Here, you can find out how to reclaim a vehicle that 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.

If your vehicle has been seized for this reason the driver should have received a seizure notice.

How to reclaim your vehicle

If your vehicle is seized, you have seven working days to go to the relevant police station with the correct documents (see below) and have your seizure form (issued at the roadside) stamped by the police.

In order to release a vehicle we need to confirm the insurance details. From 16th September 2019 we will only be able to confirm insurance details during the following times:

Monday to Friday – 08:00 to 21:00
Saturday – 09:00 to 17:00
Sunday – Closed

These times are independent of the opening times of the designated police stations that deal with the return of seized vehicles.

Surrey Police have designated certain police stations to deal with the return of seized vehicles. You must attend the nominated station marked on the seizure notice during opening hours unless you're producing a trade policy, in which case you'll be told to go to Woking Police station.

These stations are open from 8am to 10pm daily:

  • Guildford
  • Reigate
  • Staines
  • Woking

These stations, based at shared council offices, are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and closed at weekends and bank holidays:

  • Elmbridge
  • Epsom and Ewell

For operational reasons opening hours may have to be revised.

Unfortunately, people are still turned away because they don't have the right documentation (see below) or attend the wrong station. This will cause you extra delay and potentially extra cost. Please be prepared.

If after 14 days, you either haven’t reclaimed the vehicle or haven’t met the legal requirements to reclaim it, we'll dispose of it.

The correct documents you need to reclaim your vehicle

If you're the registered keeper/owner of the vehicle, you need to produce:

  1. your driving licence (suitable to drive that category of vehicle)
  2. a certificate of insurance authorising you to drive that vehicle
  3. evidence of ownership of the vehicle (log book, bill of sale, and DVLA documents related to the vehicle)

We won't accept faxed or photocopied documents.

We will accept electronic versions of documents (issued by the insurer) can be as long as we can view them on a suitable device.

Trade or open policies of insurance

If you have a trade or open policy of insurance you should bring supporting documents to show your ownership of the vehicle. In line with the Road Vehicles Licensing and Registration Regulations, this means documents that show:

  • your relationship with your employer
  • work instructions
  • records of work
  • payslips
  • if you're a motor trader you need your vehicle stock book or trading records

In particular cases, we may ask to see evidence of trading as a motor trader and/or your business accounts.

New insurance cover

If you're applying for a new insurance cover you must declare 1) seizure of your vehicle by police and 2) impending prosecution for a driving licence or insurance offence. The insurer expects you to make a full and honest disclosure so that they can assess the risk in providing insurance cover.

It may be necessary for our counter staff to clarify the extent of cover or details from your certificate with the insurer directly, so you may have to go back to the station when this enquiry can be processed.

If someone is reclaiming the vehicle on your behalf

If as the driver/registered keeper of the vehicle you can't collect the vehicle yourself, you can nominate someone to collect and it on your behalf.

The responsibilities are the same and the nominated person must produce at the police station named on the seizure notice the following documents:

  1. Their driving licence (suitable to drive that category of vehicle).
  2. A certificate of insurance authorising them to drive that vehicle (check with your insurance company first as some companies will not cover collection of a vehicle on behalf of someone else that has been lawfully seized by the police).
  3. Evidence of ownership of the vehicle (log book, bill of sale or DVLA related documents for the seized vehicle).

The nominated driver also needs to bring with them written confirmation from the registered keeper that they're authorised to collect the vehicle on behalf of the registered keeper.

If the nominated driver fails to bring any of these documents, including the seizure notice, we won't be able to release the vehicle.

Releasing the vehicle

Once the documents have been checked (against the Police National Computer, DVLA records and the Motor Insurance Bureau or insurer for validity) and the counter staff are satisfied that everything's in order, they'll stamp the seizure notice authorising the release of the vehicle.

If there are any special conditions attached to the release they'll notify the garage.

Please be aware it may take up to two hours for the necessary checks to be completed.

We won't authorise the release of a seized vehicle unless we're satisfied with the validity of the documents.

It is then your responsibility to go to the authorised garage.

Payment of charges

To release your vehicle you'll have to pay the statutory release fee for the vehicle removal direct to the authorised garage. There will also be a fee for each day that the vehicle is stored.

Please note, the daily storage charges start from midday the day after the vehicle was seized.

You can find full details about the statutory charges in the Road Traffic Act (Retention and disposal of seized vehicles) Regulations 2005 – amended 2008 – here.

Once you've paid, you can remove your vehicle from the garage.

Garages will be open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and closed at weekends and bank holidays but check with the individual garage. Also check whether opening hours change at Christmas.

Recovery operators

If you decide to have your vehicle taken away on a trailer or low-loader, the driver/registered keeper of the trailer or low-loader must attend the nominated police station with these documents (under the Road Traffic Act a towed vehicle still requires a licensed driver and insurance):

1. Their driving licence (to allow them to drive that category of vehicle).
2. A certificate of insurance relating to the recovery vehicle and business use.

As the driver/registered keeper of the seized vehicle, you must also go to the designated police station and produce the documents listed in ‘The correct documents you need to reclaim your vehicle' (see above).

Fees for the recovery and storage still apply.

Provisional driving licence holders

If you’re driving under a provisional licence you must bring someone who:

  • is over 21, and
  • has held a licence for more than three years

Make sure you have L plates on the vehicle.

Your conduct at the police station

Please be aware that the police staff who operate the police counters aren't responsible for your vehicle being seized and are carrying out a function to help you retrieve your vehicle.

Anyone abusing police staff will be subject to an investigation that may lead to an arrest and further prosecution. Please respect their role as they are there to assist you.

What does Surrey Police do with my information?

We record details regarding the seizure of your vehicle on our systems. The information is processed for the administration of justice and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and replacement legislation.

Certain information may be shared with interested partners such as our approved Joint Vehicle Recovery Scheme Managing agent, contracted recovery operators, motor insurance bureau and the insurer. This is for a policing purpose and the administration of justice.

We don't give personal information to other third party organisations. Find out more about your rights under the Data Protection Act.