The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have released a Marine Information Note (MIN) advising the industry on counterfeit nautical charts and publications after becoming increasingly aware of an increase in the number that are being produced and sold around the world. The note is not just limited to United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) products, but also includes publications of other authorities, such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

This is important because counterfeit documents do not satisfy the requirements stipulated by the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as they have not been issued by a government body. “Their use also fails to satisfy UK flag and Port State Control requirements,” the note explains. “The use of counterfeit charts and publications may introduce serious risks to safety of navigation. Furthermore, carriage of counterfeit documents is against the law in all countries that have signed the Berne Convention on protection of intellectual property copyright, which includes a vast majority of maritime administrations.”

The MCA is currently urging all purchasers, users, Port State Control inspectors and Flag State surveyors to be vigilant towards counterfeit nautical charts and publications. Because counterfeit versions have not been through the same rigorous checking procedures as official charts and publications, they cannot be trusted for voyage planning or navigational purposes, or as a trustworthy source of guidance on regulatory requirements.

“The UKHO charts bear the Admiralty ‘Flying A’ watermark within the paper and will carry a ‘thumb label’ strip on the reverse with the Admiralty logo, chart number, geographical area, barcode and date,” the note advises. “Suspect charts and publications can also be identified by comparing them against official versions, where variations may be spotted in the look, feel and weight of the product, the colour tone and strength of the ink, the folds on charts and the height and binding quality of publications.”

On the left, a counterfeit product and on the right, an official Admiralty publication. Courtesy of the UKHO.

A simple guide to help distinguish the official UKHO nautical charts and publications from possible counterfeit versions can be downloaded by copying and pasting this link: Likewise, information from the IMO regarding counterfeit copies of publications is available below which include pictures and physical details, which may be used to identify some of the publications, can be read here.

The full MIN 487 (M+F) can be read here.

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