Brilliant John, thanks for posting
Makes me wonder as to how many French Immigration Officers would be deployed if the checks were done in Calais and the entire port area was jammed up with queued vehicles.
Perhaps the French Authorities just don’t want Brits to come to France to spend their money. One would have thought that France would be doing everything possible to boost their tourist trade rather than discourage it.
My understanding is there was a delay of a few hours due to issues with the Euro Tunnel on Friday morning, which meant some of the border staff couldn’t travel. However, by lunchtime all the staff were in Dover.
I don’t buy the idea that the French authorities were somehow doing something on purpose.
Firstly, this isn’t a bunch of kids in a playground where somebody’s taking their ball and going home in a huff
Secondly, I think we all know that if this was caused by some industrial action by French officials then they’d have certainly not turned up by midday and the UK would have already ground to a halt.
Lastly, both a Director of Comms for Eurostar plus the CEO of the port of Dover have said in televised interviews that the delays are caused by additional checks now required because of Brexit.
This final point is obvious really. Yet the hard of thinking in the UK (Hartley-Brewer, Darren Grimes, Nick Ferrari, Liz Truss, etc…) don’t accept that pre-Brexit passport checks - that simply consisted of checking they were the same person as in the mugshot - were considerably quicker than someone now having to also check how many days they’ve been in the EU and stamping their passport.
so… you are saying that there should be no border checks on entering the EU of third country individuals?
What’s wrong with Europe maintaining control of its borders?
There are no reported incidents as far as I am aware of delays at other ports, or airports in France concerning checking of passports where French border officials are in place.
I’m surprised by your comment to be honest. As I believe you are a frequent traveller to the States, you will be well aware of the massive queues of aliens at airport arrival gates in the US to clear immigration controls. Unless you have a green card and can fast track through, you’ve probably stood in a few of them - I did at Boston MA (Logan) on arrival from both Heathrow and from Keflavik, Iceland so this is certainly not unique to France.
This Cab Log from Logan suggests 3 hours in the queue was not uncommon - and that is about what I experienced.
Is it not right that countries protect their borders or should they just abandon their controls for the sake of the British who believe they still rule the empire?
Britannia might waive the rules (except when it suits them) but the EU is better than that.
You seem to be unaware that the French have expanded facilities considerably on their side, and the port of Dover authority applied for funding to double the number of French border post booths on the UK side (presumably with the agreement of the French) only to be turned down by the UK government.
Until and unless the UK government starts to admit the harm that Brexit has done (and last night both Sunak and Truss flat up denied any of the delays at Dover were down to Brexit) we will be unable to move forward.
Having stood in the Border Control hall of San Francisco airport with it’s 1980s correctional facility chic and smell of wet dog/school changing room more times than I care to remember, I can safely say that waiting for hours to cross a border isn’t limited to Dover.
And last night both Sunak and Truss snapped a “no” answer to the question were the Dover delays due to Brexit. That one question and the emphatic response says two things to me, firstly they are just another couple of barefaced liars and two, they have nothing but contempt for the British public.
I find this pretty demoralising.
I wonder if we could possibly consider this matter from a ‘Brexit Neutral’ viewpoint.
I would have thought that any country which has expended considerable sums of money in relation to the Covid pandemic would be wishing to do everything they can to encourage tourism, and thus the spending of foreign exchange currency in their country. Surely it would therefore be prudent to ensure that delays are minimised by providing the maximum number of staff at an entry point where large numbers of tourist are known to arrive.
@Gareth I note your point about a Euro Tunnel issue last Friday morning, but could not border staff heading for Dover have simply hopped onto a ferry ?
Additionally, I find it difficult to understand how passport checks can really be taking so much longer. Passports are scanned and logged these days, and I am sure that the computer is able to calculate how many of the 90 days in 180 remain available in milliseconds. Also, the stamping of a passport takes about 3 seconds and really doesn’t amount to a huge percentage of the time taken to pass through an immigration check.
@graham I am sure you know very well that I am certainly not advocating failing to carry out border checks, and that indeed all countries should do so. What I am saying is that it is sensible to carry out the checks efficiently, and within a reasonable timescale, if one actually wishes to encourage tourists to bring their money. Surely it is therefore sensible to provide the number of staff necessary to deal with the volume of traffic that can reasonable be foreseen, which is no doubt exactly what is done at other ports of entry where, as you mentioned, no backlogs are occasioned.
As you mentioned, I do indeed travel to the USA from time to time. I have used Washington Dulles, Baltimore/Washington International, Newark, and Kennedy airports and have never stood in an immigration queue for anything like 3 hours. Now I admit that I travel in a ‘family group’ with a US citizen, that I have a 10 year US Visa, and that we plan our travel to avoid peak periods. However, if I had to queue at immigration for 3 hours or more, then I simply would not make the journey at all. Last time I was at IAD (Dulles) most of the 30 or more immigration booths were manned and we sailed straight through. I think it took all of about 3 minutes to have my photo and fingerprints taken, my passport scanned and stamped, and to have a few friendly words with the young man who was doing his duty very efficiently in a friendly and welcoming manner.
I do not expect British citizens to have special privileges, but I do expect countries that wish to attract foreign visitors (and their money) to have an efficient and effective border control system.
@billybutcher Seems to me that there would be little point in increasing the number of border control points at Dover when the French authorities seem unable to fully man those which already exist. I distinctly recall seeing the CEO of the Port Authority on the TV saying that they had requested 14 French Immigration Officers to be in post by 4am, and that only 6 had been made available.
In general, it just seems that this whole debacle could have been avoided with a better degree of forward planning by certain parties. Clearly the problem is one of insufficient staff to deal with the volume of traffic which can reasonably be expected to exist. Whether this is a result of deliberate planning, or more straightforward incompetence, it is bound to have the same effect of being a substantial discouragement to prospective tourists to France, and that cannot be a good thing for the French economy.
However I believe that there are only five booths currently open - not clear why they would need 14 staff (covering breaks perhaps).
AIUI the French still say that they planned to fully man the booths and they were fully manned later in the day but a backlog had already built up by then. The fact that they couldn’t get all the planned staff in place is being blamed on a glitch with the Eurostar service (which, FWIW, Eurostar deny).
We could, but as Brexit is the cause of the additional checks which lead to the additional delays I’m not sure that is useful.
Indeed one of the huge problems with Brexit is that it is the elephant in the room which no one dare mention - and until we can be honest about the damage that it is doing we can’t begin to properly address the problems.
So, no, I don’t think we can have a “Brexit Neutral” discussion on this point.
Isn’t France the number one global destination for tourists? It certainly was. I’m not sure, even post pandemic, it’s in that desperate need for every single foreigner to come in that they’d do “everything they can”, while appreciating tourism cash is generally a positive thing of course.
Not all people travelling from Dover toCalais are staying in France for their holiday or business trip ,so I find it very odd that you are saying customs or border force should be bending over backwards to speed people through.
Well I suppose it depends on whether one primarily regards the Immigration authorities as being a ‘service provider’ or an ‘enforcement agency’. I think that the former is more appropriate in these modern times.
I admit to not having been to Dover to count the booths lately, but from what I see on the TV it seems that there are a lot more than 5 lanes/booths in existence.
As I said previously, I also think that the ‘additional checks’ re the 90 days in 180 Schengen rule are something that the computer can do in milliseconds, and that therefore they are not really a valid reason for all these delays.
Is this the EU wide system that’s not even operational yet?
EES, difficult to find official info but the last I heard was that it was due in October, having been postponed from May.
The problem is that no one quite knows how to apply it to four passengers in a car - it should be find in the airports where passengers are on foot and can be directed singly through kiosks but the Dover port authority are not happy with the idea of getting people out of cars in the middle of live traffic.
Well, this is what the the bbc have to say
More on EES and the problems that it poses for the ferry ports and tunnel from the Justice and Home Affairs committee - https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2964/pdf/
what does EES stand for… ??
my onward journey was to Laconia, New Hampshire and Logan was really the only sensible choice from UK. The first time via Keflavic and the second time a few months later direct to Logan from Heathrow. Both occasions involved a substantial wait in the alien queues at Logan as a number of aircraft arrived at Logan within short order from various departure locations which, as a mere passenger, could not have been predicted (by me, at any rate).
I was interested in your comment about interacting with the border force personnel in the States. Perhaps it is different for those privileged with a green card/10 year visa already in place accompanied by American citizens but aliens are definitely advised not to engage with them - or even look them in the eye as that can be very much misconstrued and could involve detailed cross examination in a darkened room with a bright spot lamp shining in your eyes
One has to be so careful about respecting local custom and practice around the world
The Greyhound journey from Logan to NH was just as interesting with the hoops to be jumped through to obtain a ticket.
Still, I enjoyed my stays in the States, achieved my objectives and came back to the UK with my my Pilot certificates (private, instrument and commercial) and a broad smile so the waits were worth it.