Wondering how to pay the Dart Charge? We’ll take you through everything you need to know to avoid getting bitten by penalties. Read on.
What is the Dart Charge?
The Dart Charge is the fee you pay to travel the Dartford Crossing—or, more specifically, the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing.
This is the only crossing over the Thames east of the Greater London area. It includes the Dartford tunnels under the river travelling north and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge travelling south. You have to pay the Dart Charge regardless of what direction you’re travelling in.
You must pay the Dart Charge:
- If you make use of the Dartford Crossing between 6am and 10pm (except if you drive a motorbike, moped, or quad bike, or you are exempt from UK vehicle tax because you have a disability.)
- By midnight the day after you make the crossing
While you may know this stretch of road as part of the M25 motorway route, it’s technically a trunk road of the A282, which connects Dartford in Kent with Thurrock in Essex (hence the name Dartford-Thurrock).
Initially, the idea behind the Dart Charge was that it would be used to cover the cost of building the infrastructure that made this crossing possible. However, while it was supposed to become free after that had happened, this has not been the case.
The reality is that the crossing is seeing far more demand than was initially anticipated, and it is believed that removing the toll would lead to higher traffic volumes and increased congestion.
So, for the foreseeable future, the Dart Charge is in place.
The fee you have to pay is similar to a conventional congestion charge that you would pay in other areas and is denoted by the same symbol—a white “C” in a red circle.
It’s important to note, however, that while the Dart Charge may look similar to a congestion charge, it’s actually a separate scheme and needs to be paid in a different way. (More on this below.)
We’ll take you through how much it is and how you can stay on top of your payments.
How much is the Dartford Crossing fee?
How much the Dart Charge is will depend on the type of vehicle you’re driving and whether you’re an account holder.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for:
- Class A vehicles: Motorcycles, mopeds and quad bikes
- Class B vehicles: Cars (with or without trailers), passenger vans and buses with nine seats or less
- £2.00 if you have an account
- £2.50 for a once-off payment
- Class C vehicles: Vans and small trucks with two axles
- £2.63 if you have an account
- £3.00 for a once-off payment
- Class D vehicles: Larger goods vehicles with multiple axles
- £5.19 if you have an account
- £6.00 for a once-off payment
You can also get a local resident’s discount if you pay council tax in either Dartford Borough Council or Thurrock Council as follows:
- £20.00 a year to use the crossing as many times as you want
- £10.00 for 50 crossings, and 20p for any additional crossings after that
If you get free UK vehicle tax because you have a disability, you won’t have to pay the Dart Charge. There’s no need to let the authorities know if you travel the crossing. You will be checked automatically.
How do you pay for Dartford Crossing?
Until 2014, travelling the Dart Crossing meant stopping at a toll road. All those motorists having to stop and pay the toll on such a busy thoroughfare resulted in serious congestion, however. Luckily, there are now other ways to pay.
The first thing to remember is that you must pay the Dart Charge by midnight of the day after you make the crossing to avoid penalties.
Dart Charge pay methods include:
Pre-pay: Dart Charge account
If you use the Dartford crossing frequently, having an account is a more cost-effective route. You can set up an account on the government website.
Alternatively, you can set up an account in advance of making the crossing by:
- By mail by using this form
- By phone by calling the call centre on 0300 300 0120, from 8am to 8pm every day
Once you have set up an account, you can sign in to manage it. You’ll be able to:
- Add or remove vehicles
- Update your payment method
- Monitor your account balance and usage
- Apply for a local resident discount if you live in Dartford or Thurrock
Pay as you go: one-time payments
You can make a once-off payment:
- By phone by calling the contact centre on 0300 300 0120, or texting 18001 0300 300 0120, every day from 8am to 8pm
- With cash through a Payzone store
If you are a non-UK resident, the easiest way to pay the Dartford Crossing charge is on the government website. You’ll go through the same process as a UK resident would, choosing your car’s country of registration from the drop-down menu when prompted.
What happens if I forget to pay the Dart Charge?
If you don’t pay on time, you’ll be issued a penalty charge notice (PCN). This will happen even if you pay the crossing fee after the midnight-the-next-day cut-off.
How much is Dartford Crossing PCN?
The fine is £70 and must be paid within 28 days, along with the Dart Charge you owe.
Paying earlier or later than that will have a bearing on the amount you pay as follows:
- If you pay within 14 days, you can have the fine reduced to £35, and you’ll still have to pay the Dart Charge
- If you don’t pay it, the fine will be increased to £105, and you’ll still have to pay the Dart Charge
- If you don’t pay at all, the amount you owe will also be registered as a debt in the county court
How penalties are issued
A PCN will come in the post and include a penalty charge number you will need when you pay the fine. It will start with the letters “IA”, “IB” or “IK”.
How to pay a penalty or fine
The simplest way to pay a penalty charge is online through the government website. For this, you will need your penalty charge number and vehicle registration number.
Alternatively, you can:
- Call the Dart Charge contact centre on 0300 300 0120 from 8 m to 8pm
- Text the Dart Charge contact centre on 18001 0300 300 0120 from 8am to 8pm
- Pay with cash at a Payzone facility
- Pay via cheque or postal order, ensuring that you include your reference number, to:
PO Box 842
All of this information will be on your PCN.
How should I appeal a Dart Charge PCN?
If you need to contest a Dart Charge, you can make a representation against the charge. Head here to do so online.
You can also make a representation by post by filling in the form that came with your PCN. Send it to:
Dart Charge Enforcement
PO Box 842
If you have questions, contact them through the contact form on the government website or by calling the call centre on 0300 300 0120 from 8am to 10pm.
The Dartford Crossing charge was originally intended to help pay for the new infrastructure that was built to connect Dartford in Kent with Thurrock in Essex. Because it is such a busy thoroughfare, the fee has remained in place to decrease congestion on the road.
If you cross the Dartford Crossing between 6am and 10pm, you’ll need to pay the Dart Charge. The type of vehicle you have will dictate the amount you pay, which will be somewhere between £2 and £6.
The easiest way to pay the Dart Charge is online through the government website. If you use the crossing often, signing up for an account and paying in advance is more economical.
Other payment methods include mail, phone, and cash at a Payzone facility.
If you’re a local resident of either Dartford or Thurrock, you can have the Dart Charge reduced. You will be exempt from the fee if you get free UK vehicle tax because of a disability.