Electronic Charting Information

Electronic Charts, ECDIS and ECS Explained

For a comprehensive overview about electronic charts (ENC and RNC), electronic charting systems (ECDIS and ECS) and electronic chart carriage requirements under the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), we recommend you read IHO publication S-66, Facts about Electronic Charts and Carriage Requirements:

This publication is written in an easy to read “question and answer” style and answers over twenty of the most commonly asked questions about electronic charts and their use in ECDIS and ECS. It contains the following information:

Section 1: An overview of electronic charting and regulations. This section explains what an ECDIS is, what an ECS is, what constitutes an ENC, what an RNC is, what ‘RCDS’ mode on an ECDIS is and explains chart carriage requirements under SOLAS regulations
Section 2: A list of contacts for detailed information on Flag State Implementation of ECDIS.
Section 3: ECDIS training objectives.
Section 4: Technical details about ENCs and RNCs. This section explains the benefits of ENCs over paper charts, explains what a ‘SENC’ is, what a ‘RENC’ is and explains the differences between official and private (non official) electronic chart data.
Section 5: Glossary/List of Abbreviations of electronic charting terms, references and relevant IMO Safety of Navigation Circulars.

Use of Electronic Charts in Australian Waters Explained

We recommend that you read the Facts about Electronic Charts and Carriage Requirements to become familiar with electronic charting terms and concepts prior to reading the following information.

What kinds of official electronic charts are available covering Australian waters?

Official charts are those issued by, or on the authority of, a Government authorised Hydrographic Office or other relevant government institution. The Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO) is Australia’s national charting authority. It is the only authority that can publish official paper and electronic charts of the Australian Charting Area.

The AHO publishes official electronic charts covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste waters as Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC).

Which ENC services include coverage of Australian, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste waters?


The AHO distributes its ENC nationally under the ‘AusENC’ service. AusENC is sold in a range of packs at affordable prices with coverage tailored to domestic Australian operations. This service includes the full portfolio of published ENC covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste waters. For a full description of this service see the AusENC page on this website.

Other ENC services: The AHO has authorised international distribution of Australian-produced ENC via the IC-ENC distribution network and PRIMAR. These services are generally tailored to international commercial shipping by enabling ENC from multiple nations to be grouped together under a single subscription.   For more information on other ENC services, visit the IC-ENC (www.ic-enc.org) and PRIMAR (www.primar.org) websites.

How will I recognise an official ENC of Australian waters?
Firstly, use of non-official data in an IMO compliant ECDIS will result in a warning being displayed on the screen.   If the warning appears on screen, it is worth checking the coverage on screen for an area that looks different, as the area of unofficial data may not be in the immediate area surrounding your vessel.   A system with full ENC coverage for the depicted area will not display this warning.

All official ENC follow a standard naming convention using eight characters – a two letter national identifier, a single numerical ‘navigation purpose’ (scale band) identifier, then a five character file number.   National identifiers and the navigation purpose are controlled by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

The AHO, as the national hydrographic authority for Australia, has been allocated the ENC national identifier code ‘AU’.

The AHO is the Primary Charting Authority for the National Maritime Safety Authority Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority. As Primary Charting Authority the AHO publishes ENC of Papua New Guinea waters with a ‘PG’ producer code and publishes ENC of Solomon Islands waters with an ‘SB’ producer code.

Publishing Nation
(always 2 letters)

Navigation Purpose Code
(no. in range
1 to 6)

Unique File Number
(always 5 characters)




How are AusENC kept up to date?


As part of subscribing to any AusENC pack, you will automatically receive a free, fortnightly, web-based update service for the duration of your subscription. Each fortnight a report detailing how your subscribed packs have been affected by the latest round of updates will be forwarded to your registered email address.   You can then download either the latest cumulative update (recommended) or individual update from our website Product Downloads page. If a new ENC, or new edition of an existing ENC, within your subscribed pack has been published, you will automatically be sent a new permit for that ENC which provides access for the remainder of the subscription period.

Who are official electronic charts suitable for?

What are the electronic chart carriage rules and regulations in Australian waters?
SOLAS Vessels:
In Australian waters, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) sets the rules, under the Australian Navigation Act 2012, for vessels entering and operating within Australian waters. The Australian implementation of SOLAS regulations are set out in AMSA Marine Orders and AMSA Marine Notices.

If you are a SOLAS mariner and want to find out about electronic chart carriage requirements in Australian waters you should consult AMSA Marine Orders and AMSA Marine Notices at the following links:

In summary, AusENCs allow vessels navigating in Australian waters to meet chart carriage regulations under SOLAS Chapter V regulations (and AMSA) regulations provided they are kept up to date, used on an IMO compliant ECDIS with appropriate backup arrangements and the ECDIS is operated by appropriately trained and competent users.

Australian Domestic Commercial Vessels:
Australian domestic commercial vessels are required to comply with the AMSA's National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV).

AusENC will allow commercial vessels 12 metres or more in length and engaged in Australian domestic operations to meet the NSCV when used in an IMO compliant ECDIS or NSCV compliant ECS. However, it is good practice to carry appropriate nautical charts on vessels less than 12m in length when operating outside port and harbour limits.

For more information about carriage requirements, refer to NSCV Section B on area and vessel types and Part C, Subsection 7C regarding navigation equipment at: www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/regulations-and-standards-vessels/national-standard-commercial-vessels.

Recreational Vessels:
AusENC, when kept up-to-date, will allow recreational vessels to meet Australian state and territory electronic chart regulations.

For chart carriage requirements in your Australian state or territory, follow the links in the table below:


Interstate Marine Authorities


Maritime Safety Queensland

New South Wales

NSW Roads and Maritime Services


Transport Safety Victoria

South Australia

Marine Safety SA


Marine and Safety Tasmania

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Government

What are the system requirements to use AusENC?
AusENC are protected under the IHO S-63 data protection scheme. To use AusENC you will need a navigation system that is “IHO S-63 compatible”.

When ordering an AusENC subscription it is essential to supply an ‘S-63 User Permit’ for the IHO S-63 compatible viewing system to be used. These can be obtained from the system manufacturer or supplier. See the IHO S-63 Original Equipment Manufacturer list for compatible viewing systems and contact details. Additionally, a working email address is required in order to receive AusENC cell permits and other service notifications.

Where do I buy AusENC?
AusENC is commercially available through AusENC distribution agents.

However, Australian port authorities may request AusENC that cover their area of port limits or areas of operation, directly from the AHO as part of data sharing arrangements. For further information, please contact the AHO Licensing Manager:

P: (02) 4223 6500
E: hydro.licensing@defence.gov.au