The general rule is that all vessels with a length of 70 metres or more are subject to compulsory pilotage when operating in waters within the baselines. Certain areas are nevertheless exempt from compulsory pilotage for vessels in transit to or from the pilot boarding area. For certain categories of vessels stricter rules apply, such as passenger vessels and vessels carrying dangerous and polluting cargo.
The compulsory pilotage requirement can be met by either employing a pilot or by use of a Pilot Exemption Certificate.
The vessels that are subject to compulsory pilotage are defined in § 3 paragraph (1) of the Compulsory Pilotage Regulations. Exempt vessels are defined in § 3 paragraph (2).
The geographical area of compulsory pilotage is defined in § 4 paragraph (1) and certain areas within the baselines that are exempt for vessels in transit to and from the pilot boarding ares are defined i § 4 paragraph (2) and the corresponding Annex 1.
A specific exemption from the compulsory pilotage requirement is described in § 6, whereby short relocations within a harbour that are deemed to be safe are exempt from the requirement to use a pilot. It is a prerequisit for the exemption that the master of the vessel skall be able to see and assess the conditions on the dock that the vessel is to be moved to from the command bridge, and there shall be no crossing traffic during the move. For relocations up to half a nautical mile the requirement to be able to see does not apply, if the conditions at the place to which the vessel is to be relocated can be otherwise assessed in a satisfactory way.
Procedures for pilot boarding are described in § 5 and the pilot boarding areas are geographically defined in Annex 2 to the regulations.
In certain cases, the Norwegian Coastal Administration may decide to make the use of a pilot compulsory for a specific sailing, even outside the baselines. The Norwegian Coastal Administration may also grant dispensation from compulsory pilotage for an individual voyage.
Dispensation may be granted if there is or will be a shortage of pilots and safety considerations indicate that dispensation may be granted, or in other cases where it is unreasonable to order a vessel to use a pilot and granting dispensation is clearly justifiable on grounds of safety.
Dispensation requests must be carried out in the ship reporting system SafeSeaNet Norway. After having completed a pilot order in the ship reporting system, it is possible to request dispensation (exemption) from using a pilot. Dispensation may be granted if all the abovementioned criteria is met.