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Pilotage service and compulsory pilotage in Svalbard

As of 1st July 2012 rules and regulations on pilotage were made applicable to Svalbard, thus introducing the state pilotage service, compulsory pilotage and PEC on Svalbard.

This follows from the regulations 12th March 2021 relating to ports and fairways on Svalbard

Who are subject to compulsory pilotage?

The same rules apply on Svalbard as for mainland Norway.  I.e. vessels with at length of 70 meters or more and passenger vessels with a length of 50 meters or more are subject to compulsory pilotage when sailing in Svalbard internal waters. For vessels carrying dangerous cargo the length limits are shorter. See the Regulations on compulsory pilotage § 3 for the complete list of vessels subject to compulsory pilotage and exempt vessels.


The vessels listed in the compulsory pilotage regulations § 3 are subject to compulsory pilotage when navigating in Svalbard internal waters, i.e. on the landward side of the baselines (see map for illustration). However, specific areas in Bellsund and Isfjorden leading in to the pilot embarkations points off Akselsundet, Barentsburg and Longyearbyen are  exempt, allowing vessels in transit to and from the pilot boarding area to approach the boarding area without having a pilot on board (see link to the right). The pilot boarding areas and exempt areas are set out in the regulations relating to ports and fairways on Svalbard § 3 d) and defined geographically in annex 1 to the regulations.

The regulations on compulsory pilotage do not apply to Bjørnøya. The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) is, however, empowered to require a vessel to use a pilot for a specific voyage, by individual decision.

Pilot or PEC

Vessels subject to compulsory pilotage as described above must, in accordance with the compulsory pilotage regulations § 4 either use a pilot or hold a PEC when navigating in Svalbard internal waters. A PEC may only be used by vessels with an all over length less than 150 meters.


A PEC is issued to captains/navigators that have experience from sailing in the fairways or areas covered by the PEC, after concluding a PEC examination. For more information about PEC and cadet PEC, see link to the right.

Applicants for a PEC must meet the requirements of experience as set out in the compulsory pilotage regulations § 11 paragraph (2), as adjusted by the regulations relating to ports and fairways on Svalbard § 3 d) numbers 3 and 4. An applicant for PEC on Svalbard must, in addition to holding a valid deck officer certificate, have:

  1. at least one year’s effective service as a duty navigator in Svalbard waters, where the sailing area includes the fairways or areas s that the applied-for pilot exemption certificate concerns. Up to 10 months of effective service as a duty navigator in polar waters may be counted, or:
  2. completed the midshipman pilot exemption certificate programme for Svalbard, or:
  3. been responsible over the last two seasons for the navigation on at least five voyages each way in the fairways or areas that the applied-for pilot exemption certificate concerns. Instead of five voyages each way, the requirement for vessels that are not in regular service may rather be that the applicant has served as duty navigator on three representative voyages in the areas that the applied-for pilot exemption certificate concerns, where the duration of each voyage is at least one week. These voyages must have been carried out with the vessel(s) that the applied for pilot exemption certificate concerns, or an equivalent vessel.

A PEC examination must be passed in order to obtain a pilot exemption certificate. The examination includes theoretical and practical aspects and is carried out on board. A NCA pilot will conduct the examination and evaluate the candidate's effort. The theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are tested during the PEC examination are set out in the compulsory pilotage regulations § 13. In addition the applicant for a pilot exemption certificate for Svalbard waters shall demonstrate sufficient knowledge of ice navigation and the weather conditions on Svalbard, and skills in ice navigation. This follows from the regulations relating to the pilotage service on Svalbard § 3 d) no 5.

For more information on how to get a PEC and application forms, see link to the right. The evaluation form used by the pilot is also available here.


The pilotage fees consist of the pilotage readiness fee, pilotage service fee and pilot exemption certificate fee, in accordance with the regulations on pilotage fees. Vessels must pay pilotage readiness fee when they become subject to compulsory pilotage in accordance with the transitional measures.

The rates of fees are the same for Svalbard as on mainland Norway. For more information and rates, see link to the right.

While the rates of fees are similar to mainland Norway, 4 specific adjustments to how the fees are calculated are given in the regulations relating to ports and fairways on Svalbard § 3 e):

  1. According to the main rule of § 8 pilotage readiness fees for single voyages are payable when crossing the borders into and out of waters subject to fees (crossing the baseline). However, multiple crossings of the baseline shall not generate additional fees when crossing the baseline is part of a natural voyage along the coast of Svalbard. This includes voyages to Kvitøya, Kong Karls Land and Hopen.
  2. There are no additional pilotage readiness fees for voyages between the Norwegian mainland and Svalbard, when such voyage is nonstop and without calling on a foreign port.
  3. When calculating the annual pilotage readiness fee in accordance with § 9 the year shall be counted from May until October for vessels that solely sail in waters subject to fee during the sailing season on Svalbard. Such vessels shall pay the pilotage readiness fee as an annual fee when they during one sailing season operate for more than 2 months in total in waters subject to fees or between ports on Svalbard.
  4. According to § 12 a pilotage fee is payable for all hours where a vessels has a pilot on board, independent of the hours of active pilotage carried out. However, the number of hours to be paid for shall be reduces with up to 12 hours per day when having a pilot aboard during a coastal voyage on Svalbard, ensuring however that all hours of active pilot service in waters subject to compulsory pilotage shall be paid for.

Practical information

The NCA is responsible for the pilotage service on Svalbard, in the same way as on the mainland. The pilotage service on Svalbard is organized under the Troms and Finnmark pilot master administration.

The NCA will have pilots in both Longyearbyen and on Svea, subject to need. The pilots of Longyearbyen cover vessel traffic to both Barentsburg, Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund, including the long distance cruise ships. Vessels arriving in and leaving Svalbard must embark/disembark the pilot at one of the pilot embarkation points. Vessels already in port and vessels with a pilot already on board can embark/disembark the pilot in port.

Ordering a pilot/pilot dispatch services

Pilot dispatch services are carried out from the dispatch service in Lødingen. As on the mainland, the vessel or agent must register in Safe Sea Net, notify the voyage and book pilots electronically. For more information on how to book a pilot, user manual for Safe Sea Net and contact information for the pilot dispatch service, se links to the left. To book a pilot there is a 24h prenotification requirement. However, due to the extra logistical challenges of Svalbard we kindly ask for prenotifications to be made as early as possible.



Henning Osnes Teigene /
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