If you drive for a living and work in the UK’s southeast, you’ll probably be familiar with the Dartford Crossing. In which case you may also be well aware of the Dart Charge pay.
But how much do you know about paying the Dart Charge, saving money on your Dart Charge payments, and avoiding having to pay Dart Charge fines?
To keep you one step ahead, we’ve put together a definitive guide on everything you need to know about Dart Charge pay methods so you can sidestep those costly punishments.
Related read: A drivers guide to TFL congestion charge
What is the Dart Charge Pay?
The Dart Charge pay was introduced in 2014 after toll booths on the Dartford Crossing were demolished. The tolls had been introduced in 1960, originally costing two shillings and sixpence (around 12.5 pence).
The idea was that by getting rid of the physical barriers, traffic would run faster and congestion would be eased. In this respect, introducing the Dart Charge payment has had some success. Peak journey times are estimated to be around 15 minutes faster. But the crossing is still very busy, carrying around 160,000 vehicles a day. This is an ongoing problem, as the Dartford Crossing was only designed to carry 136,000 vehicles a day.
Who pays the Dart Charge?
Everyone travelling between Essex and Kent via the Dartford Crossing has to pay the Dart Charge. That means whether you’re crossing the Thames via the Dartford Tunnel (northbound) or Queen Elizabeth II Bridge (southbound) you need to pay the Dartford Crossing Charge. HGV drivers, van drivers, and car drivers all have to pay. The only exception is motorcyclists.
How do I set up a Dart Charge account?
The easiest way to pay the Dart Charge is by setting up a pre-pay account before making a journey. To do this you will need to register your personal or business details, vehicle details, and debit or credit card details.
You need to pay a minimum of £10 into your account before you can use it and the account can only be used for journeys you plan to make in the future – it cannot be used for crossings you have already made.
For more information and to set up your personal or business pre-pay Dart Charge account, go to the gov.uk website.
How much does the Dart Charge cost?
Dart Crossing Charges are monitored via an automatic number plate recognition system. This registers every vehicle that makes the crossing and payment of the Dart Charge are based on the vehicle you are driving.
The charges are as follows:
Vehicle type Without account With an account
Motorbikes and mopeds Free Free
Cars £2.50 £2.00
Two-axle goods vehicles £3.00 £2.63
Multi-axle goods vehicles £6.00 £5.19
What are the different ways to pay the Dart Charge?
The Dartford Crossing pay method is not dissimilar to the payment of London’s congestion charge. Cameras are used to identify which vehicles need to pay and payments can be made in advance or by midnight the day after you have made the journey.
Dart Charge payments can be made in a number of ways, including:
– Online: Visit Pay the Dartford Crossing charge (Dart Charge) to make a one-off payment or to set up an account
– By phone: Call 0300 300 0120 every day between 8 am and 8 pm to pay for a journey or set up an account
– By Payzone: Find your nearest Payzone store and pay with cash for a journey
– By post: Set up an account, top-up your account, or make one-off advanced payments by writing to Dart Charge Customer Services, PO Box 842, Leeds, LS1 9QF
Does the Dart Charge always have to be paid?
If you’re using the Dartford Crossing between 6 am and 10 pm, you must pay the Dart Charge. However, the crossing is free to use between 10 pm and 6 am.
What happens if the Dartford Crossing Charge is not paid?
As you approach the Dartford Crossing there are numerous signs reminding you to pay the Dart Charge. However, if you do forget, the automatic number plate recognition system will identify your vehicle and you will be issued with a fine.
And be warned: the charges are high.
As with most traffic offence charges, the longer you take to pay, the more the fine increases. For example, the standard fine is £70, but if you pay it within 14 days, it is reduced to £35. Take more than 28 days to pay and you’ll find the amount increases to £105.
That means, in a worst-case scenario with a Dartford Charge pay fine, a return trip could cost you up to £210.
Do Dart Charge accounts always remain active?
If a Dart Charge account is not used for one year, it is automatically closed. This happened to a number of accounts after months of Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions caused many accounts to lay dormant. Usually, you are not able to request an account remain open, but Highways England made an exception as a result of the disruption caused by the pandemic.
You can check if your account is still active by calling customer services on 0300 300 0120.
How do you make a complaint?
If you want to make a complaint about your Dart Charge payment or challenge a penalty charge notice you can complete an online form on the gov.uk website.
Will the Dart Charge always exist?
Over the years, protests against paying the Dartford Crossing toll charges have fallen on deaf ears. The government justifies payment of the Dart Charge by saying the money is used to manage demand rather than cover ongoing maintenance and infrastructure costs.
It is likely the Dartford toll Charge is here to stay, the argument being that if it was abandoned completely, even more vehicles would use the crossing every day.
Which dart charge pay method will you use today?