Discovering that your car has been seized can be stressful and confusing. However, knowing the necessary steps to take can make this process significantly easier, so here is a comprehensive checklist for UK motorists whose cars have been impounded.
The first step is to confirm that your car has indeed been impounded. You may be notified by the police or local council, or you may discover the car missing and suspect it's been impounded. In such cases, contact your local police station or council to confirm. Provide your vehicle's registration number for them to track it's location.
Understanding why your car was impounded will guide your subsequent actions. Common reasons include parking violations, unpaid fines, or driving without valid tax, MOT, or insurance. The impounding authority should provide you with this information.
Time is of the essence when dealing with an impounded car. The longer your vehicle remains in the impound lot, the higher the storage fees will accumulate. Furthermore, if you fail to collect your car within a specified timeframe (often 7 to 14 days), it may be sold or even destroyed to recover costs.
If you believe that your vehicle was wrongfully impounded, it might be prudent to seek legal advice; a solicitor can help you understand your rights and may be able to assist you in contesting the impoundment.
There will be a charge for the impounding and storage of your vehicle. These fees must be paid before your car can be released. Confirm these costs as soon as possible, as storage fees may increase for each day your car is held.
Before your car can be released, you'll need to present specific documents to prove your identity, and that you're the owner of the vehicle. These typically include:
You'll need a valid insurance policy to recover your car. If your existing insurance doesn't cover impounded vehicles, you'll need to arrange for temporary impounded car insurance. Note that not all insurance providers offer this type of cover, and you may need to approach a specialist insurer.
If your car was impounded owing to unpaid fines or charges, these must be paid before your vehicle can be released. This could include parking fines, congestion charges, or penalties for driving without tax or MOT.
Once you've arranged insurance and settled any fines or charges, you can pay the impound fees. This typically includes a release fee plus a daily storage fee. Check whether the impound lot accepts cash or card payments, or if payment should be made in advance.
Before leaving the impound lot, inspect your car thoroughly for any potential damage that might have occurred during towing or storage. If you notice any damage, report it immediately to the impound lot staff and document it with photos.
With your fees paid and paperwork in order, you can now collect your car. Ensure you have a valid driving licence and insurance in place for the drive home. If your driving licence was revoked, or you don't have insurance, you'll need to arrange for a licensed and insured driver to drive the car.
To prevent future impoundments, it's imperativel to resolve the issue that led to your car being impounded. This might involve ensuring your car is taxed and MOT'd, contesting or paying fines promptly, or always parking legally.