The Dartford Crossing connects Essex and Kent over the Thames estuary, consisting of two tunnels (one northeast-bound, one southwest-bound) and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
It is considered one of the UK’s most important crossings, handling more than 150,000 vehicles every day.
Development of the crossing began back in the 1930s, but was interrupted by World War Two. Work on the first tunnel resumed in the 1950s and was completed by 1963. The second tunnel opened in 1980. By 1991 the bridge was complete.
Do you have to pay to cross the Dartford Crossing?
This route has always been tolled, but the toll became a "charge" in 2003.
Toll booths were removed, and a free flowing electronic Dartford crossing charging system was introduced in 2014, making it possible for drivers to pay the Dartford Charge:
- by phone,
- by text,
- via a website or;
- in designated Payzone shops.
The Dartford Crossing charge is payable in both directions, meaning that there is a charge when crossing the Dartford bridge, as well as a Dartford tunnel charge.
How is the Dartford Crossing toll enforced?
The Dartford crossing toll charges are enforced by checking number plates using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.
What are the benefits of the electronic Dartford Crossing payment system?
The electronic Dart Charge payment system is said to have reduced peak-time journeys by 15 minutes.
However, in the first year 1.5m penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued to drivers who failed to pay the Dartford crossing charges.
What days does the Dartford Crossing charge apply?
You must pay the charge if you use the Dartford Crossing between 6am and 10pm.
Charges apply every day - including weekends and bank holidays.
Do I have to pay a toll if I plan to cross the Dartford Crossing between 10pm and 6am?
No, you will not need to pay. The toll is only applied to those crossing the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing between 6am and 10pm.
How much is the Dartford Crossing charge?
The amount that you have to pay for the Dartford Crossing depends on your vehicle.
We’ve outlined the current Dart Charge fees below.
- Cars: £2.50
- Two-axle goods vehicles: £3.00
- Multi-axle goods vehicles: £6.00
- Motorcycles: Free
Dart Charge account
For those who use the Dartford crossing on a regular basis, it is worth setting up a pre-paid Dart Charge account, which would result in the following reduced crossing fees:
- Cars: £2.00
- Two-axle goods vehicles: £2.63
- Multi-axle goods vehicles: £5.19
- Motorcycles: Free
What are the criteria of a pre-paid Dart Charge account?
- Minimum initial payment of £10 is required.
- Can pay automatically from account.
- Save on every crossing.
- Suitable for frequent users.
- Must use crossing at least once a year or account will be closed.
Pay as you go Dart Charge Account
Even if you do not use the Dartford Crossing on a regular basis, it is still possible to set up an account to enable Dartford Crossing autopay.
Benefits of a pay as you go Dart Charge account:
- Pay the Dartford Crossing charge automatically from credit or debit card/must have active payment card.
- Email can be sent upon payment.
- No initial payment.
- Suitable for occasional users.
Unlike a pre-paid Dart Charge account, with a pay as you go Dart Charge account there is no discount on the Dartford Crossing charge.
However, as the pay as you go option allows you to automatically pay the Dart charge it does mean that you will not face a penalty charge for non-payment.
Can cyclists cross the Dartford Crossing?
Cyclists are not allowed to cross the bridge or go through the tunnel, but their bicycles can be carried by bridge transport services for free.
To arrange the transfer, simply use the telephones at each end of the crossing to contact the crossing control offices.
This service isn’t available 24 hours a day, so check it's working ahead of arrival.
How do I pay to cross the Dartford Crossing?
The easiest way to pay the Dartford Crossing charge is online.
To pay the Dart Charge online use the website: www.gov.uk/pay-dartford-crossing-charge
It is also possible to pay the Dart charge in the following ways:
- Phone - Dartford Crossing phone number: 0300 300 0120
- Textphone: 18001 0300 300 0120
- A shop with a Payzone terminal. Find your nearest by visiting payzone.co.uk.
