Eurotunnel Freight Crossings from the UK
The Channel Tunnel is a quick and relatively hassle-free way to get to France. But to make it even easier, we’ve put together this guide for freight passengers. Whether you’re after the postcode for your Sat Nav or want to know what to expect before you arrive, you’ve come to the right place.
Folkestone Eurotunnel Terminal
Latitude: 51° 5’ 44” N (51.09559)
Longitude: 1° 07’ 19” E (1.12207)
How Long Does it Take?
The length of a Eurotunnel journey is measured from motorway to motorway i.e. how long it takes from leaving the motorway in the UK to joining it in France.
We’ve done the journey as a freight customer in as little as 60 minutes, although the average is around 90.
Getting to the Terminal
The main entrance to the UK Eurotunnel terminal is on the M20, coast bound. It has its own exit, Junction 11a, which is used for freight and passenger vehicles.
The tunnel is signposted from the M25, so getting to the M20 shouldn’t be a problem.
Remember that our offices are also off the M20, at Folkestone motorway services – also known as Stop 24. We have a secure truck park which is available for a free, two-hour stop, or call into our bureau de change for a discounted rate on Euros and Swiss Francs.
The bureau is open 24 hours a day, or you can pre-order your currency by phone, 9am ‘til 5pm Monday to Friday. Call us on 01304 218328.
When you arrive at the terminal, the overhead gantry indicates which lanes are available. Usually, freight vehicles use the left-hand lane. Head for the check-in booths. If you’re travelling in a van or small lorry you should use the far left check-in area – this is designed for your vehicle’s height.
If it’s a very sunny day, the check-in screens can be difficult to see, but there are usually staff around to help. There is a help button, but the staff are usually quite on the ball, so you might not even need to press it.
The ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras work to find your booking on the Eurotunnel system. This is why your vehicle number is so important when you book.
You’ll then be asked if you’re carrying hazardous goods – simply press yes or no. Please be aware that if you say yes and haven’t pre-arranged to transport the goods on the tunnel this will cause you delays.
If you’re carrying a hazardous load it’s best to call Eurotunnel directly on 01303 282102 with the details. They’ll tell you if you’re okay to travel.
Remember that you can’t take live animals or children under the age of 12 on Eurotunnel Freight.
You’ll then need to key in how many people are in your vehicle. Once you press Validate, a ticket is printed for you and the barrier will open.
If you have a problem and the staff direct you to the drivers’ information centre, call us on 01304 218328. Our staff are available 24 hours a day – don’t buy any other tickets until you have spoken to us. We are often able to fix the problem in a few minutes.
Once you go through the barrier you have a choice what to do next:
- Keep right to get something to eat or if you’d like a break
- Keep left to go straight to the train
The Drivers’ Information Centre
If you go right after the barrier you’ll see the Drivers’ Information Centre at the far right of the holding area parking. Here you can buy something to eat and drink from a selection of vending machines.
Please note, there is no food available on the trains and while there are drinks machines, you might find they only take Euros.
The Drivers’ Information Centre also has free Wi-Fi.
Once you’re ready to leave for France, simply follow the signs.
Passport and Security Checks
When you head for the train, you may be stopped by the UK Border force or Kent Police for passport checks.
After UK passport control you’ll approach the security checks for Eurotunnel. This could include a manual check, or your vehicle might have to go through Euroscan. This is an imaging system allowing security personnel to view the vehicle and its contents.
Next, you’ll pass through French passport control. At this point you are legally entering France.
French police may wish to check your passport or the contents of your vehicle. It may seem strange to have all the checks before you get on the train, but this means you can simply drive away when you get to France.
After the immigration checks, go to a manned booth and you’ll be assigned a lane to follow. These are lettered. Wait in your lane until the train is ready for boarding. The information screens will tell you how many trains are running and when they’ll be departing.
On the Train
When the train’s ready, follow the directions to get onboard.
If you’re in a van or small lorry you might be held back until there is another vehicle of similar size – the carriages hold one articulated lorry or two smaller vehicles.
Follow the instructions given by the Eurotunnel staff as to where to stop and when to get out. Before the train departs, your vehicle will be chocked to stop it moving during the journey. Don’t forget to lock it. All electrical equipment and fridge units must be turned off during the crossing.
Once you’ve parked, you’ll be collected by a shuttle bus and taken to the club car at the front of the train. Eurotunnel have installed equipment to give you a mobile signal, so you’ll be able to use your phone in the tunnel.
On arrival in Calais, the bus will take you back to your vehicle. Don’t start your engine or attempt to move until instructed to do so.
Once you’re off the train, simply follow the signs to the motorway.
If you get stuck or you’d like to book tickets for the Eurotunnel, get in touch with us on 01304 218328.