Border Agency defends passport checks on France arrivals

IMMIGRATION checks locally are no different to anywhere else, the Guernsey Border Agency said yesterday.

IMMIGRATION checks locally are no different to anywhere else, the Guernsey Border Agency said yesterday.

Responding to criticism after passengers disembarking Sun­day’s Condor Vitesse sailing from St Malo faced a 45-minute queue to clear immigration, GBA branch manager Peter Knee said Guernsey was part of the common travel area, which allows passport-free travel between the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, and, as a result of coming from outside this area, everyone had to have their passport checked.

‘If someone is travelling between Guernsey and Weymouth or Gatwick, they do not need to queue or have passports checked because they are within the CTA. If travelling from outside the CTA they need clearance,’ he said.

‘If going from Calais to Dover, they would face exactly the same checks.’

Comments for: "Border Agency defends passport checks on France arrivals"


absolutely useless at border control.

I have been held up for more than an hour twice this summer. each scan takes ages. seems the UK border control have some more modern scanners. each scan takes seconds, Guernsey's takes at least a minute.

absolutely useless.


....and if these were purchased by the Border Agency there would be complaints about wasted public money no doubt.

A one hour delay to cross borders isn't the end of the world. Total non-story in my opinion.

St Marcouf

Obviously you haven't been affected by these delays for you to make a flippant comment like that.

We are not talking about tens of thousands of people of multiple nationalities arriving in the island from international destinations at the same time who have to go through passport control, we are talking about one hundred or so cars of predominantly local people arriving from St Malo.

One hour, or even half an hour as I had to wait the other day, is ridiculous - it took the local registered car in front of me about 3 to 4 minutes just to pass through.


I've crossed plenty international borders in my life St Marcouf, some of which have taken considerable time. I stand by what I've said - yes it would be a minor irritation but it isn't the end of the world. It's all a big fuss about nothing.

St Marcouf

You've missed my point entirely.


That's not true...

UK border control scanning takes seconds, but the passport is still checked by a human behind an office before you get clearance to proceed.

The scanner is, therefore, occupied until you can proceed.


And then people moan that not enough checks are done at the borders... GBA can not win.

Many times at Heathrow I have waited for ages... and also Geneva airport can be a nightmare, especially at lunch-times and on a Sunday evening.


Given the widely reported and documented lax application of UK border controlsm can we not (with less risk)apply a comparable and lighter hand on our border checks? Surely there is no need to be holier than the Pope?


I see your point Rustylink but why sink below UK mediocrity? Why not do things better?


45 mins doesn’t sound too bad. I was stuck for over an hour once coming back from Weymouth when customs were stopping for a chat with pretty much every single driver. Not sure quite what they were hoping to achieve as I was asked what I did for a living (relevance?!) and then for some ID and let on my way.

Interesting that this story comes at the same time the UK border controls are being criticised in the national press!


That's nothing, I was asked my occupation, my address, weather I've claimed benefit in the past and was asked to name some types of substances that are not allowed to be brought in! Next time i'll have an essay prepared on the boat over!

GBA fan

45 minutes is not a long time!!! I have waited twice that in some countries just to go through passport control and then there is still the Customs check!!

Well done GBA for keeping our island safe -keep up the good work.


Try Russia! 45 mins is nothing. Also perhaps it is our attempt to control naughty money etc getting in to the island (as France has decried Jersey as a `tax haven`)


I am in Russia right now. 10 minutes wait at the airport and 3 minutes at the desk and that included a Visa check. So don't tell me of long waits abroad. 45/60 minutes to get off Condor is unacceptable. if you come home from St Malo via Jersey the wait is a few minutes. Now tell me why Jersey is so much quicker than Guernsey ?

Charlie G

What a load of all the time we've been able to travel between here and France(visa versa) ,why oh why has this now come to light,have we nothing better, going on with our lives ? Out of interest ,was the ferry in its usual go slow mode?...if yes, then one can sympathise a bit with those caught up with the 45 min wait,having maybe been delayed on the does it go ,"adding insult to injury"

However,if by some miracle the ferry was on time, then i can assure those nimbies ,compared with other parts of the world,45 mins is pitance,and think yourself lucky our "gentle" GBA personel don't where guns!!!..

Most trips through to St Malo will result in " Les Douanes" carrying out checks, due to us being "endore" le EU,and you don't mess with that lot i can tell you.

There are occasions ,depending what hour and day you arrive in St Malo,when

" Les Douanes" are no where to be seen,but sensibly gone home or down the local "Bar Cafe" knocking back an apera-teef or two,good for them.

Anyone been through Australian Customs? no...try it ,make sure you aint got no fruit on you!!! My driving work frequently takes me to the south of Spain,i take advantage of trips into Gibraltar,(proper tax free shopping),well if you think 45 mins here is long in a vehicle,try waiting up to 7 hours to cross into Gibraltar and equal amounts of time to drive back through frenzied gun carrying Spanish customs!!..especaly in the present climate.As for crossing into Morocco ...thats another ball game.

