Aus Paper Charts
The Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO) publishes and updates approximately 500 official paper nautical charts.
Coverage includes Australian, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Australian Antarctic Territory waters published as 'Aus' charts and Solomon Islands waters published as 'SLB' charts. For details, visit our Australian Chart Index 'online catalogue' or refer to our paper index charts, Aus 5000, Aus 5001 and SLB 1001, which are available from AHO Distribution Agents.
Selected AHO published paper charts are reproduced by the UK Hydrographic Office in their world-wide Admiralty chart series. AHO published charts within the Admiralty chart series are easily identified by their 'Aus' and 'SLB' chart numbers.
The AHO has been publishing paper nautical charts since 1942. They are relied upon and trusted by Australian and international commercial vessels, recreational vessels and the Royal Australian Navy.
Aus charts are official paper nautical charts published by the Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO), Australia's national charting authority. Aus charts allow:
- Vessels navigating in Australia to meet SOLAS Chapter V regulations (and AMSA regulations1) covering the carriage of charts and publications. For further details visit the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website (www.amsa.gov.au).
- Commercial vessels 12 metres or more in length and engaged in Australian domestic operations, to meet the National Standards for Commercial Vessels (NSCV). For further details visit the AMSA website (www.amsa.gov.au).
- Recreational vessels to sail both inshore and offshore.
Note 1: See AMSA Marine Orders Part 27 (Safety of navigation and radio equipment) 2016, which details carriage requirements for nautical charts and publications necessary for the intended voyage.
For more information about the use of paper charts in Australian waters, see Paper Charting Information.
AHO distribution agents sell AUS and SLB charts as single charts.
Australian Indexes of paper nautical charts are available in paper form and as an interactive on-line catalogue.
The paper indexes are published annually in January in two sheets as follows:
- Aus 5000 – Australian Index of Nautical Charts – Northern Sheet.
- Aus 5001 - Australian Index of Nautical Charts – Southern Sheet.
- SLB 1001 - Solomon Islands Index of Nautical Charts – SLB 1001.
The online catalogue, known as the Australian Chart Index, contains information up-to-date to the latest published Australian Notices to Mariners Edition.
The UK Hydrographic Office's (UKHO) Charts and Publications Catalogue also lists the 'Aus' and 'SLB' charts reproduced and included in the world-wide Admiralty chart series. Aus and SLB charts included provide coverage of major shipping routes and commercial ports. Aus and SLB charts which are not reproduced by the UKHO are not listed in their catalogue (but the limits are shown on the face of their reproductions). When using the UKHO catalogue, you should be aware that a more appropriate Aus and SLB charts at a large scale may be available from an AHO distribution agent.
It is extremely important that all chart users keep their paper charts up-to-date for the latest safety-critical information. It is necessary to meet chart carriage regulations and to keep your vessel and all onboard safe.
Australian published paper nautical charts are updated via fortnightly Australian Notices to Mariners (NtM) Editions. However, in extreme circumstances an Austcoast warning may be issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
Austcoast warnings are broadcast to mariners operating within Australian waters by AMSA across the Coast Radio Network, when new safety-critical information is too urgent to wait until the next fortnightly Australian NtM edition release.
Paper charts are also updated by incorporating all the changes in a new edition. These are produced when substantial new survey or other information is received of a size too large to promulgate via Permanent Notice or a Block update.
Comprehensive instructions on how to update paper charts for NtM updates can be found in the free Australian Chart & Publication Maintenance Handbook, also published by the AHO on this website. Less detailed instructions are also available in the Guide to Updating Nautical Charts fact sheet.
Please see our Pricing page.
Discounted prices for Australian published nautical paper charts are available to students enrolled in courses offered by maritime training institutions and to volunteer marine rescue organisations.
Where to Buy
Australian published paper nautical charts are commercially available through chart Distribution Agents.
What do all the symbols on a paper chart mean?
If you are unfamiliar with chart symbols you should refer to the following publication: INT 1 Symbols Abbreviations Terms used on Charts. Several nations produce versions of this publication but the one most commonly used in Australian waters is British Admiralty publication NP5011 (INT1) Symbols, Abbreviations used on Admiralty charts (available from British Admiralty distributors).
Quick guides to common symbols on charts can be found in the Mariner's Handbook for Australian Waters (AHP20), Australian Chart and Publications Maintenance Handbook and the Understanding Chart Symbology fact sheet.
Are there chart symbols that are not explained in INT1?
Yes, there are a few symbols used on Australian paper charts that are generally not included in versions of INT 1. These are listed in the Australian Chart and Publication Maintenance Handbook (AHP24).
What other publications should I carry when using Australian paper charts?
What you should carry will depend on the regulations you need to comply to. However, a list of publications that support navigation using Australian paper charts are listed in the Chart Related Information section of this website.
How can I tell how up to date my chart is?
Refer to the Guide to Updating Nautical Charts fact sheet.
Accuracy and Reliability of Charts
All charts whether paper or electronic, contain data which varies in quality due to the age and accuracy of the individual hydrographic surveys that the data is founded upon.
Zones of Confidence (ZOC) Diagrams are depicted on all Australian published nautical paper charts to warn mariners which parts of the chart are based on good or poor information and which areas should be navigated with caution. The ZOC system consists of five quality categories for assessed data (ZOC A1, A2, B, C, D) with a six category for data which has not been assessed for accuracy (ZOC U). Mariners should acquaint themselves with the meaning of these categories before heading into unfamiliar waters.
To summarise the categories, mariners should be able to navigate with confidence in areas with ZOC A1 and A2 classifications. It is also unlikely that an uncharted danger exists in ZOC B areas. In ZOC C areas mariners should exercise a degree of caution since hazardous uncharted features may be expected, particularly in reef and rocky areas. More caution is required for areas with upright or approximate soundings than for italic soundings. ZOC D contains very sparse data and may not have been surveyed at all therefore mariners should enter with extreme caution. It is good practise for mariners to treat ZOC U areas with the same degree of extreme caution as ZOC D areas.