Freight lobby urges France-UK talks to ease port queues

Logistics UK has called on French and British governments to address congested roads leading up to ports on both sides of the Channel, which have been blamed on Brexit.

Lorries wait in Dover to cross the Channel to France.
Lorries wait in Dover to cross the Channel to France. A leading logistics company has asked the French and British governments to hold talks to resolve traffic issues. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

A leading UK freight lobby group has urged the British and French governments to hold talks to ease miles-long backups at Channel ports that have been blamed on Brexit.

Trucks have faced queues of up to six miles (10 kilometres) this month on the approach to Dover — Europe’s busiest port for roll-on, roll-off freight — with tailbacks also reported in northern France.

A number of factors have been blamed, including the UK government implementing further customs controls at the start of January, a year after the country quit the European Union’s single market and customs union.

Trucks now take longer to pass through Channel ports as their paperwork is verified.

“We’re urging both the French and UK governments to have constructive dialogue to ease the situation,” a spokesperson for Logistics UK, which represents an array of road, rail, sea and air operators, said on Monday.

“How much friction we will see in the system long term remains to be seen.”

The spokesperson added talks were “doubly important” because Britain is planning to implement new sanitary checks and passport control systems later this year, “which will undoubtedly add friction to the border transit and cause delays”.

Britain and the EU have been holding negotiations over post-Brexit issues, but they have been primarily focused on the complex situation in Northern Ireland.

The bottlenecks near Dover in southeast England have increased in recent months, with special traffic measures deployed on around half the days so far in January, including on Tuesday, according to officials.

Photos posted on social media in recent weeks have shown the lengthy lines of lorries parked up on one lane of the A20 dual carriageway approaching the port.

A Port of Dover spokeswoman confirmed officials had implemented the “well-established” traffic tools on its main approach road “on a number of occasions over the past week”.

She blamed the backlogs on “significant freight volumes”, several ferries being out of service for renovation and “external highway works impacting the port’s holding capacity” which come on top of further customs controls introduced on January 1.

A spokeswoman for the port of Calais in northern France, where there have also been reports of long queues, said there was “no problem of fluidity” there on Tuesday.

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Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU


France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test