Dartford Crossing – the complete guide

If you’ve driven on the M25’s east side, you’ll know the Dartford Crossing can be a nightmare. You’d think travelling across a bridge would be simple but, thanks to a muddled charging system, it can be confusing to work out what payment is needed.

Fortunately, we’re here to explain everything to help make your Dartford Crossing trip as easy and hassle-free as possible.

What is the Dartford Crossing?

The Dartford Crossing is a major road crossing in the UK on the M25 motorway – the ring road around Greater London. This busy crossing features a four-lane bridge travelling southbound and two two-lane tunnels travelling northbound. Speeds are limited to just 50mph in both directions.

Where is the Dartford Crossing?

It’s the only crossing over the River Thames east of London and connects Dartford in Kent and Thurrock in Essex. It’s also a crucial section of road for destinations such as the Channel Tunnel and Dover. The crossing is located 20 miles from central London and, as you’d expect from the M25, it can get extremely congested – particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.

If the crossing is closed, the only alternative routes are through London itself or to go the other way around the M25. The bridge can occasionally be shut due to high winds but, if that’s the case, one of the two tunnels will be used for southbound traffic to avoid traffic chaos. The crossing uses automatic numberplate recognition to record your entry, so there are no barriers to go through.

What vehicles have to pay the Dartford Crossing?

The Dartford Crossing was previously a toll road but an electric charging system – called Dart Charge – was introduced in November 2014. The cost differs depending on the vehicle, unless you’re travelling between 10pm and 6am, when it’s free. It’s also free if you ride a moped, motorcycle, motor tricycle or quad bike.

For cars, motorhomes, passenger vans and buses with fewer than nine seats, the single charge is £2.50 and this falls to £1.67 if you open a standard or commercial account. For two-axle goods vehicles and vans, the charge is £3.00 or £2.63 with an account, while multi-axle goods vehicles are charged £6.00 or £5.19 with an account.

Dartford Crossing resident’s discount

If you live in qualifying areas of Thurrock or Dartford, you can get a £10 per year resident’s discount including 50 crossings with additional trips costing 20p, or £20 for unlimited crossings.

How to pay the Dartford Crossing?

You can pay online or by phone either before your journey or by midnight the day after the crossing. Paying the Dartford Crossing charge can be done on the gov.uk website. You need to create a Dart Charge account to pay for crossings or apply for discounts. It’s also the place to go if you’ve run up any penalties.

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge at the Dartford crossing M25 toll

What are the Dartford Crossing fines?

Considering the relatively small cost of using the Dartford Crossing, the penalties are fairly hefty. If you don’t pay by midnight on the day after you travel, a £70 penalty notice is coming your way and must be paid within 28 days – similar to a parking ticket.

If you pay that within 14 days, it falls to £35. First offenders get let off by just having to pay the original fee amount. If you don’t pay at all within the 28-day window, the penalty rises to £105.

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