International sea ports ranked by passenger movements in the United Kingdom (UK) 2018

Dover was the busiest international port in the United Kingdom in 2018, recording close to 11.8 million passenger movements on short sea routes at the south-eastern ferry port. As the UK harbor closest to the European mainland, it is unsurprising that Dover has become the country’s principal sea port. This was despite a decline in passenger numbers in the past fifteen years.

 Dover – Calais busiest travel route

The most common sea travel route was between Dover and Calais, which accounted for roughly 78 percent of all passenger movement to and from the English ferry port. This was followed by travel between Dover and another French location, Dunkirk.

Channel Tunnel usage becoming more popular

The number of passengers using short sea routes for travelling internationally declined with the introduction of the Channel Tunnel in 1994. Tunnel usage overtook travel via ferry in three different instances in the past six years.

International ports with the greatest number of passenger movements in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2018 (in 1,000s)*

Passenger movements in thousands
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Release date

October 2019


United Kingdom

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

* Roll-on/roll-off ferry passengers on short sea routes.

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Statistics on "Maritime ports in the United Kingdom"

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