Travellers to Europe could face '14-hour queues' at UK port of Dover

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
Travellers to Europe could face '14-hour queues' at UK port of Dover
Tourists coming through the Port of Dover heading to France could face waits of up to 14 hours a parliamentary committee has been warned. Illustration photo: Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP

The EU's planned border system known as EES, expected to become operational in autumn, could cause queues of 14 hours or more at the British port of Dover, a parliamentary committee has been warned.


The EU’s Entry-Exit Scheme (EES), which is due to be rolled out in October will also have significant impact on the local economy in the area around the port of Dover, the UK parliament's European Scrutiny Committee has been warned.

Sir William Cash, Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, said: “Queues of more than 14 hours; vehicles backed up along major roads; businesses starved of footfall: this evidence paints an alarming picture of the possible risks surrounding the Entry-Exit System’s implementation.

"Clearly, this policy could have a very serious impact, not only for tourists and travel operators but also for local businesses. I implore decision makers on both sides of the Channel to take note of this evidence.”

READ ALSO: What affect will the EES border system have on travel to France?

The EES will register non-EU travellers who do not require a visa (those with residency permits in EU countries are not
affected) each time they cross a border in or out of the Schengen area. It will replace the old system of manual passport-stamping.

It will mean facial scans and fingerprints will have to be taken in front of border guards at the first entry into the Schengen area.

Travel bosses have repeatedly raised the alarm about the possible delays this would cause, especially at the UK-France border, which is used by 11 million passengers each year who head to countries across Europe.

The Port of Dover has already been struggling with the increased checks required since Brexit and there are fears the situation could be even worse once the EES starts to operate.

Given the possible impacts, the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee last year launched an inquiry calling for views by affected entities with deadline for replies on January 12th 2024.


Among the written responses, Ashford Borough Council said a “reasonable worst case” scenario could see 14-hour delays at the Port of Dover if the scheme is implemented as currently planned, in October 2024.

The Council said that “without useable systems” in place, there would be “considerable disruption on the Kent and Ashford economy and for local residents”.

It also said that delays at the Port of Dover “would likely see queues along the A20 and M20, which could block access to staff and tourist traffic at the Eurotunnel port in Folkestone”.

Several other organisations warned that the time taken on tourists’ first entry to the EU could increase significantly under the EES.

Eurostar said that without upgrades, terminals could see queues of more than an hour at peak times.


Getlink, which operates the Channel Tunnel, said the EES would add 5-7 minutes to the overall journey of passengers using the

High Speed 1, which operates high-speed rail services from UK stations, said that the decision not to enable online pre-registration would “put enormous pressure” on infrastructure at St. Pancras International station in London.

“Achieving an acceptable level of service on day one in all EU member states is likely to be impossible,” it said.

Without a mobile app, the scheme would need to be implemented gradually to avoid “severe disruption”.

Airlines also expressed alarm at the new system, as the requirement for travel companies to obtain the greenlight on passengers’ data 48 hours before departure would “preclude late ticket sales”.

READ ALSO: Airlines alarmed over the EU's new EES border system

The entry into operation of the EES has already been delayed several times. In October 2023 it was agreed that the EES will be rolled out in autumn 2024, after the Paris Olympics.

For a full explanation of how EES will work - click HERE.



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