The diocesan bishop is the Archbishop of Canterbury, presently Justin Welby. However, because of his roles as metropolitan bishop of the Province of Canterbury, Primate of All England and figurehead of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the archbishop (whose primary residence is at Lambeth Palace in London) is often away from the diocese. Therefore, one of his suffragan bishops, the Bishop of Dover (Trevor Wilmott), is in many ways empowered to act almost as if he were the diocesan bishop.
There was, until 2009, another suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Maidstone, but it was decided in November 2010 that no further appointments would be made to that post. Two further suffragans whose sees are located in the diocese – Ebbsfleet and Richborough – are provincial episcopal visitors with a focus more wide-ranging than the local diocese. On 4 December 2014, it was announced that the see of Maidstone would be filled again, in order to provide a further provincial episcopal visitor for particular conservative evangelical members of the Church who take a minority view on "headship".
Besides the Archbishop and the Bishop of Dover, several other men are licensed as bishops in the diocese. Alternative episcopal oversight (for parishes in the diocese who reject the ministry of priests who are women) is provided by the provincial episcopal visitor (PEV), the Bishop suffragan of Richborough, Norman Banks. Unlike most in dioceses, Banks does not need to be licensed as an honorary assistant bishop since he is a suffragan in the diocese. There are four honorary assistant bishops licensed in the diocese: