Car parking FAQs

Car park sign and four walkers, Seatoller, Cumbria

Recently you may have noticed some changes when parking at our pay-and display car parks. Found mainly at our coast and countryside places, we're continuing to upgrade the car park pay-and-display machines to allow our members to scan their membership card for a free parking ticket.

Car park pay-and-display: supporter scanning

The great thing about this is that every time you scan your card, the place you are visiting will get an allocation of National Trust funds, which will be used to maintain and improve facilities and footpaths.

You should always carry your membership card with you when visiting our places for your free entry and parking benefits.

New members who joined online will receive an email with a temporary membership card attached within 15 minutes of joining. Instructions on how to use the temporary membership card, including how to get free parking, are included.  

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions; please have a look and if you have any further questions, let us know as we will be updating these as the project progresses.

Frequently asked questions:

Does my membership include free parking?

Apart from junior members, all memberships include free parking at National Trust car parks.

Why has scanning of membership cards at pay-and-display sites been introduced?

Currently we have no way of monitoring the overall use of the majority of our coast and countryside car parks as we only have a record of the number of visitors who pay for parking. Scanning of membership cards for your free parking will enable us to understand just how many people are using our car parks and when.

This will help us better support conservation needs at the places you are visiting through providing additional funding from your membership fees back to the property for each member visit. Remember, scanning each time will help fund the specific place you are visiting so that we can provide better facilities on site. We’ll also be able to better understand pressures on our car parks, which will enable us to provide better facilities on site.

How do I scan my card for a free parking ticket?

Follow these steps:

  • When visiting a National Trust pay-and-display car park, please take your membership card to the machine.
  • As many of the machines are solar powered, you may need to press any button to 'wake' the machine up.
  • Press the yellow highlighted button (indicated as the Member button on screen) and hold the QR code of your membership card flat against the scanning window on the left.
  • The machine should beep to register the scan; your ticket will be with you in a couple of seconds.
  • Please place the ticket in your car windscreen. 

Tip: Having your card to hand when pressing the member button will prevent the machine timing out whilst you try to locate the card. If the machine does time out, just start again by pressing any button to 'wake' the machine.

I recently joined online, how do I get free parking?

You will receive an email with your temporary membership card attached within 15 minutes of joining online. Instructions on how to get free parking are included. 

Some temporary membership cards will include a barcode; this works in the same way as the barcode on your membership card will. Scan the barcode at our pay-and-display machines and then place the ticket in your windscreen. You will need to start using your membership card when it arrives. 

Other temporary membership cards will not include a barcode; a temporary parking pass will be included with your temporary membership card – display this in your vehicle at our car parks until your membership card arrives. 

What if the pay-and-display machine isn’t working?

Staff are often on hand in our car parks to help visitors. If the car park machine isn't working or is out of order, please see if there is someone available to help you. If not, where possible please leave a note in your windscreen with your arrival time and member number which can be found on your card (if you are a member).

The scanner doesn’t seem to be working – why not?

We are in the process of activating the scanners in our pay-and-display machines so, whilst the majority of machines have a scanner these are not yet working in all machines. The signs at the machine should indicate if the scanner is inactive. If you have any concerns, please see a member of staff, if available.

Why won’t my card scan?

We’re aware of a print issue with a small batch of our membership cards, which means that the QR/barcode is not reading correctly (both at our visit tills and in our pay-and-display machines). We are unable to identify which members have been affected in order to replace the card. If you find that you are not able to scan at more than one site, please do get in contact for a replacement card via My National Trust.

Will members be fined if they do not have their membership cards?

No. At some of our pay-to-enter properties we are able to check your membership on our system and can allow entry without your card. However, at smaller properties where we are unable to check your membership, you may be asked to pay the entry fee, which you can reclaim (minus an admin charge) from our membership department. If you do not have your card to scan for free parking you may receive a compliance notice if you do not pay for a ticket - this will not incur a fine.

Getting to and from the machine is difficult for me. What are you doing to help?

If you have mobility issues and you are a Blue Badge holder, remember that you're able to park for free in our pay-and-display car parks as long as you display your badge – there is no need to scan. Though if you are with someone who can scan on your behalf, remember that the property will benefit from your visit. 

Will the car stickers be phased out?

The National Trust has produced a car 'badge' of some sort for 70 years and we know that many members love displaying their car sticker, so the National Trust is not looking to phase this out. You will see a car sticker as before in your latest Handbook, though we will be phasing out this as an indicator for free parking – so remember to scan your card.

I’m a life member and I don’t have a scannable card. How do I access free parking?

All new life membership cards are scannable at our pay to enter properties and at our Pay and Display car parks. During 2017 we contacted all life members who we have a valid email or postal address for and replaced the old style cards with a new scannable version. If you have not received a new card it may be that we don't have a valid contact address for you. Please contact our membership department.

What does the asterisk mean on my membership card?

The asterisk indicates who makes payment for the membership or who was listed first on the membership application. This helps our staff and volunteers if members choose to renew or make any changes to their membership while at a property.

What personal details are held in the car park machine and can I be identified?

The data held by each car park pay-and-display machine to verify the membership card is a single unique encrypted code per member. No personal information on any supporter is held in the car park machines and no member can be identified from their scan except by the National Trust.

How will the data that is gathered from membership scanning be used?

The data we gather from this will be used in a variety of different ways. It will be used to allocate National Trust funds accurately to the places you visit to help them maintain facilities and footpaths, as well as enable us to manage our car parks more effectively.

We use summary data for analysis to understand which types of members are visiting which sites and when, to ensure we can provide the right facilities and information, as well as gain some understanding of average drive times people are making to our places.

And, as with membership card scans at properties, when you have given us permission we’ll use the data collected to offer you a more personalised experience of the National Trust through more tailored communications, and it will make us more efficient so even more of your money will go towards caring for the places you enjoy. In some instances, it will also help us plan how to get the on-site offer right for you.

For more information see our privacy policy.

Visitors walking out of the car park at Heddon Valley, Devon

How scanning your membership card helps the places you love 

Scanning your membership card at our car parks helps unlock funds for the places you care about.

Staff and volunteers standing outside at Basildon Park, Berkshire.

How to contact us 

For any enquiries about your membership or about the organisation, please contact us. Phone: 0344 800 1895 (local call rates apply). Or send us a letter: The National Trust, PO Box 574, Manvers, Rotherham, S63 3FH. Email: