How to Get From the UK to France by Car: All You Need to Know About the Dover Ferry & Eurotunnel
Look at driving to France from the UK? Here we’ll be exploring the most popular routes to do this: the Dover Ferry and the Eurotunnel. Here’s all you need to know about how to get from the UK to France by car.
*Prices and information are based on 2020
How to Get From the UK to France by Car:
Can You Drive From the UK to France – Can I Drive Through the Channel Tunnel?
If you’re researching how to get from the UK to France by car, there’s a chance that you might not know anything about the Eurotunnel. If you’re asking in the literal sense about driving through it, then no. There is not a bridge that crosses along the channel and you can’t drive through the channel tunnel either. But, yes you can go from the UK to France in the car.
How Do I Get From England to France by Car?
You’ll have to take a ferry or board a train with your car that will take you through the channel tunnel. You’ll learn all about this here. 😉
Should I Catch the Dover Ferry or the Eurotunnel?
When thinking about how to get from the UK to France by car, deciding on HOW to cross the channel all depends on what you want from your journey.
You need to ask yourself questions such as – am I on a tight budget? What time of year am I looking to travel (for tourism and weather purposes)? Do I need to get there quickly (tight schedule)?
This is important as it will influence your decision on what the best form of transportation will be. In adverse weather conditions, usually in the winter, it’s not unusual for the ferry to be delayed. Similarly, in the height summer, I find that the Eurotunnel is more likely to be delayed.
The Eurotunnel is pretty much always more expensive than the ferry and in some cases, it’s over double the cost. So there’s a lot of things to consider here.
The Cheapest Way to Drive to France From the UK
Which Is Cheapest out of the Dover Ferry and the Eurotunnel?
As I just stated, the Eurotunnel is almost always more expensive than the ferry (unless you land yourself with a great deal or discount code).
Although the starting price for the Eurotunnel is cheaper, it’s pretty rare to find them that cheap, in comparison to a ferry deal. From my experience of always travelling between the two, the ferry is generally much cheaper, but do look out for deals and check.
How Much Does It Cost to Take the Channel Tunnel?
How Much Does the Eurotunnel Cost?
The Eurotunnel price can vary between £31 per way to as much as £160 per way. I’ve found that the average cost is around £80 per way.
How Much Does the Dover Ferry Cost?
Prices for the Dover ferry via P&O cost between £49 per way to as much as £100 per way and DFDS from £49 per way to as much as £100 per way.
How Long Does It Take to Get the Ferry From the UK to France?
The ferry takes between 1.5 – 2 hours (not including loading and unloading the ferry). If you go from Dover to Calais, it generally takes around 1.5 hours. If you go from Dover to Dunkirk, it’s a bit longer, taking around 2 hours.
How Long Does It Take to Get the Channel Tunnel From the UK to France?
The Eurotunnel is also much faster than the ferry as the Eurotunnel only takes around 35 minutes, with only around 5 minutes to get off.
Which Is the Best Dover Ferry Company?
Which Is the Cheapest Dover Ferry Company?
There are two different ferry companies that go from Dover to France and these are DFDS and P&O ferries. I find that DFDS is usually cheaper, so it’s better from a financial perspective, however, if P&O has a good deal on, then it can be much cheaper.
The main reason I also tend to go with DFDS over P&O, is that I can technically take three different ferries. The ferry I’ve booked, the ferry just before the one I’ve booked and the one just after the one I’ve booked (subject to space on the ferry). This means if I arrive early, I won’t have to wait and equally, if I’m stuck in traffic and am late, I can still catch the ferry.
With P&O, you have to pay extra to have this (flexi-tickets).
Do I Need a Passport to Go to France From the UK?
Is there a customs check between France and the UK (and vice versa)?
If you’re British, then the answer to this is yes. Weirdly enough we don’t have official government passcards that you can travel on like many other people in Europe. If you’re European and the Brexit transition period is still in place, then you have an official ID, then you can travel on this. Post-Brexit, it’s got to be a passport.
So, in short, yes – you will need your passport to hand to get onto the ferry on either side. The UK is not part of Schengen and also is about to leave the EU. After 2020, it will be a hard border.
Travel Documents Needed for the Dover Ferry
If you’re crossing the border as a British citizen before the Brexit-transition period has ended then you will need your passport and your ticket. You should also have your car documentation in your car just in case you get into any difficulty driving through France.
After Brexit, you will need a green card and also possibly a visa.
If you’re crossing the border as a EU citizen (not British) before the Brexit-transition period has ended then you will need a passport or ID card and your ticket. You also should take any car documents in case.
After Brexit, you will need to travel with a passport. You will also need a green card and possibly even a visa. Keep an eye on the Gov website for all up-to-date Brexit travel advice.
Travelling Documents Needed for the Eurotunnel
The exact same rules apply for the Eurotunnel as they do on the Dover ferry (read above).
Keep an eye on the Gov website for all up-to-date Brexit travel advice.
How Do I Get From England to France as a Passenger Without Flying?
Are you looking on travelling between the UK and France but you don’t want to drive? It is possible. You cannot board the Eurotunnel train as a passenger, but you can catch the Eurostar from London and that will take you to mainland Europe. You can also go as a passenger on P&O ferries – this is not possible on DFDS.
How to Get From the UK to France by Car: The Dover Ferry
If you’re looking to catch the ferry for the first time, then you may be wondering what to expect on your first trip.
- Firstly, make sure you’ve set your Sat Nav correctly
- Follow the signs to the car ferry and then be sure to get into the correct lane – lanes are generally separated into large and small vehicles and when you get to the check-in desk, lanes are based on what company you are with
- When you first arrive at the ferry port, you will need to go through security. Here you will stop for both the UK and French authorities. Here they will check your passport
- You will then be pulled over by border force, who you make you get out of your car. They will check your car to ensure you do not have any additional passengers in the car and for illegal or suspicious items.
- Sometimes you have to drive into a security point, where your car will be thoroughly searched and scanned.
- After this, you will need to drive to the check-in desk. Here they will check your passports and tickets and you will be ‘checked in’
- You will be given something to hang off your rearview mirror. It will have information about what ferry you are catching. Here you will drive off and get into the lane specified on this sheet of paper. You’ll then wait in this lane until you’re instructed to board
Taking Pets on the Eurotunnel
You can take your pets on the Eurotunnel! Pets will stay in the vehicle with you during your crossing and there are special ‘pet exercise areas’ before you catch your train, so you can rest assured that your pet has time for a walk and to do its business. There is a £20 charge per way to take your cats, dogs and ferrets. Guide dogs, small rodents, fish and reptiles and birds. Some are excluded – check it out here.
When taking your pet, be sure to have all documentation such as pet passports with you for inspection. Find more information about this here.
Taking Pets on the Dover Ferry
Pets can be taken on board on P&O ferries, but they must stay in the car. They must travel with a pet passport and meet all EU and vaccination requirements (complete details of this are found here).
They are now new exercise areas for dogs at the Port of Dover, so you can allow your dog to get the exercise it needs before boarding the ferry. It will cost £15 per pet each way to take your pet on P&O Ferries.
Pets can be taken on board on P&O ferries, but they must stay in the car. They must travel with a pet passport and meet all EU and vaccination requirements (complete details of this are found here). It will cost £15 per pet each way to take your pet on DFDS.
How to Get From the UK to France by Car: The Eurotunnel
- Once you approach the Eurotunnel, you’ll have to get in lane, this will lead you to security. Here you will have to present your ID and any travel documents (such as a visa if needed)
- You’ll then be led to the check-in desk, where you will be checked in. If you’ve arrived in good time before boarding the train, then you can park in a large car park with a food hall, duty-free shop, toilets and even a playpark for your dog
- There are lots of information boards around this area telling you departure times. Be sure to give yourself enough time before boarding the train
- Once you’ve boarded the train, then you are advised to put the windows down a bit, to circulate air into your vehicle
- You can get out of your car to go to the toilet, but you’re not allowed to stand around behind or in front of vehicles for safety reasons
- Contrary to popular belief, you won’t get a good view inside the Eurotunnel. There are a few windows, but you’re inside a dark tunnel, so you won’t be able to see anything
- Once you’re approaching your destination, you’ll be informed in advance and after 5 minutes you’ll be driving off the train. It’s easy and quick
How to Drive in France / French Driving Rules
If you’ve never driven in France before, there are some important things to know:
- They drive on the right side of the road (I’m hoping you already know this!)
- Speed limits and distances are calculated in km. 1 mile is around 1.6km
- The speed limits in France are: Motorway, 130km/hr (110km/hr in the rain). Dual carriageway, 110km/hr. Main roads (not built-up area), 80km/hr. Roads in built-up areas, usually 50km/hr
- You must have your dipped lights adjusted so it doesn’t dazzle other drivers
- And you must have your driving licence and passport with you in case you get stopped
- You must have a reflective triangle in your car
- And you must have high visibility jackets in your car
- If your number plate does not display your country, you must buy and display a GB sticker
Catching the Ferry From the UK to Another Country: List of Where You Can Travel to via Ferry From the UK
Heart not set on France? These are all of the ferries you can catch from the UK:
- Plymouth – France
- Harwich – Holland
- Newcastle – Holland
- Folkestone – France
- Dover – France
- Newhaven – France
- Holyhead – Ireland
- Portsmouth – France
- Fishguard – Ireland
- Holyhead – Ireland
- Hull – Holland
- Poole – France
- Weymouth – France
- Plymouth – Spain
In short, with a bit of preparation beforehand, it’s really easy to kickstart your road trip from the UK to France. If you need any more information, feel free to ask questions in the comments!