Parking Permit Systems

Understanding Parking Permits and How Parking Permit Systems Help

Parking permits are a globally used method of authorising vehicle stays at managed locations. In this article, we’ll explain what parking permit systems are and also talk about the different permit types they can manage.

Before we talk about parking permit management systems, you may be asking, what is a parking permit system? Let’s explain.
Understand Parking Permits and How Parking Permit Systems Help with ZatPark

What is a parking permit?

A parking permit is typically used to authorise a vehicle to be able to park at a specific location. Parking permits provide privileges to drivers, allowing them to park at a registered location for a permitted period. Permit time periods can range from hours to years, depending on the situation and requirements.

Who needs parking permit management?

Public service organisations like councils or hospitals use parking permits to control parking sites, for example, vehicle access to their staff car parks. Issuing short-term or long-term parking permits to staff allows them to provide staff and visitor parking at offices or hospitals with or without charge.

Local authorities typically use parking permit systems to issue permits that authorise residents to park their vehicles on the streets near their homes. Often, residents can apply for a free annual permit, but the local authority may charge a small administration fee. Their resident permit will allow them to park in on-street spaces close to their home. 

Councils and local authorities can also issue residents with visitor parking permits. Residents may be able to apply for guest permits for household visitors. The number of these allowed per household is usually limited by councils. Traditional visitor permits are paper scratchcards which can be used once per visit. When these are used up, the resident can purchase more. Parking permit management software can remove the need to issue paper-based permits by offering digital permits instead.

Local authorities can issue many types of parking permits, including:

  • Disabled parking permits
  • Resident’s parking permits – for on-street parking
  • Business parking permits – for employees of retail shops and delivery vehicles
  • Visitor parking permits – for resident parking areas
  • Carer parking permits – for carers visiting residential areas
  • Charity parking permits – for volunteer charity retail staff

A parking permit can be produced as a badge for windscreen display by disabled drivers, a paper scratchcard for residents permitting their visitors to park outside their house, a virtual or digital permit, and other formats. Parking permits are typically used at offices, retail parks, airports, leisure facilities, and on-street parking spaces.

Permits as long-stay tickets

Private organisations use parking permits slightly differently. Private parking operators may issue parking permits to residents, retail, facility or office users and treat these permits as long-stay tickets.

Permit problems: Managing your parking spaces

As a parking site operator, managing the application, issuing, and enforcement of parking permits can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Parking permits can be free or charged, and the process of applying for and paying for permits needs to be managed effectively. 

The challenges of permit management can be grouped into:

  • Parking permit applications and approval decisions
  • Permit payment processing and renewals
  • Parking permit enforcement

Each of these takes time and resources to manage.

Parking permit applications and approval

Applying for a residential parking permit is usually done by completing a paper or online form. These submissions must be checked by the permit management team for errors and returned if invalid or incomplete. The application forms will contain required questions to be answered by the applicant. These are assessed by the permit team, who authorises or declines the application.

Manual parking permit application and approval processes are lengthy and often create poor customer service. The time needed to complete the application and the potential delays in receiving a response from the permit team doesn’t provide a great customer experience.

Additionally, physical permits are difficult and expensive to change. To correct an error in an issued permit badge or certificate, a new one must be produced and delivered to the applicant, increasing the permit production and postal costs to the operator.

Parking permit payments and renewals

Even when a permit is provided by a local authority, there is often an administration charge to be taken. Taking payments for parking permits requires the operator to offer multiple payment options to applicants, which can cause the operator difficulty in managing transaction costs. The transaction fees of different payment processors can vary, making it difficult for the permit operator to control the costs of payments. Similarly, offering multiple payment options can be difficult or expensive for the operator to set up.

When it comes to renewing parking permits, the operator must keep records of permit expiry and send reminders and renewal payment requests to permit owners. All of this needs tracking and managing by the permit management team.

Learn about Zatpermit Parking Permit Management

Parking permit management and enforcement

There are ongoing administration tasks when managing parking permits. Physical permits can be lost or damaged, and permit teams have to handle requests for replacements while ensuring eligibility. Another permit management issue is ensuring ex-staff parking permits are returned when they leave the organisation. Similarly, new permits must be issued to new staff. This is particularly important if permits are not registered to specific vehicles.

