New Home Office passport check rules – which come into effect in just three weeks – could lead to hundreds of families being stuck in five-mile queues before being able to cross the channel this summer, ferry operators warn.

These new border checks, which come into force on April 8 – the Wednesday after Easter – could dramatically increase the length of queues outside ferry terminals as, for the first time in 20 years, every person leaving the UK will have their passport checked. The increased level of security has led opponents to say that families waiting to catch ferries to France could be left to “fry in their cars” in the queues, reports The Telegraph.

Ferry operators are advising that holidaymakers could be held on the A20, blocking roads between Folkestone and Dover as staff may be unable to process family cars quickly enough at passport control – with the new checks expected to double the length of time needed to check a car carrying four occupants. Dover is expected to see particular problems as it handles 60 per cent of the UK’s ferry traffic to the Continent.

The Home Office is “working with ports and carriers to minimise disruption for legitimate passengers.”

Following concerns over the threat of gridlock, families are urged to stock up on useful essentials before heading for the ferry or train this summer – including plenty of food and water – along with snacks and games to make any delay as comfortable as possible. Families should also check the state of their car before heading abroad to reduce the risk of overheating in hot temperatures or breaking down altogether.

The Home Office has stated that it is “working with ports and carriers to ensure provision of effective exit data while minimising disruption for legitimate passengers as they pass through our ports and limiting the impact on businesses such as port and ferry companies.”

Queues are predicted to be worst during the May bank holidays, and every Friday and Saturday through July and August. Similar checks are being introduced to the Channel Tunnel and other ferry ports from April 8 too.

Picture: Claude Wangen

Chris Lloyd


March 16, 2015