Here, you can find out how to reclaim a vehicle that has been seized under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This means an officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was uninsured or was not driving in accordance with their driving licence.

If your vehicle has been seized for this reason the driver should have received a seizure notice. If the driver of the vehicle isn't the owner, then the registered owner/keeper will also have received a similar notice by post.

If your vehicle has been impounded for another reason, go to our impounded vehicles page.

How to reclaim your vehicle

You must go to a police station within the force area where your vehicle was seized within seven working days of receiving the seizure notice to reclaim your vehicle.

The vehicle must be reclaimed by the registered keeper or owner of the vehicle.

If the claimant is the registered keeper of the vehicle, they can make the claim at any police station in the force area where the notice was issued that's open to the public: for example, notices issued in Hampshire must be produced at a Hampshire police station, those issued in Thames Valley must be presented at a Thames Valley police station.

Once you’ve produced the correct documents (which are listed below), we’ll give you a release notice explaining what has to be done next.

We’ll automatically notify the pound of the release together with details of the person to whom the vehicle can be released.

Take the release notice to the vehicle pound named on the notice. The pound won’t release the vehicle unless you produce this document.

Before release, you’ll have to show pound staff photo ID. This proves that the person who went to the police station is the same person claiming the vehicle from the pound.

Pounds won’t accept seizure or release notices:

  • unless documents have been produced at a police station
  • if they're produced at a police station outside the force area in which the notice was issued

The correct documents you need to reclaim your vehicle

Proof of identity – valid photo ID, such as:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • EU national identity card
  • immigration document

We won't accept a student or employer’s ID.

Valid driving licence

Your driving licence must be either:

  • a UK photo card driving licence; if you have the old paper licence you need to bring your passport or another verifiable form of photo ID (one from the list above)
  • an EU/EEA photo card driving licence along with a passport or EU/EAA identity card
  • a non-EU/EEA driving licence together with an International Driving Permit or an official translation, plus a passport or other evidence of immigration status and date of arrival in the UK

If you've already given your licence to us we'll need evidence of this together with another type of verifiable photo ID (one from the list above).

If you've been disqualified in another EU member state or EEA country that disqualification applies in the UK too.

Valid certificate of motor insurance

You'll need to produce a valid certificate of motor insurance that permits the release of a vehicle impounded by a government authority before your vehicle will be released, even if you don’t intend to drive it on a public road.

We’ll accept:

  • electronic copies of the certificate on your mobile device
  • copies sent by fax or email, if they've come directly from your insurer

Please make sure you've declared all the relevant facts to your insurer, including:

  • correct registered keeper details
  • any motoring convictions in the last five years
  • correct address
  • correct date of birth
  • correct occupation

If you took out the policy after the vehicle was seized you must also declare relevant pending convictions, including those which may be pending in respect of the incident for which the vehicle is currently impounded. You must also tell the insurer that the vehicle has been seized and is in a police pound.

It's a serious criminal offence to fail to declare the correct material facts or to give false information when getting insurance. This can render your insurance invalid.

We may share information with your insurer or the Motor Insurers' Bureau if we suspect an offence.

Short-term insurance or temporary cover (for a period of up to 30 days) may not be valid to reclaim a seized vehicle. Please check the wording on the certificate or cover note. If in doubt, contact your insurer before you come to the pound.

If we're not satisfied that your insurance is valid for the release of an impounded vehicle, we may ask you to provide written confirmation from your insurer.

A motor trader can't release a seized vehicle on your behalf. A motor trade policy will only permit the release of a vehicle that was:

  • the property of the motor trader
  • in their custody and control at the time of seizure

Proof of ownership

  • the full vehicle registration document (V5C) in your name together with proof of address to match the registered address, or
  • an unaltered and ‘in date’ new keeper supplement (V5C/2) together with a ‘verifiable’ bill of sale and proof of name and address to match the new keeper supplement

If the V5C isn’t available, it may be possible for us to make a check with the DVLA.

In such cases, the station staff will ask for photo ID to show that the claimant is the person shown on the DVLA database as the registered keeper.

If the claimant has the V5C/2 new keeper supplement, we’ll require the completion of a V62 application for a new V5C, which we'll send to DVLA.

If the V62 is accompanied by a V5C/2, the registration process is free of charge and will be posted to DVLA by the Post Office. Without a V5C/2 there is a DVLA charge, which will be collected from you by the Post Office and sent to DVLA with the application. 

If a vehicle ‘in trade’ has been driven on the road without a valid trade licence displayed it must be registered to the owner immediately. The staff at the police station can send the relevant documents to DVLA on your behalf.

MOT

If your vehicle is over three years old and doesn't have a current MOT test pass certificate, you must:

  • only take your vehicle from the pound directly to a pre-booked MOT appointment, or
  • arrange recovery at your own expense

Vehicle excise duty (tax)

If the vehicle’s excise duty has expired, the vehicle may be seized again if it’s taken on a road.

