Delays at Calais and Dunkirk ports as French customs agents cause disruption ahead of Brexit

Delays at Calais and Dunkirk ports as French customs agents cause disruption ahead of Brexit


4 minute read | By Denholm Good Logistics

Last updated: August 30, 2021 | Published: March 6, 2019


There are currently delays to get into the port of Calais or Eurotunnel of between four and six hours which may worsen throughout the day. Dunkirk port is also experiencing problems, with waiting times exceeding two hours. As a result of these excessive delays, transit times could be affected.

Traffic jams built up on Tuesday 5th March around the French port of Calais as customs officers worked to rule, carrying out tighter checks on lorries heading for the Channel Tunnel and the ferry port. The action, which began on Monday, is aimed at improving pay and staff numbers ahead of the UK’s expected departure from the EU on 29 March.

Although the French government will increase customs officers at Calais by 65 and by 64 in Dunkirk, unions say this isn’t enough and are demanding larger numbers and better pay after Brexit.

CGT union official Philippe Bollengier commented, “If the UK becomes a third country, checks will become more in-depth. This is the first, full demonstration of what will happen.”

How severe is the congestion?

The A16 motorway near Calais began having problems on Tuesday morning with the biggest queues being close to the ferry port and the Channel Tunnel exit. The tailbacks, which currently stretch back for several kilometres are causing long waits at border checkpoints.

Officials have set up holding areas to deal with the volume of traffic and lorries weighing more than 7.5 tonnes have been prohibited from taking the Westbound motorway route near Dunkirk to the tunnel.

It has also been reported that migrants have attempted to board vehicles to get across the channel which will only exasperate issues.

How will this affect shipments?

Our teams are monitoring all shipments in transit and will contact you if your shipment is affected by these delays. If you have any concerns, please contact your local John Good Logistics office who will advise accordingly.

How to avoid delays at Calais

One way to avoid delays at Calais is to use sea freight instead of road freight to get your goods in and out of the UK. For example, we have weekly sea freight services from Istanbul and Izmir that are usually suitable for most needs and offers an excellent alternative to road transport, delivering significant reductions in freight costs at the same time! Sea Freight transits are similar to current road freight transits with port to port in around 8-9 days and door to door in 14-16 days.

Here are six key advantages:

  • Customs Clearance at Felixstowe rather than Dover
  • Cost Savings
  • Reliable & Fixed Transit Times to the UK
  • Cargo Safety
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Deliveries / Fixed Schedules

For more helpful guidance on how you can prepare for Brexit, check out our handy infographic – Brexit – Getting prepared for No Deal.

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