The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has announced it will stop producing Admiralty paper charts by late 2026 to increase its focus on its digital navigation products and services

Admiralty paper charts will no longer be produced after late 2026.

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) said its plan to withdraw paper Admiralty Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts are in response to more marine, naval and leisure users primarily using digital products and services for navigation.

The phased withdrawal of paper charts from production will take place over a number of years and is anticipated to conclude in late 2026.

The UKHO will develop digital alternatives for sectors still using paper charts, in consultation with customers and stakeholders, including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as well as other regulatory bodies, hydrographic offices, industry partners and distributors.

Two men using a digital handheld plotter on a yacht

The growth in digital navigation is one of the reasons the paper charts are being withdrawn

The chief executive of the UKHO Peter Sparkes said there had been a ‘rapid decline in demand for paper charts’, driven by the safety of life at sea (SOLAS)-mandated transition to Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS).

‘The decision to commence the process of withdrawing from paper chart production will allow us to increase our focus on advanced digital services that meet the needs of today’s seafarers. As we look to the future, our core purpose remains the safety of shipping operations and delivering the best possible navigation solutions to achieve that,’ he said.

‘We understand the significance of this announcement, given the distinguished history of the UKHO’s paper chart production and the trust that mariners have placed in Admiralty charts over the generations. We will support users of SNCs during the withdrawal of our paper chart portfolio and work with our distributors to help users switch to digital alternatives between now and our planned date of 2026,’ added Sparkes.

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He said there were significant benefits of moving toward digital navigation services; The Admiralty Maritime Data Solutions digital navigation portfolio can be updated in near real-time, he said.

Following the UKHO’s announcement, chart publisher Imray has stressed that it will continue to print paper charts.

‘Imray would like to make clear that we have no plans to withdraw paper charts. Our focus is the leisure and small craft sector, which has different conditions and requirements to the UKHO’s primary commercial shipping market,’ explained Lucy Wilson, the managing director of Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd.

A woman with blonde hair charting a course on a paper chart on a boat

Imray has confirmed that it will continue to print paper charts. Credit: Theo Stocker

She said there was still ‘a strong demand’ for paper charts and Imray remained the only private chart publisher to be recognised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for its chart range, which is supported by weekly Notice to Mariners. 

‘In recent years we have invested heavily in the technology which enables us to produce both print and digital charts from ENCs (supplied by the Hydrographic Offices) and we have been expanding our range of paper chart packs in response to the UKHO’s earlier decision to withdraw those. Our plan is to continue to develop our offering both paper and digital. Please continue to support our paper chart range by purchasing new editions as they become available!’ added Wilson.

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