I was at Gatwick to collect a friend. I got confused by the road signs, and drove through the dropoff area by mistake.

I drove straight through, came round again, and then parked in short-stay, which I paid for.

The road signs tell you to visit dropoff.gatwickairport.com and I expected there to be some instruction or guidance which makes it explicit what you're paying for, how it all works, and whether you can expect to get stung just for driving through that lane, if you didn't drop anybody off.

Sadly, this link invites you to pay or login, and nothing else.

Can anybody help enlighten me?

Update, almost 2 months after original post:

  • No ticket has arrived through the post yet =D
  • 8
    Gatwick airport is a portal to an alternate universe where every day is a bad-hair day and the road signs are deliberately designed to make you wish you were somewhere else. You are lucky that you got out alive, so £5 is cheap at the price. If they are trying to scam you for a late-payment fee, then you should try to contest it; otherwise, in your place, I would grit my teeth and pay up.
    – TonyK
    Mar 16, 2022 at 21:24
  • 1
    In your link there is a button name “post pay” that will ask for you license plate. Try that and get back to me.
    – vasin1987
    Mar 19, 2022 at 17:56
  • @vasin1987 I like your thinking. I saw this after I posted. It says, "Sorry we have been unable to identify your vehicle, please click ‘Register Drop Off’ to complete your details and pay." So I'm taking a gamble - maybe I drove in and out again quickly enough that it didn't register? Or because I didn';t pull-over? In other words, maybe the system is intelligent enough to know I didn't drop anybody off?
    – Stewart
    Mar 20, 2022 at 17:46
  • 1
    Same thing happened to me as I was trying to leave the long stay parking and find the M23 north. It was dark and I didn't want to take the wrong motorway turn off but ended up driving through the drop off zone. Eventually got through to ncp on the phone (not easy) whose advice was to pay the £15 goodwill charge or contest the penalty notice when it arrives. This is just unacceptable.
    – Pam
    May 4, 2022 at 10:14
  • @Pam My advice, if you really were just driving through, was don't pay, and wait for the ticket
    – Stewart
    May 4, 2022 at 22:20

1 Answer 1


You need to pay for the dropoff lane, it works by LPS (License Plate Scanning) and you need to pay it online. I don't see any exception for non-stop passage though (might be worth contacting Gatwick though).

According to this article :

It's 5GBP at minimum for 10min, and 1GBP/min after that with the max being 20min additional

You will need to pay on the day you pass through or the following day (before midnight) to not get the 100GBP charge (reduced to 60GBP if you pay that charge in 14days time)

  • 3
    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I wouldn't really call the signs at Gatwick clear that driving through the zone would cause a charge; it is not signed as a toll road (or perhaps I didn't notice the signs), just a pound sign with Drop Off Zone. Not to mention a 5 GBP charge for using drop off zone, for revenue generation purposes only, was already a bit controversial. Of course, it makes sense in retrospect that automatic systems can't really distinguish different cases; but I would be a bit upset or rather annoyed if it happened to me.
    – xngtng
    Mar 16, 2022 at 12:18
  • 4
    @xngtng I've never been there, but looking at Google Maps, I see at least four signs warning about the dropoff charge before you drive into the area, the last sign reading 'to avoid drop off charge: keep right, follow signs for exit' and even after that sign, there are two large £-symbols painted on the lane leading into the drop off zone before the road splits and you could take the exit avoiding the charge. In this case it sounds to me as if OP expects to be freed from the charge just because he didn't follow the signs and didn't use the drop off area for a drop off. Mar 16, 2022 at 13:17
  • 11
    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Because I didn't drop anybody off. I'm trying to pay attention to the road signs, trying to use the correct lane, making decisions before running out of road. I actually have an oversize vehicle, and Gatwick's website had said there is a parking place on the left side for oversize, but the left lane takes you into drop-off zone. They meant on the left, AFTER you have turned right into the short-stay area. I do most humbly beg your supreme mercy that I experienced the emotion of disappointment that there is no easy way to contest my existence as a cog in the NCP machine.
    – Stewart
    Mar 16, 2022 at 18:40
  • 1
    This individual did much the same. Calling the company resulted in a reduction (due to goodwill) but not a cancellation of the total charge; pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=10&t=1964941
    – Valorum
    Mar 16, 2022 at 19:17
  • 4
    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo If that's how it's worded then that could easily be confusing. I.e. does "on the left hand side" refer to within the car park, or where the car park is located? Especially since earlier in the sentence seems to indicate that it is not within the car park area - it's "after the entrances to..." Mar 16, 2022 at 20:33

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