it. This causes an obstruction to pedestrians, who may be forced to walk in the road to get past your vehicle.

On-street parking bays

According to the Highway Code, the best place for on-street parking is in designated bays marked out in white.
There may be restrictions, for example limiting the amount of time you can stay, or the hours of operation. This should be clearly signed.
Some are free, but for others, you’ll need to pay at ticket machines or parking meters. Fortunately, the days of rummaging around for precisely the right coins are receding: most will let you pay by card, phone, or app.


Residential parking

Increasingly, parking in urban areas is subject to restrictions, with the aim of making it easier for local residents to park.
There are four main types of residential parking:
1. Permit Parking Area (PPA): to leave your car here during hours of operation, you’ll need a permit. These are usually available to residents from your local authority. You’ll need to display the permit in your car window, so that it can be seen by traffic wardens.
2. Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ): here, parking and loading is restricted to specific times or dates. Check local authority websites to see if there are any in the area you’re planning to visit.
3. Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ): these are like a CPZ, but usually have tighter restrictions.
4. Pedestrian zones: parking is usually prohibited in these, except outside their hours of operation.
All of these should be clearly signposted, so take care not to get it wrong.

Off-street parking

After all that, you’ll be glad to know that there are off-street places to park your car with confidence!
Designated car parks might be run by local authorities or private companies. Such car parks might be free, or charge for usage. 
They could be restricted to certain users – a leisure centre may offer parking for its visitors only, or a housing development might offer residents designated parking spots.
But whatever the system, there should be clear signs informing you of what you need to do. So read them carefully before parking to avoid any misunderstandings.

Parking fines

So what if you get it wrong, and park somewhere you shouldn’t have? If you’re caught, you’ll most probably get a fine.
Penalty charge notices are issued by local authorities for parking breaches in public areas – if you overstay time limits or park in the wrong place.
Parking charge notices are issued by private companies for breaking parking restrictions on private land. For example, parking for four hours at a shopping centre where the limit is three.
Find out more about penalties, including how to challenge them, at our previous blog about parking fines.
If your parking presents a danger to other road users or pedestrians, the police could take action against you, too. Your vehicle could be towed away, and you’re likely to face a fine, admin costs, possible penalty points, and a whole heap of hassle to get your car back.

Get a quote from Insurance Factory today

Driving in the UK has changed a lot in recent years, especially in London and other major cities. If you’ve been away for a while, getting back on the roads in your home country can seem a little daunting.
At Insurance Factory, we want to make it easier for you to drive legally on the UK’s roads. The expat car insurance policies we arrange are designed specifically for those returning to the UK after living in EU or Commonwealth countries.
They can be tailored to your individual requirements, and flexible payment options are available, too.
Get a quote for expat car insurance today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.