What to do if you get a parking ticket in Germany
If you commit a parking offence in Germany, it’s usually best to pay the fine as quickly as possible. But if you disagree with the ticket, you can appeal against it – here’s how.
Breaches of parking rules are among the most common traffic violations in Germany and are issued for actions such as failing to buy a parking ticket or parking in an unauthorised way.
These can affect both drivers with their own cars and users of car sharing companies, which are especially popular in German cities.
How do you know if you've received a ticket?
If you are accused of a parking offence, you will usually find a white ticket tucked under your windscreen wipers.
The ticket that you receive here is called a Verwarnung (a caution) which is usually between €5 and €55. It is not the official penalty notice, which is more expensive as it includes administrative fees.
It’s not possible to appeal against the cautionary ticket because it is merely a warning and an “offer” of paying a lower price to avoid the full penalty amount.
So, if you know that you’re in the wrong, it’s best to just pay the warning fee immediately, and you usually have seven days to do so. Usually, the ticket has the payment details of the local authority so that you can easily make the payment via your online banking service. Make sure that you include the file or ticket number in the payment transfer details.
However, if you think you have been wrongly accused of a parking violation, it’s not possible to appeal this cautionary ticket.
In this case, you should not pay the warning fee and instead wait for the official Bußgeldbescheid (penalty notice) to arrive by post.
If you decide to go down this route, the amount due will increase, as it becomes a different category of fine. Instead of having to pay a cautionary fine (Verwarnungsgeld) you will now have to pay a penalty fine (Bußgeld) which includes the processing costs from the administrative authority which are passed on to the traffic offender as fees and expenses.
In the case of parking fines, this amounts to an additional €25 and €3.50 in postage costs.
How to appeal
If you decide to appeal against your parking ticket, then you must first wait for your penalty notice to arrive by post, which should follow within three months from the date of the offence.
You then have to send an appeal in writing to the responsible fine office within two weeks. It’s advisable to send the letter via recorded post so that you can prove that you sent the reply before the deadline.
If you miss the deadline, then you can no longer file an appeal.
You can appeal the fine yourself, and there are many templates available online (such as this one) to help you formulate your letter of appeal. Of course, the safest route is to hire a lawyer who specialises in traffic law, though this can be very costly unless you have traffic law insurance.
Bear in mind that, without concrete proof of your innocence (such as a photo), your chances of a successful appeal will be limited.
READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Germany’s tougher driving fines
The authority will then examine your letter and then decide whether or not to withdraw the fine. If they find that the objection is justified, the fine will be withdrawn. Otherwise, your documents will be forwarded to the public prosecutor's office, which may submit them to the district court.
What about car sharing?
Users of car-sharing companies should be particularly careful about committing parking offences. If you end the car rental in a way that incurs a parking violation ticket and do not collect the cautionary ticket yourself from the vehicle yourself, the car rental company will have to process your details and will charge a processing fee. These fees vary depending on the car sharing provider and can be between €5 and €20.
Parking ticket – (das) Knöllchen (colloquial)
To refute/argue against – widersprechen
Appeal - (der) Einspruch
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