The Channel Ports are seaports in southern England and northern France, which allow for short crossings of the English Channel. There is no formal definition, but there is a general understanding of the term. Some ferry companies divide their routes into "short" and "long" crossings. The broadest definition might be from Plymouth east to Kent and from Roscoff to Zeebrugge although a tighter definition would exclude ports west of Newhaven and Dieppe. A historic group of such ports is the Cinque Ports of south-east England, most of which have ceased to be commercial ports.
The ports vary in size and their relative importance has fluctuated during recent history. Dover has established a lead in the cross-Channel ferry routes through its geographic position and development of its facilities and hinterland. This business has been sustained despite competition from the Channel Tunnel. Other minor ports in Kent and Sussex have retained some trade but these