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Requirements for vessels operating in VTS areas

Use of the VTS areas is regulated by the Maritime Traffic Regulations. The regulations mainly apply to vessels of 24 metres or more.

Maritime Traffic Regulations

The purpose of the Maritime Traffic Regulations is to reduce the risk of ship accidents in Norwegian waters and to streamline traffic diversion in the service areas of the maritime traffic centres.

The Maritime Traffic Regulations, which is available on lovdata.no in Norwegian only, gives a complete overview of sailing rules and regulations.

See our unoffical translation of the Maritime Traffic Regulations 

Requirements for vessels operating in VTS areas

  • VTS areas

    In Norway, our VTS centres monitor and manage maritime traffic in geographical areas along the Norwegian coast. These areas are called VTS areas and are defined in the Maritime Traffic Regulations.

    The VTS centres are located at Horten, Brevik, Kvitsøy, Fedje and Vardø.

    See map of VTS areas

  • Communication and duty to listen

    All communication between the VTS centre and a vessel must take place in the VTS centre’s VHF channels. This also applies to communication between vessels regarding coordination of the voyage. Vessels under military command can communicate with the VTS centre by mobile phone when necessary.

    The master of the vessel or whoever is in command in his place must be able to communicate in a Scandinavian language or English if the vessel is not using a pilot.

    All vessels using a VTS area have a duty to listen to the VTS centre’s VHF channel. Vessels in a VTS area must also inform the VTS centre of any matters that may be of significance to safe passage and efficient traffic flow.

  • Obtaining clearance to use a VTS area

    Vessels must obtain clearance from the VTS centre before using the VTS area.

    The term ‘use’ includes:

    • vessels entering a VTS area;
    • vessels that are set in motion in a VTS area;
    • vessels that are anchoring;
    • vessels that want to make navigational changes in relation to what has been decided by or agreed with the VTS centre, including stops along the way.

    Requests for clearance to use a VTS area must be made via the VTS centre’s VHF channel before entering the VTS area or before leaving the quay or anchorage position in the VTS area, and must include the vessel’s international call sign, name and planned sailing route. Requests from vessels longer than 100 metres or carrying hazardous or noxious cargo must be made at least one hour before the expected time of departure.

    Vessels towing or pushing a vessel that has clearance to use the VTS area do not need their own clearance.

  • Conditions for clearance

    When necessary for ensuring safe passage and safe use of the waters, the VTS centre may set conditions for clearance, including:

    • that the voyage takes place at a specified time;
    • that a specific route must be followed;
    • that other vessels must be passed in a specific order;
    • that a specific distance must be kept from other vessels;
    • that a tugboat must be used;
    • that machinery must be ready when anchoring;
    • that the anchorage position must be vacated if strong winds are forecast.



Jeanette Hauge Assev-Lindin /
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