Electronic navigational charts


Advanced navigational technology makes it possible to supplement printed charts and to gradually replace them by electronic charts (ENC).
The navigation system ECDIS, approved by the IMO, in which official, standardized ENC vector charts shall always be used, will replace the system with printed charts. The Finnish Transport Agency produces nautical charts for the Finnish territorial waters.

An electronic navigational chart shall meet the following requirements in order to replace a printed chart:

  • It shall be produced by a national hydrographic office or an authorised producer
  • It shall be up to date
  • It has been produced in compliance with IHO's (International Hydrographic Organization) standard S-57.
  • It shall be used in a type-approved navigation system with adequate back-up arrangements (i.e. EDCIS equipment).

The SOLAS Convention (Safety of Life at Sea) adopted in 2009 makes it mandatory to have an electronic chart and display system (ECDIS) according to a phase-in programme from 2012 onwards.  The transitional period will last until 2018.

By the end of 2010, the Finnish Transport Agency had achieved ENC coverage of the sea areas frequented by merchant ships, including the Saimaa deep-water channel. In pursuance of this, the IMO requirement concerning Adequate ENC Coverage was met.

The current ENC coverage can best be viewed via the IHO ENC Catalogue (requires a browser that supports Java).

Distribution of ENC material
Finnish ENC Cells are distributed to the users via a centralised and protected distribution service. The protection of chart data is implemented according to IHO's standard S-63 (IHO Data Protection Scheme). The material is handled by PRIMAR, a regional ENC coordination centre maintained by several European hydrographic offices.

For more information, please visit the website of Primar www.primar.org. Here you will also find more detailed information on the  regional coverage of the ENC material. The IC-ENC (International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts), reporting to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, UKHO, is another European coordination centre, with an additional coordination centre in Australia.

Used abbreviations


International Maritime Organization: the specialized agency of the United Nations creating a regulatory framework for the shipping industry, such as The SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Convention.
ECDIS Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS): a computer-based navigation system that complies with IMO regulations and can be used as an alternative to paper navigation charts. The system uses official ENC charts.
ENC Electronic Navigational Chart. Electronic vector chart, published by a national hydrographic office which conforms to the international IHO S-57 standard and for which there is an update service available.
IHO International Hydrographic Organization: the international hydrographic organization sets the standards for hydrographic surveying and nautical charts.
IHO S-52 Special Publication No. 52: Specifications for Chart Content and Display aspects of ECDIS
IHO S-57 Special Publication No. 57: IHO Transfer Standard for Digital Hydrographic Data
IHO S-63 Special Publication No. 63: IHO Data Protection Scheme
RENC Regional ENC Coordinating Centre
Page updated 22.09.2016