Long queues at Calais as British tourists leave France

The Local France
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Long queues at Calais as British tourists leave France
Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

British holidaymakers again endured long queues at cross-Channel ports over the weekend, this time in Calais as they headed back to the UK ahead of the new school year.


The start of the summer holidays in the UK were marked by long queues at the port of Dover, and furious British headlines blaming the French for the chaos.

Now the end of the holidays has seen similar scenes, this time in Calais where British holidaymakers reported long queues to pass through British passport control.

Although schools in France restarted on September 1st, most schools in the UK don't return until this week, making this weekend the 'return' weekend for British holidaymakers, with high volumes of passenger traffic at Calais.


The problems were concentrated at the ferry port, with both P&O Ferries and DFDS advising passengers of queues of up to 90 minutes to get through UK border control.


Both ferry companies waived booking times to allow people to travel on the next sailing if they missed their departure time while waiting in the queue.

BBC journalist Tom Hourigan, caught up the chaos as he returned from a trip to France, reported that on Sunday only half of the UK border force booths were staffed.


Since Brexit, the process of travel in and out of France has become more complicated, with border control forces required to check and stamp passports of travellers.

In addition, there are different rules for people travelling with pets, and restrictions on the items that passengers can bring in to France.

Travel to France: What has changed since Brexit?

At the start of the summer, the UK travel expert Simon Calder estimated that the enhanced checks now take a minimum of 90 seconds for a family of four travelling in the same car at a ferry port, compared to just a couple of second pre-Brexit.

Although this doesn't sound like a lot, multiplied by many cars it can cause long delays.

The new travel rules have been in place since January 2021, but Covid-related travel bans meant that this summer has been the first time that we have seen the combination of normal passenger numbers and post-Brexit checks. It appears that both Dover and Calais ports have struggled to cope on their busiest weekends.

OPINION: UK-France travel problems will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit



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