The Port of Dover is the cross-channel port situated in Dover, Kent, south-east England. It is the nearest English port to France, at just 34 kilometres (21 mi) away, and one of Europe's largest passenger ports, with 16 million travellers, 2.1 million lorries, 2.8 million cars and motorcycles and 86,000 coaches passing through it each year, with an annual turnover of £58.5 million a year. The port has been owned and operated by the Dover Harbour Board, a statutory corporation, since it was formed by Royal Charter in 1606 by James I. Most of the board members are appointees of the Department of Transport. The port has its own private police force, the Port of Dover Police. The Harbour is divided into two sections, the Eastern Docks and the Western Docks, about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) apart.
Ferry services' passenger numbers have been adversely affected by the opening of the Eurotunnel service through the Channel Tunnel in 1994. There are three ferry services to France operating from the nine docks and associated departure buildings of the Eastern Docks:
- P&O Ferries: 6 ships in service. Up to 29 ferries daily to Calais.
- DFDS Seaways: 3 ships in service. Up to 12 ferries daily to Dunkirk.
- DFDS Seaways/LD Lines: 2 ships in service. Up to 10 ferries daily to Calais.
- MyFerryLink: 2 ships in service. Up to 16 ferries daily to Calais.
The eastern docks also used to be served by the now liquidated Sea France which had 4 ships in service. It previously had up to 20 ferries daily to Calais. The adjacent freight terminal (with three loading cranes) can be used by a ship of up to 180 metres (590 ft).
This part of the Port is formed by the western arm of the harbour, Admiralty Pier, and its associated port facilities. It was initially used as a terminal for the Golden Arrow and other cross-channel train services (with its own railway station, Dover Marine, later renamed Dover Western Docks) – it was here that the Unknown Warrior was landed. The railway station closed in 1994. The Western Docks were also used from 1968 to the early 2000s for a cross-channel hovercraft service run by Hoverspeed. Hoverspeed also ran catamaran services until being declared bankrupt in 2005. Another catamaran service ran from 2004 until November 2008 run by the single ship of SpeedFerries, SpeedOne, with up to five services daily to Boulogne-sur-Mer. The Hoverport has now been demolished for re-development. The railway station, with its platforms filled in to create a roofed car park and new buildings added, re-opened as the Dover Cruise Terminal in the 1990s. It can accommodate up to three cruise ships at a time. In the north Docks, between the cruise terminal and the former Hoverport is the entrance to a boating harbour.