The withdrawal of Admiralty paper charts is to be delayed until at least 2030 to allow for the development of digital alternatives

Admiralty paper charts will now continue to be produced until at least 2030.

The timetable for the withdrawal of paper ADMIRALTY Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts has been delayed in response to user feedback.

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) announced in July 2022 that is was stopping the production of Admiralty paper charts and Notices to Mariners by late 2026 in order to focus on its digital navigation products and services.

At the time, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said electronic charts and display systems, like chartplotters, would be approved for recreational use before the end of this time scale.

A chart on a chart plotter

A lack of regulation in the UK leisure digital chart market means that there is no uniformity, with providers using their own colour palettes and symbols

Currently, only Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), which are used by large commercial shipping, comply with International Maritime Organization regulations as an alternative to paper nautical charts.

MCA coded vessels, such as charter or sailing school boats, are legally required to carry paper charts as back up. Small commercial vessels, like fishing boats, are too small to carry ECDIS but also need access to official UK charts.

The Royal Institute of Navigation raised concerns about the timescale for the withdrawal of Admiralty paper charts due to the lack of MCA/UKHO approved electronic charts and display systems,

It highlighted that the end of 2026 was a ‘very tight timetable’ for an agreement of an approved digital alternative to paper charts, and for manufacturers to have updated charts and display systems, especially as an new regulations for sub-Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems for smaller vessels would need to be accepted internationally.

The institute also said there was a lack of regulation in the UK leisure chart market which meant there was no uniformity on digital charts.

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UKHO has said it has now ‘become clear that more time is to address the needs of those specific users who do not yet have viable alternatives to paper chart products, so we will continue to provide a paper chart service until at least 2030.’

Commenting on the announcement, the UKHO chief executive, Peter Sparkes said: ‘As we further develop digital navigation solutions, our long-term intention to withdraw from paper chart production remains unchanged and we will continue to withdraw elements of our chart portfolio over the coming period, on a case-by-case basis.

An Imray paper chart of Wells next the sea

Imray has confirmed it will continue to print paper charts

‘However, having listened to the feedback we have received and in light of the consequential impact of the international technical and regulatory steps required to develop digital alternatives, we will be extending the overall timetable for this process.

‘Please be assured that the elements of our paper chart portfolio necessary to support safe navigation for our customers will be maintained throughout this transitional period as we increase our focus on digital navigation products and services.

‘Listening and responding to our customers and partners is at the core of our approach and we are committed to ensuring no party is left behind in the digital transition. We will be working with our international colleagues and partners, including through the IMO (International Maritime Organization) and the IHO (International Hydrographic Organization), to move forward at an appropriate pace together.’

Enjoyed reading Withdrawal of Admiralty paper charts delayed until 2030?

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