- By post in advance to: Dart Charge, PO Box 842, Leeds LS1 9QF
How long do I have to pay the Dartford Crossing toll?
After crossing, you have until midnight the next day to make the Dartford crossing payment.
Conversely, you can use the online service to set up a pre-paid Dart Charge account to pay up to a year in advance or a pay as you go Dart Charge account, which will automatically debt your account for the Dartford Crossing charge, each time that you use the crossing.
How much is the penalty for not paying the Dartford Crossing charge?
If you don't pay the Dartford Crossing Dart charge on time you could be faced with a £70 penalty fee.
However, the fine is reduced to £35 if paid within two weeks. But if you do not pay within 28 days, the fine goes up to £105.
This penalty system applies to each crossing, so failure to pay a two-way trip for 28+ days could result in a hefty £210 charge.
Can I appeal a Dartford crossing charge penalty notice?
If you feel you have been given a penalty notice incorrectly, you can tell Dart Charge by making a "representation". If this results in a "notice of rejection" you can appeal or pay the fine.
How to save money on the Dartford Crossing
To save money, you can set up a pre-paid Dart Charge account and save about 30% per car crossing.
Sign up here for a pre-paid Dart Charge account, with your personal details, vehicle details, and debit/credit card information. you just add £10 to start a standard account.
Dartford Crossing discount for local residents
If you live in Dartford or Thurrock, you can get a discount.
You can apply for a local resident discount for Dartford Crossing charges, either online or by post.
Simply upload or post your vehicle details; council tax bill; proof of Dartford/Thurrock address (utility bill etc.); proof your vehicle is registered in Dartford/Thurrock; debit or credit card.
With a local resident discount for the Dartford Crossing you can:
- pay £20 a year to use the Dartford Crossing as many times as you want
- pay £10 for 50 crossings, plus 20p for each additional crossing
Are disabled motorists exempt from the Dartford Crossing charge?
Any vehicle registered as being owned by a disabled person (and as such doesn’t have to pay road tax) is automatically exempt from paying the Dartford Crossing charge.
The ANPR system checks this automatically; you do not need to do anything.
If you have a blue badge but still pay road tax, you have to pay for the Dartford crossing too.
Do I have to pay congestion charge when using the Dartford Crossing?
No. The Congestion Charge applies to Central London.
Similarly, whilst the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) applies to all roads within Greater London, those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4 are included, the M25 is not included (even where it passes within the Greater London Authority boundary).
What happens if I break down when using the Dartford toll?
Dartford Crossing recovery team
Dartford has its own dedicated control room which monitors the traffic, with a team of National Highways' traffic officers, maintenance crews and vehicle recovery teams based on-site to respond to incidents quickly.
What should I do if I break down when using the Dartford toll?
If you break down whilst crossing the Dartford Bridge or using the Dartford tunnel, you should:
- Switch on your hazard warning lights
- Switch off your engine
- If you are in the tunnels and stop in the nearside lane, exit your vehicle via the nearside (left hand) door if it is safe to do so, call for help from a telephone at the emergency points located every 50 metres along the tunnel.
- If you are on the bridge and stop in the nearside lane, exit your vehicle via the nearside (left hand) door if it is safe to do so, wait behind the safety barrier.
- If it is not possible to get to the nearside lane or exit your vehicle safely, then you should stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on and await a recovery vehicle which will be sent to you from the dedicated control centre in Dartford which monitors the crossing 24/7.
Will my vehicle be recovered if I break down when using the Dartford toll?
The Dartford control room will deploy an emergency recovery vehicle as soon as your hazard lights are seen by the control room team, the area is monitored continually.
The emergency recovery team will be with the driver within circa 10 minutes and will transport the driver and vehicle, free of charge, to a place of safety from where they can make their own arrangements with their breakdown service provider.
Asides from the Dartford Crossing charge, there are charges to use some other toll roads and bridges on the UK road network.