Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Reporting abandoned vehicles

Local councils are responsible for the removal of abandoned vehicles, whether on private land or the public highway. However, the procedure for this may vary from council to council. Also, find out how you can safely and legally dispose of your vehicle when you no longer need it.

What to do if you think a vehicle has been abandoned

Report an abandoned vehicle

If a vehicle has been abandoned, report it to your council

It’s important to report abandoned vehicles to your local council as they can be dangerous and may have been used in a crime. It's not always easy to tell if a vehicle has been abandoned. Make sure that you don’t enter or touch the vehicle. If it has been involved in a crime, the vehicle will need to be investigated by the police. It may also contain hazardous waste and could be a fire risk.

Check the vehicle has been abandoned

There are a number of things that you can check to find out if the vehicle may have been abandoned before contacting the local council:

  • are any of the tyres flat or have any of the wheels been removed
  • is there litter or a lot of leaves under the vehicle – this may mean that it hasn’t moved for some time
  • is the windscreen or any of the windows broken
  • does the vehicle have number plates
  • does the vehicle contain items of waste, like tyres, old newspapers, or general rubbish
  • have any parts, like the bumper, seats or radio, been removed or damaged
  • is there any graffiti on the vehicle
  • are there wires hanging from the dashboard because the vehicle has been 'hot-wired' (driven without keys by connecting ignition wires together)

You should also check if there is a tax disc on the vehicle and whether it's past the expiry date. If possible, you should check with your neighbours or local businesses to see if anyone knows anything about the ownership of the vehicle.

Report the vehicle to your council

If you decide that the vehicle has been abandoned, you should contact the council for the area in which it has been dumped. You’ll need to provide all the information you can about the vehicle.

What the local council can do

The council will investigate whether the vehicle has been abandoned and will check to see whether it has been stolen or involved in an accident. If the vehicle has been abandoned on a road, including private roads and estates, the council will remove the vehicle. If the vehicle is on private land, the council will serve a 15 day notice of removal on the owner/occupier.

If the vehicle is of no value, the council can dispose of it immediately. If it’s considered to be of some value, the council will send a written notice of destruction to the owner. If the vehicle is unclaimed the council can dispose of it.

Tracing vehicle ownership

The council will also work with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to trace vehicle ownership and impose fines on people who have abandoned a vehicle. Some councils have also been given authority to dispose of untaxed vehicles.

The police have the power to immediately remove any vehicle that is left abandoned in breach of local traffic regulation orders. They can also remove a vehicle that is causing an obstruction or is likely to cause a danger. Councils in London also have this power.

Disposing of your car or another vehicle

It’s illegal to dump a vehicle in the street. If you want to dispose of a vehicle, contact your local council. A number of local councils operate schemes where they will take your vehicle for a fee. The council can also give you information about how to dispose of your vehicle safely and responsibly.

Under European legislation, vehicle manufacturers must provide recycling facilities free of charge. You can find the nearest recycling facility that recycles your brand of vehicle by searching online.

Was this information useful?

Thinking about what you have just read, how useful did you find the information?
Thinking about what you have just read, how useful did you find the information?
500 character limit

Why are we asking for this information?

  • We want to hear what you think about the quality and usefulness of our pages
  • Your comments will help us improve our pages
  • They will also help with the future development of Directgov
  • Telling us what you think will help make sure we give you the very best service

Access keys