Car parking FAQs

Girl sitting in a car boot at Ashridge, Herts

You may have noticed some changes when parking at our pay-and-display car parks recently. Some of our car parks will need to be booked before your visit, including at some coast and countryside places.

As well as a list of which you'll need to book, here are the most frequently asked questions about parking at our places, including why it's important to scan your membership card for free parking and more.

Do I need to book to use a National Trust car park?

We have introduced a booking system to manage numbers at some of our busiest car parks:

There are also a number of other car parks which don’t need to be booked. These tend to be smaller car parks which don’t have facilities or require staff.

Some of our car parks, which specifically cater for our houses, gardens and parklands will remain closed.

We ask that you visit the property web page ahead of travelling for the latest information about what facilities are open and whether you need to book.

Why haven't you opened all your car parks at the same time?

Some of our car parks have facilities and require staff. Getting staff back from furlough to manage our car parks and facilities, and ensuring we maintain their safety, has to be carefully planned in line with government guidance. Initially we plan to start reopening some of our car parks that don’t require staff. Staffed car parks and those with facilities will take longer to reopen.

Are you charging for car parks?

Apart from junior members, all memberships include free parking at most National Trust car parks. Non-members will need to pay where there are pay machines.

Will I need to pay to book a space?

Members won’t need to pay at most of our car parks but do need to book, but non-members will pay at the point of booking their space. 

What facilities will you have open at car parks?

This will differ from place to place dependent on a number of factors. However, where we can, we will try to publish available facilities, such as toilets, on property web pages, but please be aware these can change from time to time.

How long can I park for?

The length of stay will depend on the car park you are booking. The booking form will specify how long you can park for.

Why have you started scanning membership cards at pay-and-display car parks?

Currently we have no way of monitoring the overall use of our car parks as we only have a record of the number of visitors who pay for parking. Scanning your membership card for 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'll 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. 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; in which case, 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. 

I recently joined at a National Trust place, how do I get free parking?

You'll be provided with a temporary parking pass that can be displayed on the dashboard of your car to enable you to park free. You will need to start using your membership card when it 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).

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

No. 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. We are in the process of exploring what more we can do to support accessibility at our car parks.

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. You will see a car sticker as before in your latest handbook, though this is no longer an indicator of free parking, so remember to scan your card. We are working hard to source an environmentally friendly car sticker material for 2022.

Can I request a second car sticker?

A second car sticker can be requested from our Supporter Services Centre or via My National Trust. Please note, however, that the car sticker is no longer an indicator of free parking and a membership card will need to be scanned for free parking.

I’ve noticed some cars have different car stickers to mine - why is this?

Other groups within the National Trust are eligible for free parking such as staff, volunteers and tenants. We are currently working on a solution for scannable free parking for these groups but are relying on car stickers to indicate free parking for them in the meantime.

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

All life membership cards should now be 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. In this case, please contact our membership department (see how below).

Our properties have been instructed to clip the corners of old style life membership cards on presentation (akin to a passport clipped corner) and to advise members to request new life cards from our Supporter Services Centre. In this instance, a temporary life membership form can be issued to provide free entry and free parking.

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 scanning your membership card 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, if 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. It will also make us more efficient so even more of your money goes towards caring for the places you enjoy and, 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: enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk