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Vehicle Recovery


Frequently asked questions


Vehicle recovery

What has happened to my vehicle?

The police can be involved with vehicle recovery for a number of reasons. If your vehicle has been recovered it could be because the vehicle has been;

  • Found after being stolen
  • Driven with no insurance or no license (Section 165A Road Traffic Act)
  • Abandoned, left unattended causing a danger or obstruction
  • Involved in a road traffic collision
  • Driven in an anti-social and careless manner
  • Used with no current road tax 

If you're unsure where your vehicle has been recovered, please call us on 101 and you will be advised which garage your vehicle has been recovered to.

If your vehicle has been recovered with police involvement, the registered keeper will always receive a letter notifying them of the seizure.  Therefore, it is imperative that persons conform to DVLA requirements by keeping vehicle ownership information up to date. If you have not received notification and you are the owner of the vehicle this may be because information has not been updated or, you are not the registered keeper with the DVLA.

Please also find help and information on;

  • Disclaiming my vehicle
  • Recovery costs
  • Contacting the VRU

Found after being stolen

What if my vehicle has been found after being stolen?

If your vehicle has been stolen you must report it to the police and provide your contact details. The police will try to contact you if it is located. Your vehicle will be recovered by the police but this will incur a recovery cost to the owner or insurance company.

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire reserve the right to have a vehicle examined by a Police vehicle examiner should the identity of a vehicle cannot be established at scene it will be recovered for an ID exam by a police examiner. We will not charge storage for any time the vehicle is retained pending an examination.

The Police will endeavour to identify forensic opportunities and carry out an examination where possible, if there is no requirement for the police to keep the vehicle they will ask for you to arrange to collect it. If your vehicle is located at the roadside, and your contact details were provided when you reported your vehicle stolen then the police will make an attempt to contact you to recover the vehicle within a 30 minute time window. If contact attempts are unsuccessful your vehicle will be recovered by the police and this will incur recovery costs. Police are unable to leave a stolen motor vehicle at the roadside at the owners request as this may leave the vehicle vulnerable to further crime. 

If your vehicle has been recovered by the police after being stolen, and it is located at one of our recovery operator’s compounds, your insurance company will want to know of its whereabouts, so they can arrange collection for the vehicle without delay.

No insurance or no valid licence

My vehicle has been seized - what do I do now?

If your vehicle 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.

When your vehicle was seized you will have been given a seizure notice by the seizing officer, in the event you have misplaced this paperwork you will need to take photo identification to the police station to prove your identity and for a replacement letter to be generated.

How do I get my vehicle back?

Your vehicle will be held at the assigned recovery agent compound for 14 working days from midnight the day of the seizure. After this time, if it is not collected, it may be scrapped or sold.

You will need the seizure notice that was given to you at the roadside to get your vehicle back. It is important that, within the above time period, you take the seizure notice with you and produce valid documents to a police station in Beds

Proof of ownership

  • Produce a valid V5C registration document or new keeper slip
  • Valid certificate of insurance (must show registration mark of vehicle being released)
  • Driving Licence (you can produce your passport alongside the paper counterpart if you do not possess a photocard driving licence)
  • Valid MOT certificate or proof of a pre-booked MOT if required 

The enquiry office at the police station will check your documents and stamp the seizure paperwork. If all is in order you can then take the stamped seizure paperwork to the recovery compound holding your vehicle. The officer will have told you where your vehicle is being held and this will also be recorded on the seizure paperwork. You will then need to pay the recovery operator the release fee and storage fee (if incurred).

Off road bikes

Any person requiring the release of their off-road vehicles will now require the following documents before the release will be authorised by the station reception officer or enquiry officer:

  • Proof of ownership (sales receipts etc.)
  • Insurance to cover their off-road use
  • Photo ID and proof of address (if this is a letter it must be dated within the last two months)

The owner can ONLY remove the seized vehicle from the garage in or on a vehicle capable of carrying the seized vehicle (i.e. trailer/van) and must pay the relevant statutory fees due.


If you are collecting an e-scooter that has been seized for no insurance then you will need to provide the following at the police station;

  • Proof of ownership for the scooter
  • Seizure paperwork

Removal by trailer/towing

Vehicles will not be released unless a full and valid driving licence and certificate of insurance are produced. You cannot bypass the legislation by stating the seized vehicle will be removed by trailer or towed when valid documents cannot be produced to cover its use on the road.

If a Prohibition Notice (PG9) has also been issued and repairs need to be completed on the vehicle before the notice can be lifted, the vehicle CAN be removed by trailer/recovery vehicle to premises where repairs will be carried out; all documents still need to be produced prior to removal and fees paid.

If someone is reclaiming the vehicle on your behalf

As the registered keeper/owner you are legally responsible for the vehicle. You must 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.

In that event you must provide;

  • 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

The person collecting the vehicle on your behalf must also have a valid driving licence and a valid certificate of insurance that allows them to reclaim a seized vehicle and drive it away from the recovery operator. These documents must also be produced at the police station.

If you cannot drive the vehicle away because you are unable to produce a driving license or insurance and you want to nominate someone to collect the vehicle on your behalf, they must present the documents listed and attend the police station and recovery operator with you as the owner of the vehicle.

Collecting property only (not the vehicle itself)

  • the recovery operator will only permit property to be obtained from the vehicle to the owner or registered keeper of the vehicle. You do not need to pay to reclaim property.
  • We require proof of ID in all cases.
  • If the registered keeper or owner is collecting property, the recovery operator will require new keeper slip or a V5C document.
  • 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).
  • You will not be able to reclaim any items that are integral to the vehicle 

Disclaiming a vehicle seized for no insurance or driving licence

  • 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.


These are statutory fees relating to vehicles seized for no insurance or no driving licence:

Statutory fees
Vehicle type Seizure charge Retention charge
Vehicle equal to or less than 3.5 tonnes MAM £150   £20 per day
Vehicle exceeding 3.5 tonnes MAM but equal to or less than 7.5 tonnes  £200  £25 per day
Vehicle exceeding 7.5 tonnes MAM but equal to or less than 18 tonnes MAM  £300  £30 per day
Vehicle exceeding 18 tonnes MAM  £350  £35 per day
Two wheeled vehicles  £150  £10 per day

If the person driving is not the registered keeper of the vehicle, then the registered keeper will receive a letter in the post. The fees will then apply from noon the following day for the date of the letter.

Abandoned or causing an obstruction or involved in a road traffic collision

If your vehicle is causing a danger, causing an obstruction, has been abandoned, or broken down on a road, the police have the power to arrange for it to be removed or require its removal by the owner. If your vehicle has been involved in a road traffic collision on a major route the police may arrange for its recovery to prevent any danger from its obstruction on the road. You will then need to advise your insurer of its location at the selected recovery agent. Statutory fees will apply. These may vary depending on the size of your vehicle and the position it was recovered from- see links below.

Driven in an anti-social and careless manner

The police can give a warning to persons who use their vehicle in an anti-social manner whilst driving carelessly.

Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 gives police the power to seize the vehicle if that use is continued after the warning. The warning can be given on different occasion to the continued use, and the seizure can still take place within a set time period.

If you have driven your vehicle in this way and your vehicle is seized, you will receive a seizure notice from the officer who stopped you. This will include instructions on how to get your vehicle back.

You need to attend the recovery agent holding your vehicle and produce;

  • Personal I.D that displays a photograph
  • V5C proof of registered keeper of the vehicle or the new keeper slip
  • Pay the charges in relation to the seizure and retention

The driver or owner has 14 days to do so or the vehicle will be sold or scrapped.

No tax - Vehicle Excise License (VEL)

Every vehicle registered in the UK must be taxed if used or kept on a public road. If you keep a vehicle off road without tax you must make a statutory off-road notification. The DVLA records will then show this vehicle as SORN(opens in new window).

If your vehicle has been seized for no tax, you must get vehicle tax first before it can be released. Follow the steps on the government website (opens in new window).

You will have between 14 days to do this after that your vehicle will be disposed of.

How do I tax it without the V5C registration document?

If you are unable to tax your vehicle because you don’t have the right documents (opens in new window) you will have to pay a surety fee (deposit), and follow these steps;

The fees are displayed below;

Release fee

Within 24 hours of the offence (release from clamp or from pound) 

  • release £100

 24 hours or more after the   offence (release from pound) 

  • release £200
  • storage £21 per day or part day at the pound

Surety fee

  • £160 for motorcycles, light passenger and light goods vehicles
  • £330 for buses, recovery, haulage, and goods vehicles
  • £700 for exceptional loads and heavy good vehicles such as a large   lorry or a bus 

You can pay by cash, card or cheque, postal order, or with a credit or debit card. In order to get your vehicle released you will need to produce the following at the vehicle recovery agent;

  • V5C- vehicle registration document
  • Proof of identification, such as a photocard driving license or passport
  • Proof of address: a recent utility bill dated in the last two months, a medical card or a bank statement

If you cannot produce a V5C you must provide documentation linking you to the vehicle, such as a bill of sale, an insurance or MOT certificate. The vehicle recovery agent will provide you with a V62 form for an application for a registration certificate.

How can I get back the surety fee?

If your vehicle is UK registered you must tax the vehicle within 15 days and contact the vehicle recovery company. After this period you will lose the fee. Declaring a vehicle SORN will not entitle you to a refund of the surety fee.

If your vehicle is currently registered outside the UK you will have to register and tax your vehicle in this country in order to reclaim your surety (See instruction below). You will have 56 days in which to do this and reclaim your surety fee. Please note the 56 days only applies vehicles that are not currently registered in the UK.

My vehicle is a foreign registered vehicle but I live in the UK?

If you live in the UK or stay for longer than six months and bring a foreign registered vehicle here, you must register the vehicle with HMRC (opens in new window) within 14 days and tax it before it is used on a road.

I don’t live in the UK?

You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in the UK if ALL of the following apply:-

  • You’re visiting and do not plan to live here
  • The vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country
  • You only use the vehicle for up to six months in total (this can be a single visit, or several shorter visits over 12 months).

If you are stopped by the police you will need to show evidence that you can use the vehicle in the UK without taxing and registering it here, for example proof of the time you’ve been in the UK, or that your vehicle’s eligible for relief from VAT and duty (such as a customs relief form). If your vehicle has been seized for no road tax, it is because the officer has reason to believe you are resident in this country and has used the devolved powers given to Police by the DVLA.  In order to continue using your vehicle in the UK you must register it with the DVLA and tax it (see guidance above).

General questions

Where has it been taken?

Depending on the location of your vehicle when it was seized it will have gone to one of our assigned recovery operators across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. If you were present when the vehicle was recovered you should have been provided with the details of the recovery agent your vehicle went to. You can contact the police on 101 quoting your vehicle registration number to get this information again if you require it.

How long do I have to get it back?

Vehicles are kept for 14 days after a recorded delivery notice letter has been sent to the owner.  

In the case of vehicles seized for no insurance or no licence the 14-day notice period will start from the day the vehicle was seized or if the driver is not the keeper, it will start from the date the keeper received the notification letter. 

Vehicles retained for police investigations

If you are told your vehicle has been recovered under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) this means it is being held as part of a police investigation. The vehicle may be kept for a longer period of time to gather evidence. Contact the police control room or the officer allocated to your crime to find out if this applies to your vehicle. Once your vehicle has been released you will be sent a notice letter advising you how long you have to recover your vehicle. You will not be charged a recovery fee, the Officer in the case (OIC) will notify you of its release however, you will receive a recorded delivered letter in the post, where the storage charges become applicable 48 hrs after the date of the letter.

No seizure paperwork?

The seizure paperwork needs to be stamped by the enquiry officer when you produce valid documents. Without this form it generates complication so keep this safe. If you do not have this form you should still attend a police station with your documents.

What else may I need to do?

Bring a spare set of keys in case your vehicle wasn’t recovered with them. Contact the recovery agent to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy before attending, or have a suitable method of recovery from the agent ready to collect it. If your vehicle was involved in a road traffic collision your insurer may want to collect it directly and will facilitate this. If your vehicle has been recovered on false plates you will need to attend with new ones before it can be driven on the road.

My vehicle was stolen is it still safe to drive?

It is your responsibility to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy. You should consider getting it checked by a professional and recovered on a trailer if you are in any doubt.

My vehicle was stolen and recovered by the police - do I have to pay for its recovery?

