Travellers face six-hour delays at UK border control in Calais | Brexit

Travellers heading to the UK suffered delays of up to six hours on Saturday and Sunday as they queued at the Port of Calais.

The ferry operators DFDS and P&O Ferries apologised on Sunday morning for the long wait times at UK border controls.

P&O said that extra vessels were being used for passengers who missed their sailing, saying in statement: “We sincerely apologise for the wait times at the port of Calais today. Checked-in vehicles have been unable to reach the loading lanes due to queues at border control. This is then causing vehicles to be backed up past the check-in booths.”

DFDS told passengers: “We are expecting long wait times to complete controls, please take this into consideration when travelling to the port, factoring in sufficient breaks for food and water before arriving.”

Asked if they predicted delays to continue throughout Sunday, P&O added: “We expect the Port of Calais to be very busy … There are queues of at least two hours to clear border control. Please allow as much time as possible on your journey.”

Passengers have shared pictures on social media of long lines of cars filled with families trying to get back to Dover before the new school year starting next week.

Late on Saturday, one traveller took to Twitter to try to contact the Home Office, saying: “A 260-minute wait at the Port of Calais with two young kids. Delayed further to a 10pm ferry, why were nine UK border force lanes shut!?!”

The delays come after a summer of disruption to cross-Channel journeys for passengers leaving and returning to the UK.

As recently as last week, delays to passport checks at the Port of Calais, extra traffic arriving via the Channel tunnel, as well as the break down of a Eurotunnel train, meant that thousands of holidaymakers were left stranded for hours, many complaining of having “no water and bad toilet facilities” as they queued.

In August, one Eurotunnel incident required passengers to disembark – leaving 100 vehicles behind – and walk to a service train. Videos on social media showed holidaymakers walking through a secondary tunnel that runs alongside the 31-mile rail route between Britain and France, some with suitcases and dogs.

In July, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, blamed France for delays at the Port of Dover, citing shortages of French passport control staff, but others blamed red tape caused by Brexit.

Boris Johnson later said: ‘These are not scenes that we think are necessitated by leaving the EU,” and called for France to only conduct “sensible” checks at the border.

Guardian reporting on the delays showed that one of the key causes had been the need for British passport holders to have their passports stamped. Sources at Dover said this increased the average checking time for each car from about 58 seconds to 90 seconds.

While Brexit came into force in January 2021, the impact on tourism to the continent has only become evident as post-pandemic passenger numbers have returned to normal volumes.

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