Even in the Schengen ( borderless) areas of Europe,and Scandinavia,believe me you can be subject to lengthy spot checks,as you can be from here even into the UK..oh yes indeedy!

I'm no saint when it comes to waiting, but Border controls are a fact of life all over the world ,and be under no doupt things will get tighter as time goes by.

Some Islanders need to experiance the real world,to discover that our local GBA are patient gentle giants!

Out of interest visit , (See common travel area)

Bon voyage tous!


Well said Charlie G.

St Marcouf

It has only come to light now because the delays have only recently started to occur.

Before one would whizz through the passport checks, now they are taking ages, presumably because they are doing something differently and are making no effort to be quick about it.

Like PLP, you've missed the point that the border controls you are referring to are dealing with many thousands of people of varying nationalities passing through at the same time, whereas Guernsey's are dealing with just a hundred or so mainly local people.

Jersey has triple the number of passengers arriving from St Malo on each crossing yet its passport checks are quick and efficient.


You reckon 100 or so people crossing an international border with a wait of approximately 1 hour is a big deal. By my calculations that's more than one a minute, which personally I don't think is a problem. If you think it is that's fine - we'll just disagree. It's not worth getting hot under the collar about.

St Marcouf

You haven't thought this through.

On a capacity sailing of almost 750 people, one person a minute would equate to a 12 hour wait for those at the back of the queue. Even allowing a for a 50 50 split between foot and vehicle passengers there would still be a 6 hour wait.

I don't believe for one moment that you would fail to see a problem with this and that you would sit patiently and relaxed in your car waiting to have your passport checked after having already spent most of the day travelling back from France in the first place.

This certainly is a matter that is newsworthy and warrants further investigation. An example of non news is Deputy Brehaut witnessing a fire in a field in Brittany.


I was one of the passengers returning from Saint Malo last Sunday who was affected by the passport checks. For those of us unfortunate enough to be left near the back of the queue, the wait was over one hour, not 45 minutes as has been reported. It is only right that the Guernsey Border Agency should properly enforce our borders, but a couple of things frustrate me about Peter Knee’s comments.

What he does not mention is that an announcement was made on the ferry informing passengers that on this occasion, every passport would have to be scanned. On occasions when I have travelled in the past, checks have only involved an officer taking a cursory glance at the passport which can be done more quickly.

It most likely that some event or alert happened to trigger this action on this occasion and that at some point in the future, the passport controls will return to being as lax or nonexistent as they have been at times in the past, as I can’t see them keeping up this level of checks on a regular basis. To do so they would certainly need to put in place a more efficient system to allow people to be processed much more quickly.

I have also travelled between Dover and Calais on a number of occasions, both by ferry and through the tunnel, and passport control has always been quick and efficient. Never have I been subjected to a one hour wait.


Passport control between Spanish Morocco (Ceuta), all documentation of vehicles and passports to official on Moroccan side, including waiting and luckily for me, speaking French to the official, 3 hours. Quite normal, asked numerous questions, and that was reasonable, apparently!!

Mr Mint

I can sympathise with those affected.

We were third off the Condor and it still took 15 minutes.

What I cannot understand is at St Malo as you get on the ferry you are subjected to rigerous screening of your passport ,and in some cases the car contents.

I also assume the Border Agency and the French Gendarmerie are linked electronically and any dodgy characters would have been picked up in St Malo prior to boarding the ferry,so cannot see how the scanning of every passport on entry to Guernsey is necessary.

I know that the cheese eating surrender monkeys are somewhat lax on entry to their country,but they are extemely thorough on leaving it.Even down to several 6 foot plus paratroopers carrying machine guns overlooking proceedings and wishing you Bon Voyage !

The real problem impacts on Condors schedules as turnarounds take far longer.

You can bet your bottom dollar that this will be just one of the reasons for any future price hikes!!

Out of curiosity our friends returned just recently from St Malo ,(Guernsey residents),and because the queue was so long and blocking up the ramp,were asked to go out via the custom hall and come back around to have their passports checked.Priceless!!

A recent item in the Press stated that Police overtime was down on last year, now they are amalgamated with the Border Agency any

overtime payments to the Border Agency will certainly swallow up any future savings and will probably increase the Black Hole.


I travel over Europe,cross one border after another,never stopped,never have to show a passport.All cars getting off the ferry from St Malo stand in one queue wherever they come from,so all have to wait.If you are unlucky you may,like us,have dogs all over your beautifull clothes on the back seat,welcome to Guernsey!


Why are Jersey Customs and Immigration so much quicker and more efficient than ours at clearing passengers.

Also why did Guernsey Customs feel the need to copy the UK and engage in a costly rebranding to become the Guernsey Border Agency?


‘If someone is travelling between Guernsey and Weymouth or Gatwick, they do not need to queue or have passports checked because they are within the CTA. '

Very interesting Mr Knee, I will remember that quote the next time that one of your officers is demanding the production of I.D from everyone arriving at the Airport from Gatwick.