How to pay the Dart Charge – your questions answered…
Now the toll booths have been removed, we answer all your payment questions right here. Read on to find out how the system works, how much it costs – and how you can avoid being fined…
Please use the sections below to find the CORRECT number to call for phone payments.
How do I pay: There are several ways to pay, with a pre-pay account the cheapest option. These are the payment methods on offer:
1) Set up a pre-pay account:
This will need to be done in advance and will require you to pay in at least £10.00 when you register. You can manually top up the account or set it to add funds automatically. This is the cheapest way to pay, with registered cars costing £1.67 per crossing compared with the new price of £2.50 for those who pay in other ways. Set up a new pre-pay account here Change an existing Dart Tag account
A word of warning about the Dart Charge account… read this now
Reader James sent the following comment on the £1.67 Dart Charge account-holders have to pay each time they use the Dartford Crossing – and how it appears loaded to generate more fines for non-payment…
Comment: Topping up my account with £10, [and travelling] three times over and back leaves me 2p short on the sixth crossing [with a total grand total of £10.02 required] – a great way to collect fines it seems.
It should cost £1.66 per crossing, not £1.67!
Luckily I have spotted this, but how many won’t?
As you can see from the comment above, three round trips will cost Dart Charge account holders a total of £10.02. Most occasional users will simply add £10.00 at a time – leaving them open to receiving a fine for their final crossing.
What the Highways Agency says about the charges…
Asked about the charging levels, a Highways Agency spokesman told APH.com:
The charge is calculated to the nearest penny based on a one third discount on the standard charge of £2.50 – there is no other reason than that. The discount means that for many people the crossing is now cheaper, as well as being faster, than it was before the introduction of the new system.
Highways Agency spokesman
2) Pay online:
Pay for an individual crossing online by heading here before midnight the following day. Pay here.
3) NEW: Pay As You Go account:
What is it: This is an ideal service for drivers who don’t want to tie-up cash in a pre-pay account, but still want the charge paid automatically whenever they use the crossing. How it works: This system lets you register a vehicle without the need to make any initial payment and will automatically charge payments to a registered debit or credit card. However, this service will not offer discounted payments as the pre-pay Dart Charge account does. What you’ll need: Anyone can sign-up for this account, including foreign-registered vehicle owners. This was confirmed by Dart Charge on June 19, 2017. Best for: Occasional users who want to ensure they never get hit by fines. Set up your account: Setting up an account is easy. Simply click here to join up
4) NEW: Pay with Pingit smartphone app:
What is it: Piingit is an app that allows you to link a bank account and make instant payments direct from your mobile. These can be to other mobiles, or businesses – such as the Dartford Crossing. It’s operated by Barclays, but you won’t need to bank with them. How it works: Simply download the app – Android and iOS users – then link it to a bank account. You can then use the business directory to find the Dartford Crossing and pay for your crossing with the flick of a button. Best for: Tech-savvy drivers who want to make payments with the minimum of fuss. Set up your account: Simply download the app for your phone here https://www.barclays.mobi/BarclaysPingit/MP1242629610109
5) Pay in advance for a one-off crossing:
If you only use the crossing occasionally, for trips to the airport etc, then paying a minimum of £10.00 into an account is not a good use of your money. This option lets you pay for pay for individual crossings up to 12 months in advance. Simply book your parking with APH, then book your crossings at the same time (don’t forget to book pay for your return trip, too). Leaving this until you get to the airport could result in it getting forgotten as you battle your way through a busy terminal and queue-clogged check-in procedure. Pay in advance here
6) Over the phone:
Those without internet access will be pleased that you can pay for the charge by phone. You will need to do this by midnight the following day.
However, don’t leave this until the last moment, because we phoned the number only to be informed it was too busy to take our payment. Pay by phone (if it’s not too busy): 0300 300 0120
7) Payzone retail outlet:
This is where you can pop into a local store and pay for the charge by cash or other means. Simply use the store locator below to find the outlet that’s closest to you. Use the top drop-down option to select ‘Transport and ticketing’ then ‘Dart Charge’ in the next options list. Then input your postcode to find the nearest payment centre. Find your nearest Payzone retailer here
8) Pay by post:
If you really don’t like using new technology, then Luddites will feel at home with this err… handy pay-by-post option. You can only pay in advance and must send your cheques to:
Dart Charge Customer Services
PO Box 842
Leeds LS1 9QF
Are some vehicles exempt from paying the charge: Yes. If you are currently exempt from paying the charge, that will still be the case. This includes vehicles exempt from paying road tax because they are used for disabled persons. Please contact the DVLA to confirm if your vehicle is exempt.
Is it still free to use the crossing at night: Yes, the crossing remains free between 10pm and 6am every day of the week.
Why were the toll booths removed: The Government claims the new ‘free-flowing’ system will remove a bottleneck on the M25 and help ease congestion. The new system is also likely to raise a considerable amount in fines when people forget to pay on time.
What it I ‘forget’ to pay: So, you’re racing to the airport to catch your flight and have to pass through the Dartford Crossing to get there. Combine the stress/excitement of heading away, and you’ll most likely be lying on a sun lounger before you remember you haven’t paid. Anyone evading the charge will be hunted down using automatic number plate recognition systems and debt recovery firms. This will apply to vehicles from Europe, too.
How much will I be fined if I forget to pay: The penalty charges are as follows:
Non-payment after one day: £70.00
Reduced to £35.00 if paid in 14 days
Increased to £108.00 if not paid within 28 days
Penalty charge is payable for each use of the crossing, so a return trip could cost up to £216.00.
How to avoid paying the Dart Charge fine
Drivers must pay the Dartford Crossing toll (Dart Charge) before midnight on the day after using it. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £108 for each crossing. Here’s how to avoid it in the first place and what to do if you’ve already received one.
Use the crossing between 10pm and 6am:
It might sound simple, but many occasional users don’t realise it’s free to cross during these periods. Knowing this could help prevent a lot of unnecessary anxiety.
Charges apply in each direction:
You will need to pay for each crossing you make – be it through the tunnels or over the QE2 Bridge.
Set up a Pre-pay Dart Charge account:
You’ll need to do this in advance because it won’t cover earlier payments. The pre-pay account offers a discount of £1.67 per crossing – as opposed to £2.50. However, you’ll need to top it up with at least £10 and remember to manually add credit – or you could be fined. Create a Pre-pay account here.
Set up a Pay-as-you-go account:
The Pay-as-you-go account will not give you the discount on crossings available with the Pre-pay account above, but you won’t need to tie-up cash with an initial payment. Best option for those who use the crossing fairly regularly. Create a Pay-as-you-go account here
Pay in advance:
If you’re planning to use the Dartford Crossing for a one-off event – such as a trip to the airport – paying in advance is a sensible solution. You can pay up to 12 months in advance and won’t need to tie-up large amounts of cash, as with the Pre-pay account. Don’t forget to pay for your return trip, too, though. Pay for your parking in advance here.
Check a crossing payment has been accepted:
Problems with technology have resulted in payments not being received and fines being issued. Luckily, there’s an option allowing you to check your payment has been received. After making a one-off payment, make a note of your payment reference number then head to the link below. This will then tell you if your payment was recognised and for what crossing it was charged against. Check your payment here
Lodge an appeal:
The Automatic Number Plate Recognition system that triggers a charge against cars has been found wanting when it comes to reading certain letters – such as C and G – causing incorrect fines to be issued. Around 80% of appeals were accepted by Highways England in the first six months of the new system, so don’t let dodgy tech cost you. Here’s how to appeal if you’ve been issued an incorrect or unfair penalty charge.
Get an extra 14 days to pay the original £2.50 toll:
First-time ‘offenders’ will be given a 14-day grace period when the charge notice is sent out. This allows them to pay the original charge rather than the full fine.
Pay-up and save:
You might not be happy about it, but if you have got a fine that’s ‘correct’, paying it early will save cash. The fine of £70 will jump to £108 if not paid within 28 days, but be halved to £35 if paid within 14 days. However, wait until you get the demand before paying, as you might be a ‘first-time offender’ and only have to pay £2.50 per crossing missed. See above.
