It is vital that you go to the police pound to claim your vehicle within seven days. If you fail to do so, then after 14 days it is likely that it will be scrapped or sold, along with any property that is in it. If you are unable to attend, perhaps because of illness or other commitments, you must contact the pound immediately to let them know.
It is normally necessary for you to claim the car in person; if you are unable to do so you could nominate someone do it on your behalf, and you can get information on how to do that here. A motor trader will not be able to collect the vehicle for you, since motor trade policies almost invariably specifically prohibit this unless the trader actually owned the vehicle at the time that it was impounded.
You should have received a Form 3708, either from the police officer who confiscated the vehicle, or by post. This gives general guidance about how to recover your vehicle and you should include it with the documentation you take with you.
You will have to produce proof that you do in fact own the vehicle. This will usually mean producing the original registration document (V5C) together with photo ID to prove your own identity, such as a passport or driving licence and two documents confirming your address. A driving licence with your address on it, and a recent utility bill should suffice but if you have the old paper licence you should take along a passport too. It would be necessary for your address to match the address on the VC5.
If you have only just bought the vehicle you would need to produce a fully completed tear-off V5C/2 (New Keeper Supplement); and a bill of sale from the previous keeper. The pound staff may wish to contact this previous keeper for confirmation of sale; if they are unable to do so they may refuse to release the vehicle. Remember, the onus is on you to prove your right to take the vehicle away.
Student ID cards or ID cards issued by an employer will not be accepted as proof of identity.
A valid and up-to-date driving licence must be produced. If you are a learner driver you will need a qualified driver, aged over 21, who has held a full licence for at least three years to accompany you. You will have to make sure that the vehicle shows L plates to front and rear. Some pounds stock these and you could buy them if necessary.
A certificate of insurance must be provided. If this is a new policy the insurance cover must be valid for the release of a vehicle which is being impounded; please be aware that most insurance policies specifically exclude this so you may well have to go to a specialist broker to obtain cover. You should also bear in mind that, if lack of insurance was the reason for the vehicle being seized, it is likely that you will be facing a charge of driving without insurance. The police may well check that you have informed the new insurer of this fact, since failing to do so could invalidate your insurance cover. So, you should go to an insurance broker who specialises in arranging cover for releasing vehicles from a pound, rather than a price comparison site which would be extremely unlikely to provide you with a suitable policy. An electronic copy of your policy on your mobile phone will normally be accepted, provided that you can show that it came directly from the insurer.
It is highly likely that conventional short term car insurance policies (those available for between one and 28 days) will not be accepted. However, it is possible to buy policies for 30 days and over which are designed to comply with the regulations. These are normally only available from specialist brokers.
There will be fees to be paid; these will be a charge for the vehicle being impounded in the first place, plus a daily storage charge. The vehicle will not be released until these have been paid. You can pay these fees by cash or credit/debit card. Cheques or American Express cards are not normally accepted.
The vehicle should have a current MOT certificate, unless it is exempt. If it needs one, but does not have one, you must make an appointment with an MOT testing station, and take the vehicle straight there after it has been released.
You will not normally be allowed to carry out any repairs, or to jumpstart the vehicle whilst it is in the pound. This is, however, often at the discretion of the staff. If they are prepared to assist you, you will probably be expected to sign an indemnity form in case the procedure damages your vehicle or causes other problems. If the vehicle cannot be started then you will need to arrange for a specialist recovery company to collect it.
Please remember that the exact process may vary slightly from one police authority to another, so there may be minor variations to take into account. If in any doubt contact the pound right away.