One of my first memories as a London expat started on a glorious summer day in the relocation consultant's vehicle that accompanied us for the day in Marylebone area.
After some time, our guide finally found a place to park her vehicle.
She then began a manoeuvre that seemed to me to last eternally, totally absorbed as she was trying to park to the millimetre, arithmetically centred inside the available space. For any good French driver accustomed to park pretty wildly, manoeuvres seemed tedious and my guide's automotive zeal did not fail to amuse me.
Confronted with my somewhat sardonic look, she taught me quickly that “here, we did not joke with the parking regulations!”
If necessary, the price of the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN comprised between £40 and £330 and for the worst-case scenario, you will find your vehicle at the local car pound) forces you pretty quickly to respect the parking regulations.
In an attempt to summarize the situation, it should be noted that Greater London is made up of 33 Boroughs or Local Authorities, each of which has different parking rules.
Nevertheless, a common point can be found: the distinction between the places of residents and the places of visitors, equipped with parking meters, or pay and display parking spaces.
In the central districts, these two types of spaces will be signposted differently, and your vehicle will be impounded immediately if you occupy a place of residence without a permit.
Also, bear in mind if you are parked inside a visitor's parking bay, and your wheels touch the line separating two bays, you will also be potentially exposed to a fine.
Where the regulation becomes tricky to understand is for the parking bays that are both resident at certain times and visitors to others – you must look out for the sign telling when the bays are for visitors, and when they are for residents only.
The good news is the way to pay has been recently improved with the launch and phone & app cashless paying service called Ringo www.myringgo.co.uk.
Now, with no cash needed, you can register your vehicle and pay online or on the phone in almost every central London Borough.
And if you hold a resident parking permit, bear in mind it is often valid only in a very localized area (the block of your home), unless you live in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, where it is possible to park anywhere on resident’s bays.