Read it in your own language:
Travelling from abroad – or have family or friends visiting the UK? Find out how to pay the charge and avoid fines with this multi-lingual leaflet covering French, Spanish, German and many other languages. Find the leaflet here.
Dartford Crossing closed for over 26 days in the first five months of 2018
The Dartford Crossing has been partly closed for almost 27 days since January 1, 2018.
Alongside the near-month of planned closures, emergency incidents have seen the crossing closed for a total of three days since the start of the year.
While all of planned works of the QE11 Bridge and tunnels occurred overnight and did not result in a total closure of the crossing, hard-pressed motorists are likely to feel short-changed by the service.
Peak-hour delays have been made worse by the three days of emergency closures. This has left big long queues for travellers using the UK’s busiest motorway.
Details of the closures were provided by Highways England in response to a Freedom of Information request submitted last month.
Check your road tax, MoT, licence and car insurance is valid
Can I cycle through the Dartford Crossing – all you need to know:
You can’t physically cycle through the Dartford Tunnels or over the QE2 Bridge, but you can ask for a special pick-up vehicle to take you and your bike across in safety. Here are the details you need.
Do I need to book the service to get my bike over the Dartford Crossing: No. Providing your bike will fit on a car’s bike rack, you can simply turn up and use the service.
How much is it to transport bikes through the Dartford Crossing: It’s free.
How do I request the service to take my bicycle over the Dartford Crossing: Getting your bike over or under the Dartford Crossing is simple. Just follow these instructions…
1) Go to Kent Point or Essex Point. The addresses for these are as follows:
Kent Point is located at this address: Crossing Offices Roundabout
South Orbital Road
Dartford, Kent , DA1 5PR
Essex Point is located at this address:
859 London Road
Essex, RM20 3AT
Essex Point can also be found via the cycleway next to the entry slip road for junction 31 of the M25 (A282) clockwise.
2) Follow signs directing you to a yellow telephone. 3) Use the phone to ask for a pick-up vehicle. It’s a direct line, so need for a number. 4) Wait in the clearly signed designated area. 5) A vehicle will arrive to convey you and your bike through the crossing.
When does the cycle crossing service open: Cyclists can use the service 7 days a week between the following hours:
3am – 9am
10:30am – 2pm
3pm – 9pm
10:30pm – 2am
How long will you have to wait: Typically, it will take around 15 minutes for the special pick-up vehicle to arrive. However, this could be longer during peak hours or periods of congestion.
Can large groups of cyclists use the Dartford Crossing service: Contact Connect Plus in advance for groups of more than three cyclists. You should also call ahead if your bike won’t fit on a standard bike rack, for example: tandems or bikes with trailers.
New service: Confirm your crossing payment was accepted
It’s the service that drivers have been demanding… read on to find out how you can dodge fines by confirming whether or not you’ve paid for your crossing.
New service could help prevent fines
A big complaint from drivers using the Dartford Crossing is that they’ve made payments only to receive a penalty charge weeks later. This new service promises to help motorists beat these unfair penalties.
How it works: After making a one-off payment, make sure you keep hold of your payment reference number then head to the link below. This will then tell you if the payment was recognised and for what crossing it was charged against. The service is currently in Beta so let us know how you get on.
From closures to new charges and toll systems, check this rolling news coverage for the very latest information from the Dartford Crossing…
Dartford Crossing sees slowest motorway speeds in UK
New data released by TomTom reveals the average speed of motorists heading north at the Dartford Crossing has slowed to a crawl of just 11mph.
The figures show that the average speed – between 8am and 9am – signals a cataclysmic decrease from the 53mph clocked in 2008.
TomTom has confirmed these are the slowest average motorway speeds in the UK – despite motorists being assured the unpopular new booth-free charging system would cut journey times.
How to appeal your Dartford Crossing penalty charge
Appeal and win… 8 out of 10 drivers do
The Automatic Number Plate Recognition system that triggers a charge against your car has been found wanting when it comes to reading certain letters – such as C and G – causing incorrect fines to be issued.
With a freedom of information request confirming more than 80% of appeals were accepted by Highways England in the first six months of the new system, it’s clear problems go far beyond mis-reading number plates. Here’s how to appeal if you’ve feel you’ve been issued an incorrect or unfair penalty charge.
In total, 37,751 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were challenged and 30,521 of those were accepted by Highways England
Freedom of Information Request from Auto Express
How to appeal: Challenge the penalty by contacting the issuing authority within 28 days of the notice being served. Quote your charge notice number and explain why you believe the penalty to be wrong.
Appeal to the independent adjudicator: If your appeal is rejected, you can take it to an independent adjudicator. Information on how to do this will be included in the original rejection. You must appeal to the adjudicator within 28 days of the original Notice of Rejection being received. Delivery is usually deemed to be 2 working days after the date on the notice.
Reasons for appeal to the independent adjudicator must fall into the following:
You were not the registered keeper of the vehicle when the contravention occurred
The vehicle was taken without the owner’s consent
The owner is a vehicle hire firm
The road user charge was paid on time and as required
No user charge or penalty is payable
The penalty exceeded the amount that applied in the circumstances
There has been a procedural impropriety by the charging authority
Tell us your view as number of fines hits 3.5million
Fines could total up to £367million
Nearly 3.5 million drivers have been issued with fines for not paying the Dartford Crossing since toll booths were axed in November 2014.
Statistics also reveal that 745,000 fines have been issued to foreign-registered vehicles – around 25% of the foreign drivers who use the crossing.
Lower Thames Crossing is coming?
The route for a new Thames crossing has been proposed and a consultation has started.
The chosen option ‘C’ will see a new road link the M25, near North Ockendon, Essex, with the A2 near Shorne, Kent.
Here’s a virtual trip through the proposed Lower Thames Crossing – that could ease pressure on the Dartford Crossing.
Rental car companies hit drivers in Dartford chaos
Hire car charges revealed for Dartford Crossing
HIRE CAR FIRMS CHARGING £35+ ‘ADMIN’ FEE FOR PAYING £2.50 CROSSING
Drivers of hire cars are being hit by unexpected charges from rental firms amid confusion around the Crossing’s new cash-free payment system.
Motorists who forget to pay are offered a 14-day grace period if it’s a ‘first offence’, allowing them to satisfy the original fee (£2.50 for a car) within the two-week period and avoid fines of up to £125 for each crossing, but it seems this offer is not being passed on to hire car drivers.
Reports from drivers contacting APH claim rental companies are taking the £2.50 from their credit cards before adding big ‘admin’ fees on top.
While it’s understandable that rental firms require compensation for time spent paying the toll, making these charges clearer would help reduce confusion around the admin charge and £2.50 14-day grace period.
We asked major hire car companies to confirm their policy for clarity. Hertz and Sixt were the only ones to respond.
Hertz told us that in addition to the original fee, it charges non-payers an admin fee of £42 to cover time and costs of dealing with the payment. The company pointed out this is covered in its “rental valet, the rental agreement and online, under ‘Rental Qualifications and Requirements’”.
Sixt responded by telling us: ‘In the event that the fee was not paid within the 14 day time frame, the authorities will send a notification of the fine to Sixt who will then pay the penalty charge directly to the issuing authority and will charge the credit card associated with your hire for the £2.50 fine plus an administration charge of £36.00’.
What you told us…
We asked drivers to tell us about charges taken by hire car companies after forgetting to pay for the crossing, with responses showing charges of up to £73.50 from Europcar, £79.50 from Hertz and £35 from Enterprise. However, it’s not clear if these include multiple crossings.
Our adviceThe best advice is to pay the charge, but users of hire cars could be visitors to the area or even foreign tourists, so many won’t be aware of changes. When booking your hire car, we’d recommend asking for email confirmation of relevant admin ‘charges’. Picking a company, such as Hertz or Sixt, that has a responsive customer service team could also save lots of wasted time and frustration should you have any difficulties.
Have you been fined while using a hire car?
Have you been received a fine for non-payment of the Dartford Crossing while using a hire car? We’d like to hear about how you were treated by the hire company.
If you were charged for a crossing by the hire car provider, we’d be grateful if you could fill out the form below with a couple of details.