If someone is reclaiming the vehicle on your behalf

As the registered keeper/owner you are legally responsible for the vehicle. You should attend the police station in person to prove ownership, unless:

  • you can provide evidence that you're out of the country, or
  • there are compelling medical or compassionate circumstances that stop you being able to

If after coming to the police station to establish your ownership, you nominate someone to collect the vehicle on your behalf, they must present the documents listed above, plus:

  • an authority letter – a letter signed by you authorising the third party to collect the vehicle on your behalf
  • a copy of your passport or driving licence as proof of signature

If the vehicle is being driven, they must also have a valid driving licence and a valid certificate of insurance that allows them to reclaim a seized vehicle and drive it from the pound.

The nominated driver should normally be named as an additional driver on the registered keeper's own policy. Contact your insurer before coming to the pound if you're in doubt.

Derestricted mopeds

Sometimes we seize a moped because it’s been derestricted or modified to make it too powerful for the holder of a moped licence.

We’ll return the moped to the rider’s parent or guardian, provided the moped rider is aged 16 or under.

The parent or guardian must sign an undertaking that the vehicle won’t be used on the road again, or be sold to a holder of a moped licence, until it’s been returned to a state where it complies with the legal status of a moped.

A letter explaining this procedure should be provided by the seizing officer. The moped won’t be returned to the rider alone.

Payment of charges

After you've been to the police station and the vehicle has been released, you must take the following to the pound stated on the release notice:

  • the release notice
  • photo identification from the list above
  • the means to pay the charges

Charges are collected at the pound on behalf of the Chief Officer. They aren't payable at the police station.

You can find full details about the statutory charges in the Road Traffic Act (Retention and disposal of seized vehicles) Regulations 2005 – amended 2008.

These charges are set by government, not the police, and vary depending on the weight and condition of the vehicle.

In most cases where the vehicle is not badly damaged or off the road, the charges will be:

  • two-wheeled vehicles: £150 removal charge and £10 per day storage
  • cars and light vans: £150 removal charge and £20 per day storage

Please note, the daily storage charges start from midday on the next working day after the vehicle was seized.

Pounds will be open on Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm.

Acceptable methods of payment vary but usually the following are accepted:

  • cash (British currency only)
  • Visa card
  • MasterCard
  • Maestro card
  • Solo card

Collecting property only (not the vehicle itself)

We'll only give property from the vehicle to the owner or registered keeper of the vehicle, or to the driver at the time of seizure.

We require proof of ID in all cases.

If the registered keeper or owner is collecting property, we'll require proof of ownership or a V5C. The driver’s details can normally be confirmed from the seizure notice.

If the registered keeper or owner can't come to the pound in person to collect the property, we'll require a letter of authority and proof of signature (see above).

Disclaiming a vehicle

 If you don’t want to reclaim your vehicle you don’t need to take any action. We'll dispose of it after 14 days.

If your vehicle has been issued with a PG9 prohibition notice, isn't roadworthy or won’t start

If your vehicle has been issued with a PG9 prohibition notice, isn’t roadworthy or won’t start, you need to arrange for a fully trained, equipped and insured vehicle recovery operator to collect it at your own expense.

The vehicle will only be released when the procedures outlined above have been completed, the fees paid and the vehicle returned to your custody. 

Recovery operators

If you're a recovery operator collecting a vehicle from the pound you must:

  • bring a letter of authority from the owner or keeper, as explained above, if they don't come to the pound with you
  • comply with any health and safety or other reasonable instructions issued by the pound staff

Things to be aware of

Bring a set of keys, in case the driver didn't leave the keys in the vehicle.

If the vehicle was in a collision and you’re not sure it’s roadworthy, consider having it recovered by a professional recovery operator.

We highly recommend taking your vehicle to a garage for a safety check if you’re getting it back after it’s been stolen.

The police, including all pound staff, can't advise on whether your vehicle is roadworthy.

If your vehicle doesn’t have correct number plates and you’re planning on driving it, you must attach valid replacement plates when you collect it.

Provisional driving licence holders

If you’re driving under a provisional licence you must bring someone who:

  • is over 21, and
  • has held a licence for more than three years

Make sure you have L plates on the vehicle.

Selling the vehicle after seizure

We’ll allow an owner or keeper to sell a vehicle after it’s been seized.

In these cases, the person who was the owner or the registered keeper at the time of the seizure must come to the police station with the new owner.

We'll return the vehicle to the person who owned it at the time of the seizure but will allow the new owner to drive it from the pound, provided they produce a valid licence and insurance to drive.

We'll need to know that the DVLA new-keeper procedure has been complied with.

If the vehicle is sold to a genuine motor trader:

  1. the V5C/3 motor trader’s supplement will be completed
  2. the previous keeper must send the V5C/3 to DVLA (or we’ll send it to the DVLA)

But remember that an open motor trade insurance will not permit the reclaim of an impounded vehicle. 

The new keeper will be required to register the vehicle in their own name.

We’ll notify the DVLA of the correct keeper of the vehicle if the DVLA record is inaccurate.

Further information

The instructions in a seizure notice, given to the driver when the vehicle is seized, contain further information.

The pound staff will also send the registered keeper a notice letter with the details of what's happened to their vehicle.