New 'Exit Checks' At Ferry Ports Cause Concerns For Operators

New 'Exit Checks' At Ferry Ports Cause Concerns For Operators

Under the Home Office’s ‘exit check’ scheme, introduced this week, passengers leaving the UK by ferry for the Continent will now be subject to a passport check, carried out by the ferry operator.  The UK Chamber has been engaged in this issue throughout and has warned in several media outlets this week, that on peak days the new scheme may result in delays and long tailbacks for passengers. 

This scheme will enable the Government to claim that it has delivered on a manifesto commitment, but it offers no benefits to passengers.  Outbound passport controls at ferry ports were removed by the Home Office in 1994 on the grounds that they were a waste of time.

Ferry operators have worked hard to minimise the impact of the new scheme on passengers, and all passports will be scanned. In an effort to minimise disruption, the verification process will be phased from 25% of passengers subjected to the two stage process for the next month rising gradually until the end of June, when all passengers will have their passports scanned and verified.

On peak travel days, such as school and bank holidays, the UK Chamber of Shipping is concerned that check in times for passengers could be doubled by this new processs. This will undoubtedly lead to delays and tailbacks through the port and beyond, with models showing that queues of up to 8km could form at the busiest times.

The chamber has been working closely throughout with the Home Office since the inception of the scheme, and would like to see some arrangements in place so that should these large scale delays occur, a pragmatic approach can be taken to prevent queues getting out of control during peak periods

Tim Reardon, Director of Policy for Taxation, Ferry and Cruise commented that;

“Travel by ferry is the hassle-free way of getting to Europe and is increasingly popular.  Freight traffic is also growing strongly, now back to pre-recession levels.  The Government has a clear duty not to expose passengers to the dangers of being held up in long queues on the motorway on summer days, and we need to be confident that Ministers will live up to that duty.”

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