This work investigates the current transport across two-dimensional PhCs dry etched into InP-based low-index-contrast vertical structures using Ar/Cl2 chemically assisted ion beam etching. The electrical conduction through the PhC field is influenced by the surface potential at the hole sidewalls, which is modified by dry etching. The measured current-voltage (I-V) characteristics are linear before but show a current saturation at higher voltages. This behaviour is confirmed by simulations performed by ISE-TCAD software. We investigate the dependence of the conductance of the PhC area as a function of the geometry of the photonic crystal as well as the material parameters. By comparing the experimental and simulated conductance of the PhC, we deduce that the Fermi level is pinned at 0.1 eV below the conduction band edge. The method presented here can be used for evaluating etching processes and surface passivation methods. It is also applicable for other material systems and sheds new light on current driven PhC tuning.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.