You will be responsible for paying for the recovery of the vehicle if it is located after being stolen. It is important that you report it as stolen as soon as possible and leave correct contact details to be reached if it is located. Failure to do this may mean we are unable to contact you about its recovery and the cost of the recovery and storage charge will be charged to you; you may wish to cross charge this to your insurance provider.

I want to collect the vehicle on a recovery vehicle can I still collect it?

You may need to evidence that you have insurance for the recovery vehicle, and a valid driving license for that class of vehicle. You will still have to follow the above steps to evidence ownership etc at the police station. However, if your vehicle was seized for having no insurance you will not be able to recover it this way.

I have property inside my vehicle that I would like back, can I get it?

You can if the vehicle is not being retained for police exams. If it is, you will need to contact the officer in the case to get authority to collect any items.

Disclaiming my vehicle

If you wish to disclaim your seized vehicle the recovery operator can dispose of your vehicle for you, you will need to contact the recovery operator holding your vehicle to make this payment;

  • £50 two-wheel vehicles
  • £70 cars up to 3.5 tonnes
  • £100 over 3.5 under 7.5 tonnes
  • £125 7.5 tonnes to 18 tonnes
  • £150 18 tonnes or over

If you don’t want to reclaim your vehicle, this is called 'disclaiming', you need to go to the garage with proof of identity and proof of ownership.

Recovery costs

The cost of recovery, and the subsequent storage charges depend on the following factors;

  • Type of recovery and any specialist equipment
  • The power used to seize and store the vehicle
  • Whether any forensic examination is required

Statutory charges apply to most vehicles removed by police, depending upon the reason for removal. This includes stolen vehicles. These charges are set by government, not the police, and vary depending on the weight and condition of the vehicle.  The link below gives more details.

Daily storage charges start from midday the day after a notice letter has been sent to the registered keeper. The link below gives more details.

Garages are generally open from 9am to 4.30pm. Ring them before heading there, in order to check that they will be open on your arrival. Some recovery agents will allow pre-arranged collections at the weekend. Again, ring to check.

Contact Us

The vehicle recovery unit for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, works from Monday to Friday during office hours.

The public can contact the department Monday to Friday between 10am and 12pm for any queries or questions on: 01707 354550, or via email at:  We aim to answer your query within two business days.

Police assigned recovery operators

Aldridge Recovery

Foxlands, Long Drive, Cottenham, Cambs CB248RL

01954 251344

Buckdale Recovery Ltd.

49 Ampthill Street, Bedford, Beds, MK42 9BT

01234 272737

CMG Rescue Services

Northbound lorry Park, Newport Pagnell Services, MK16 805

01908 613020

Connoisseur Recovery – Watford

Unit 3, Byfleet Industrial Estate, Tolpitts Lane, Watford WD18 9TS

01923 770900

Connoisseur Recovery – Hemel Hempstead

11- 12 Eastman Way, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7DU

01923 770900

Enfield Recovery

1-3 Spencer Court, Howard Roadm, St Neots, PE19 8ET

01480 210888

Frank Ratcliffe and Son Ltd.

Great North Road, Conington, PE7 3QU

01487 830253

J.S. Holmes

High Road, Wisbech St. Mary, Cambridgeshire, PE13 4RQ

01945 410243

Lantern Recovery Specialists

Bignells Corner, South Mimms Service Area, ENG 3NE

01707 644681

Manchetts Rescue and Recovery - Burwell

Broads Road, Burwell, Cambridgeshire, CB2S OBQ

01638 744528

Manchetts Rescue and Recovery - Waterbeach

Ely Road, Waterbeach, Cambs, CB2S 9PG

01638 744521

The Mansfield Group - Milton Keynes

Unit G - Crawley Crossing, Bedford Road, Bedford, MK43 OUT

01908 588772

Saunders Garage

97 Arlesey Road, Stotfold, Hitchin, Herts, SGS 4HE

01462 835587

Shaw Brothers

129 London Road, Markyate, Herts, AL3 8JR

01582 840662

Stathams Motor Engineers Ltd.

Commercial Yard, Watling Street, Dunstable, Beds, LUG 3QP

01582 843220

Stort Mill Recovery - Waltham Abbey

Stubbins Yard, Stubbins Hall Lane, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 2EE

01279 940820

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