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Transition to IALA Standard

In the coming years, the Norwegian Coastal Administration will be reorganizing the sectors of around 1900 sector lights in compliance with the standard defined by IALA (International Association of Lighthouse Authorities).

The video gives insight into the background for the transition from the Norwegian-specific standard to the international IALA standard. Published



Frequently asked questions about the IALA Standard

  • Who/what is IALA?

    The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1957 to collect and provide nautical expertise between members. IALA facilitates the member states to work together to achieve the most harmonized maritime system worldwide. Norway, represented by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, contributes actively in this cooperation.

    Read more about IALA here

  • What is the IALA standard on sector lights?

    IALA has made a recommendation on how the sectors of a sector light should be organized in order to be intuitive and predictable (IALA Guideline 1041: Sector Lights, 3rd ed.). The Norwegian Coastal Administration has decided to apply to this recommendation and will begin changing the sectors in Norwegian waters during 2019. The work is expected to be finished by the end of 2025.

    The principle for the IALA recommendation is that when mariners approach a sector light in a white sector, the sector to starboard shall be green, and the sector to port shall be red. This principle applies whatever direction the mariner is approaching from

    The illustrated map below (text in Norwegian only) shows the sectors before and after the transition of sectors to the IALA standard. The image on the left shows sectors prior to the transition, while the image on the right shows sectors after the transition. Drag the vertical bar back and forth to see the changes.

  • Who made the decision to change the sector light classification?

    The decision to transition to IALA standards was made by the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

  • Are the changes necessary?

    Yes, the usefulness of this measure has been thoroughly analysed. Cost-benefit analyses have shown that the measure is necessary.

  • When will the work begin?

    The work has already begun, but the scope of the activity will increase. The work is planned to be completed by the end of 2025.

  • Why change the sector lights?

    As we will follow the same principles that have been recommended by IALA, it will become more straightforward and intuitive for mariners to use sector lights. And mariners will require less time to study navigation charts during night-time voyages. 

    Please note, however, that it will remain important to plan your voyage well and, of course, use updated nautical charts when doing so.

  • Who can I contact to get more information about the work in general or in specific geographic areas?

    See our contact information for general enquiries

    The phone number to our switchboard is +47 33 03 48 08

    For questions relating to specific geographical areas, ask our switchboard for the following contact persons, or send an email directly to:

    • Viken, Vestfold/Telemark and Agder (southern Norway):  
    • Rogaland (Western Norway):
    • Vestland, Møre/Romsdal and Trøndelag (Central Norway):
    • Nordland:  
    • Troms og Finnmark:
  • Do the sector lights apply to any specific time of day or year?

    The sector lights are valid all year round and 24 hours a day, but their lights are only visible at night.


  • Will new markings be established, and will they look different from those we have today?

    In some cases, sector lights will be replaced to fit a newer standard, which differs from the ones we have today.

    Here is a picture of the new variant, called Litus lux

    Litus Lux,Smørsund.jpg

  • Will the sector lights differentiate between types and sizes of vessels?

    No, the sector lights will be the same regardless of location or what types or sizes of vessels will be using them. However, in some locations, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has established fairways especially for recreational crafts.

  • Will there be new rules for marine traffic?

    The rules will not change, but implementing the IALA standard on sector lights, will provide better predictability when using the sector lights at night.

  • If I have a boat or a Boating license (or higher), will the transition to IALA standards result in additional costs for me?

    No, this is a part of the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s tasks and responsibilities. Updating your own nautical charts may however incur an expense.

  • Will this result in new requirements for nautical education?

    No, but textbooks and education will include the principle of IALA standards for sector light navigation.

  • Where and when can I get news updates?

    Click here for the map service (Norwegian text only)

  • What happens if I misinterpret the new sector lights and it leads to an accident? Do I risk severe penalties?

    No, you are not at risk of strict penalties. Each individual must, however, be diligent in updating their nautical charts and planning their voyage thoroughly. The Norwegian Coastal Administration will not be liable to pay damages in the event of misinterpretation.

  • Where can I find more information?

    Information about the NCA’s transition to the IALA standard for sector lights can primarily be found on these pages. In addition, boating magazines, newspapers, and other media will write about the ongoing transition.

    The NCA also has a nautical chart service that shows changes that are upcoming as well as changes that are about to be made to nautical charts. You can find this service here (Norwegian text only).

    If you need more extensive information, please see the “Contact information” page in the left menu.

    The EFS information service (Etterretning for sjøfarende, or “Information for Seafarers”) will publish our changes on an ongoing basis, as these changes are carried out.

Planned work

The work on sector lights will be carried out in connection with already necessary and planned maintenance assignments on aids to navigation. The Norwegian Coastal Administration will therefore gradually work area by area. This means that the changes in sector lights will take place in accordance with our plans for inspection and maintenance.

Region Area Time period
Southeastern Norway Kvåsefjorden - Arendal  2021
Western Norway Sognesjøen – Fedje, inkl. Fensfjorden
og Austfjorden.

Bømlo - Stord og Tysnes
(Bømlafjorden - Selbjørnsfjorden).

Second and third quarter of 2021


Third and fourth quarter of 2021

Central Norway Frøya - Halten og fra Bjugn til Buholmsråsa First half of 2021
Nordland County Binndalen - Sandnessjøen. First half of 2021
Troms og Finnmark County Porsangerfjorden - Ingøya. Mid-2021

An map overview of the measures that are ready to be implemented in line with the transition to the IALA standard for sector lights can be found here (text in Norwegian only).

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