Port of Dover installs more border control booths in attempt to reduce delays
The Port of Dover is expanding border capacity to avoid queues, as traveller numbers rise to pre-pandemic levels.
A deal has been struck with the French border force to man 50% extra passport booths, which are being installed before the summer getaway weekend of 22-24 July.
It comes after there were waits of up to four hours at French passport control, as traveller had enhanced checks to enter the European Union (EU).
However, there is a potential for major delays from next Spring when new EU rules come into force requiring passengers to undergo biometric checks.
Doug Bannister, Chief Executive, Port of Dover said: "Since the UK left the EU, we are subject to full passport checks. Before, all of our freight traffic would go through in about zero seconds and now it's 60 seconds to maybe up to 90 seconds per truck. All of that adds up.
"What we have done, as the Port of Dover, is install new infrastructure and put in new operational processes to make certain that the traffic can flow through as best as it can with the new control regimes that are in place.
"Now, we are reliant on other players to do their part to staff the booths.
"Well, we have had lots of good dialogue and we work well with French immigration police and they certainly have high attention on our operation down here. Ultimately, it comes down to their resourcing levels and we know resourcing around Europe and the world is tight these days.
"The European Entry Exit System (EES), the way it's currently thought through is that it will work well in an airport, but as of now, there is no technology, no process and nothing designed for vehicular traffic in a busy ferry terminal.
"This is something that is concerning us because if we don't get that right, everything will stop."
The Port of Dover is recommending the following to all passengers, who are being are advised to expect average wait times of around 60-90 minutes for French border controls during peak periods.
Confirm ticket availability or book tickets prior to travelling to the port
Before setting off, visit your ferry operator's website for updates
Allow plenty of time for your journey, and arrive only for your allotted sailing
Bring adequate supplies, including food and water, in case of delays
Travel via main routes only, to avoid causing traffic delays for yourself and local residents
Have your documents ready to show at French border controls and check-in booths
In a statement, a Government spokesperson said: "We understand the concerns of the sector and we are working with port authorities, operators and the French Government to ensure there is minimal disruption, particularly where checks are conducted by French officers prior to departure as is the case at Dover."