Kelvin Reynolds, Head of Public Affairs and Policy at the British Parking Association (BPA) says there is a difference between ‘grace’ periods and ‘observation’ periods in parking and that good practice allows for this.

“An observation period is the time when an enforcement officer should be able to determine what the motorist intends to do once in the car park.  The BPA’s guidance specifically says that there must be sufficient time for the motorist to park their car, observe the signs, decide whether they want to comply with the operator’s conditions and either drive away or pay for a ticket,” he explains.

“No time limit is specified.  This is because it might take one person five minutes, but another person 10 minutes depending on various factors, not limited to disability.”

The BPA’s guidance defines the ‘grace period’ as the time allowed after permitted or paid-for parking has expired but before any kind of enforcement takes place.

Kelvin continues: “In the instance of a PCN being issued while a ticket is being purchased, the operator has clearly not given the motorist sufficient time to read the signs and comply as per the operator’s own rules.  If a motorist decides they do not want to comply and leaves the car park, then a reasonable period of time should be provided also.”

The BPA’s Approved Operator’s Code of Practice can be found at:

BPA Master Plan for Parking

Visit the BPA Media Hub or contact the Policy and Public Affairs Team direct:

Email: Tel: 01444 447 316             

Notes to Editor

The British Parking Association (BPA), founded in 1970, is the largest independent professional association in Europe, representing 710 member organisations in the parking and traffic management profession. Members range from technology manufacturers and car park operators to local authorities and theme parks.  

The BPA is dedicated to promoting and representing knowledge and standards in every type of parking facility, both on-street and off-street, and to bringing together the interests of Government, local authorities and commercial organisations, providing a forum for the exchange of information and ideas concerning parking.