A misdeclaration, whether it be on purpose or by mistake, can have really negative effects on your journey. This can range from nasty unexpected charges to being unable to travel entirely. It's always best to make sure you are fully educated on the load you are carrying and vehicle you are driving to ensure minimal disruption to your job. Here are a few things to consider when booking your next ferry or Eurotunnel crossing.
When booking your vehicle onto a freight ferry or Eurotunnel crossing, you must provide accurate measurements for the length of your vehicle. There are often different price tiers for each length. It can be tempting to underestimate your measurement to get a cheaper price. However, this will quickly be picked up by the operator staff who use a range of equipment to either manually or automatically measure your vehicle. You may be charged the difference. On top of that, the next time you try and book your vehicle, regardless of what length you put in, the operator can automatically charge you for the real length of your vehicle as the details may be stored in their systems.
Essentially, you won't get away with it so it's best to get it right first time!
If you make a booking and then don't show up, you will often be charged a 'No-Show Fee' which can range anywhere from £50 to the full price of the ticket. Due to an increased number of instances where vehicles are booked on and then don't give notice that they will not be travelling, operators have to ensure that they do not end up with sailings that are half full with space that could have gone to other customers. This can obviously become very expensive for you. It is always best to let the booking company (Freightlink) or operator know if you are not going to be travelling as planned to avoid any fines.
Either misdeclaring or not declaring that you are carrying hazardous (or dangerous) goods (ADR) at all can cause you issues when checking in. Many operators have begun to introduce charges if you arrive at the port with undeclared hazardous goods and the relevant paperwork.
If you travelled out with hazardous goods, they were used and you then travelled back with the cannisters or containers, that is still classed as having hazardous goods, unless you get them professionally cleaned and you have proof of this. For obvious reasons, it is very dangerous for you and everyone on board the ferry or Eurotunnel shuttle to attempt to travel with hazardous goods that are unknown to the operator. It can also be potentially damaging to the reputation of your company as you will be more closely monitored in the future.
Declaring your vehicle as being empty when it isn't to avoid port charges will not work out in the long run. If you are caught you will not be fined but you will be charged for having a laden vehicle. There is sometimes a level of confusion around what is meant by 'empty'. We can confirm that to most operators, 'empty' means completely empty, i.e. having literally nothing in the back of your vehicle. Even if it's just empty canisters, your work tools or packaging from another load,it's still classed as 'not empty'. To avoid semantics, you are charged as a laden vehicle if it is anything but completely bare.
When planning to travel with animals it is always best to contact the operator beforehand to ensure that your pet or livestock is allowed to travel with them. The rules can vary massively between operators and is heavily dependant on their capacity and the length of the journey being taken. On many shorter journeys of around 2 hours, dogs are often allowed on board and can stay in your cab during the journey. On much longer journeys however, it is illegal to leave your animal alone for that length of time. You cannot enter the ferry garage or freight shuttle carriage during the journey therefore you are not able to check on your pet. On longer journeys, some operators may allow you to rent a kennel onboard, but these are in short supply and are often over-subscribed. For livestock (such as horses), additional paperwork is required and if this is not in your possession you will be unable to board.
If you need any clarification about potential misdeclarations, contact our customer service team who will be happy to help.