Drivers paying London Congestion Charge by mistake
Don’t get caught out
Confusing signage at the Dartford Crossing is resulting in drivers paying the London Congestion Charge by mistake.
This can leave them paying five times more than the Dart Charge for a single crossing and receiving a penalty of up to £125 for each crossing.
What’s the problem
Signage approaching the Dartford Crossing tells drivers to pay by searching for Dart Charge online, however the signage has no web address and uses the same red and white ‘C’ symbol as the London Congestion Charge.
Reports suggest drivers searching online have confused the two systems – because of the symbol – and paid the wrong one.
Surely that’s not possible
Sadly it is. The London Congestion Charge system can read your numberplate, of course, but rather confusingly it won’t stop you from paying even if you haven’t entered the zone – making it easy to pay the wrong charge.
What do the authorities think about this
Transport for London, which looks after the London Congestion Charge, is so concerned about the possibility of people mixing up its charge with the Dartford toll, that it’s devoted a webpage to it. Read it here.However, it has not changed the signage in any way to make the difference any clearer to motorists.
Latest traffic news
Here are the latest traffic updates for the Dartford Crossings.
This section will be active during periods of planned roadworks and closures.
Looking for info on a different toll route?
Click above for our guide to all the UK’s major toll roads, bridges, tunnels and congestion zones
Along with Dartford, the UK has many other toll roads, tunnels, bridges and congestion zones to catch you out. Dodge the fines and inconvenience by using this guide to find all the payment costs and methods you need right here. Just use the dropdown menu below to find the toll you’re after.
Online payments being charged twice
Anyone paying online to use the Dartford Crossing should check their bank accounts to make sure they’ve not been charged twice for a single crossing.
The AA has backed up comments from users on this feature that new systems installed in place of tolls have been duplicating some payments.
Highways England (which oversees the system) said most payments were processed accurately. However, many drivers have contacted us complaining that extra payments had been taken from their account.
A spokesperson for Highways England said: “Given the scale of transactions from time to time errors will be made for which we apologise unreservedly.”
Drivers who think they’re due a refund should contact Highways England on 0300 300 0120
WARNING: Don’t pay more than you should by using unofficial websites
Drivers are being charged up to 60% more to use the Dartford Crossing by unofficial websites taking advantage of confusion surrounding the new payment system since toll booths were axed in 2014.
Here we look at one such unofficial website – named dartfordcrossingcharges.co.uk – that’s recently launched…
How it works
There is no suggestion this website is operating illegally, but it fails to clearly state on the homepage that it is nothing to do with the official site – or that you’ll be charged an extra 60% for something you can easily do yourself.
In addition to the cost hike, sites like Dartfordcrossingcharges site have no way of effectively checking your details – it even fails to ask what vehicle you are paying for, making it impossible to highlight mistakes when entering the registration mark. The official Dart Charge site will confirm the make and registration before allowing motorists to pay.
Unofficial sites will simply take your money, pocket the admin charge and pay the outstanding toll on the public Dart Charge site – regardless of vehicle details.
It’s also clear that Dartfordcrossingcharges is targeting millions of foreign drivers who use the crossing each year, with the website offering versions of the payment system in 18 languages.
How to pay the official site:
If paying online, make sure you save cash and get an official receipt by heading here – otherwise you could be left with no proof of payment or means of appeal if something goes wrong. www.gov.uk/pay-dartford-crossing-charge
Comment: The new remote payment system and poor signage has resulted in almost 3.5million fines being issued since the Crossing’s toll booths were axed in 2014.
This is not due to more motorists attempting to avoid payment, but an abject failure of the system to ensure occasional users and foreign visitors know how to pay.
Signage on the M25 urges drivers to ‘search online’ without giving a website URL. It’s this confusion that is costing motorists cash and helping unofficial websites profit from desperate motorists attempting to beat the payment deadline – without the correct information readily available.
We will continue to press for a change to the information and signage informing motorists how to pay.
SEND TO A FRIEND AND SAVE A FINE
Know someone that occasionally uses the Dartford Crossing? Send them this guide to the charging system using the share buttons below. You could be saving them from a big fine.
Use buttons below to share this with family and friends: