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Port of Dover announces plans to smooth summer getaways

Dover, UK, 18 July 2023 – Ahead of the peak holiday getaway period, the Port of Dover and its operational partners are announcing their extensive plans for a smooth transit this summer.

Members that make up the Port system including the Port authority, Police Aux Frontières and Border Force, and the Port’s three ferry operators have carefully put plans in place to support the efficient workings of the Port system.

The collective operational plan for the summer holiday getaway period includes the following:

  • Working closely with coach customers and ferry operators to spread travel demand during peak times.
  • Improving flow rates for all traffic types, including cars, coaches and HGVs.
  • Reinstating the designated Coach Processing Facility on the approach to the ferry terminal to conduct the Advanced Passenger Information (API) checks and smooth movements to the Port following its success at half term.
  • Installing additional border control infrastructure to enhance coach processing capacity at the French border by 133% (from three to seven positions).
  • Utilising two available additional booths to provide the Port with up to nine lanes of car traffic for tourists, in addition to freight processing capacity.
  • Sharing hour-by-hour projections for every day of the summer getaway with operational partners, for them to plan their resources and processes.
  • Leveraging the Port’s team of Passenger Champions who will be located ahead of border controls and on hand to assist passengers during peak periods.
  • Providing additional facilities, including pet welfare, ahead of border controls, which will further supplement the existing retail and amenities available after check-in within the Passenger Services Building.

Doug Bannister, CEO, Port of Dover, says: “The Port of Dover is a hugely popular choice for families to get away to Europe for the summer holiday and we expect this year to be no different.

“We have worked hard with our partners to deliver a series of improvements to our shared operation, engaging in extensive planning for the peak period, and making continual investments that support the ferry operation and protect the local community.

“We are advising passengers not to arrive more than three hours before sailing and that, in the case of any issues with the sailing they are booked on, they will be placed on the next available sailing. When passengers arrive at the Port of Dover, they will be processed through border controls – anticipated to take around 90 minutes on peak days. However, our modelling indicates that processing times may be up to 2.5 hours during the peak hours of 6am to 1pm during the first couple of Saturdays and Sundays of the summer holidays, due to the extreme popularity of these days.

“Passengers will then progress through ferry operator check-ins and be able to access retail and amenities, before boarding their ferry to France on the shortest sea crossing, with access to plenty of entertainment and dining options, enjoying no legroom restrictions and zero wait time in the port on the other side, as they drive straight off the ship and head onwards to their destination.

“We care about every passenger that chooses to travel via the Port of Dover and have worked hard to ensure the best experience possible as they transit through on their summer holidays.”

Abby Penlington, Director of Discover Ferries, says: “The Port of Dover, its ferry operators, and border officials have been working together to plan for the busy season ahead and are looking forward to welcoming passengers departing for their well-deserved summer holidays.

“The first weekend of the school summer holidays is the most popular travel weekend of the year and while Dover will undoubtedly be very busy due to the popularity of the route, everyone will be able to get away.

“Passengers who opt to travel via ferry from Dover can benefit from greater flexibility and experience a smoother journey; driving straight out of the port on the other side without waiting for border control or baggage reclaim and, unlike flights and time-stamped train tickets, if you miss the crossing time you booked, you can often just hop on the next available ferry.”

The Port of Dover’s travel advice to passengers to ensure they have the best start to their holidays this summer is as follows:

  • Allow plenty of time for your journey, but please do not arrive more than 3 hours before your allotted sailing. If you do experience any issues, rest assured, you will be placed on the next available sailing.
  • Travel to the Ferry Terminal via main routes only, to avoid causing traffic delays for yourself and local residents.
  • Please do not turn up at the port without a booking.
  • Ensure you have sufficient food, snacks and entertainment with you to ensure the most comfortable journey for your family.
  • Have passports open and ready before border controls to ensure the quickest possible transit and reduce the waiting time for other vehicles.

For more information and summer travel advice:


A selection of full size images are available to download here for your use. 

For further press information and images

Port of Dover

T: +44 (0) 1304 240 400 Ext. 4410

M: +44 (0)7741 164 971


About Port of Dover   

The Port of Dover is the busiest international ferry port in the UK, with two million cars and 11 million passengers passing through the Port every year. Dover also processes 2.4 million trucks per year, more than all other UK ports. In total, the Port of Dover deals with £144bn of trade in goods each year, and 33% of the UK’s trade with the EU, supporting businesses across the nation.   

With a cargo business handling fresh produce, containers, project cargo, general cargo, grain and Ro-Ro traffic operating from a state-of-the-art terminal next to the world’s busiest shipping lane and on the quickest sea route to Europe, Dover is building for the future.    

In addition, Dover is the UK’s second busiest cruise port, welcoming more than 25 cruise lines and 200,000 guests each year. The port also has a marina and property business primed to benefit from a new waterfront.   

The Port of Dover holds ambitious net zero targets, placing it at the vanguard of decarbonisation within the UK ports industry. More information on the targets can be found here. The Port’s focus on sustainability is driving it forward, enabling the team to keep the Port of Dover at the heart of international trade and tourism, and contributing value as a key gateway, employer, business and community partner.