Monitoring vehicles in a permit-managed area typically relies on enforcement staff checking vehicles have valid permits. If not, staff may need to issue tickets or organise vehicle removal. These tasks need the operator to employ full-time staff to patrol parking areas.

How do SaaS parking permit systems help?

Parking permit software can be delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS). When looking for parking permit management software, you should choose a cloud-first provider. Web-based permit management solutions offer the resilience of not being reliant on on-site infrastructure, scalability and a host of other benefits.

Learn about Zatpermit

Parking permit application and approval decisions

As we highlighted earlier, the permit application process is lengthy when done manually. Parking permit systems can automate multiple permit management processes.

Digital permit application questionnaires can be built easily from standard questions with score weighting rules. These rule-based questions enable automated answer scoring and application approval. A modern parking permit system can process application forms automatically and, by applying rules to the application data, can automatically approve or decline a permit application. Permit application automation minimises the number of manual interventions needed to issue permits and reduces delays in application processing. Permit automation can also provide reporting data and the ability to audit every application.

Permit payment processing and renewals

Automating the process of taking permit applications and renewal payments improves efficiency and reduces costs. Some parking permit systems integrate with a wide range of payment providers giving the operator choice of payment providers which they can choose based on the optimum transaction charges. Offering multiple payment options also improves the service operators can provide to their customers. 

Learn about Zatpermit Digital Permits

Parking permit management and enforcement

Parking permit management systems can replace traditional paper permits with digital permits. Printed scratchcard parking permits are no longer needed with a virtual permit management system.

Self-service parking permits

Some parking permit systems provide self-service portals for customers to manage their purchased permits, permit applications, and permit renewals. Self-service portals reduce resource costs and increase efficiency and customer satisfaction. Importantly, they also offer transparency. The customer can see the status of their permit application and renewal dates, they can access all of their personal information, and see why an application is approved or declined. Parking permit self-service portals reduce permit operations costs and simplify permit management.

Permit system integrations

When integrated with other parking technologies, permit management systems can automate access control and contravention enforcement. Integrated ANPR and barrier systems can be used to automate vehicle entry and exits of parking sites. 

Mobile permit management

Mobile technology can also be implemented to support permit management operations. On-foot enforcement staff can be given mobile apps with built-in number plate recognition allowing them to automatically identify permitted vehicles. Mobile apps with real-time number plate recognition can flag unauthorised vehicles and issue penalties if necessary.

Learn about Zatpermit automation

The benefits of parking permit systems

  • Improve customer service with self-service parking permit web portals.
  • Improve security when integrated with ANPR cameras enabling unauthorised vehicles to be identified and issued penalties if necessary.
  • Simplicity from configuring business rules such as vehicle inclusion/exclusion lists.
  • Enable flexible price setting by providing analysis of occupancy and usage data.
  • Reduce manual tasks by automating the permit application questionnaires and approval processes.
  • Automated permit payments by integrating multiple payment card providers and automated voice payment systems.

If you’ve had a parking permit management system for some time, you should consider looking at the latest solutions. The latest digital parking permit solutions make your life much easier by automating many of the processes that weren’t possible with older systems. Make sure you look for a system that has the flexibility to integrate with your existing back-office systems and existing printer and camera hardware. You should also check that the permit system can provide you with insight data that will enable you to make strategic decisions about your parking operations. Flexible and highly configurable parking permit systems can help future-proof your parking operations.

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See how Zatpermit can automate your parking permit management and provide your customers with 24/7 self-service

Read our case studies to see how car park management services solutions can help you

Britannia Parking

With over 25 years experience establishing and managing car parks, Britannia Parking is one of the most respected operators in the UK with a client base that includes Waitrose, The John Lewis Partnership, Liverpool Victoria, Savills and Greene King.

HX Car Park Management

HX Car Park Management Limited is the UK’s one-stop parking management company who operate nationwide and are based in West Yorkshire.

Napier Parking

Napier Parking have used technology provided by ZatPark to streamline its customer service with convenient payment and appeals options available via online web portals


NCPS core strength is to provide bespoke solutions incorporating best in breed IT systems.

North East Lincolnshire

North East Lincolnshire Council is a local authority serving 160,000 people. The Parking Service at NELC is delivered through a regeneration partnership with EQUANS Services Limited.