Are electronic charts prescribed in France ? [Update]

This question comes back to me from time to time, and as no one is supposed to ignore the law, I feel obliged to make my contribution to the edification of the crowds (boating) providing a collective response.


Manual or electronic navigation, which to choose ?

Ship Safety : Official Text

[MAJ Division 240 from 6 May 2019]

By order of 6 May 2019 replacing the decree of 23 November 1987 on ship safety (Division 240 the regulations annexed), published in the Official Journal 12 May 2019 and applicable from June 1 2019, division D240 entitled «Safety rules applicable to boating to sea on boats of length less than or equal to ". 24 metres., is replaced (¹).

Concerning the mandatory ship equipment, particularly documents relating to shipping, I putin red specific texts :

  • Article 240-2.03 Basic armament and security equipment (less 2 miles from shelter)

7. A way to know the tidal times and coefficients of the day and of the zone considered. This document is not required in the Mediterranean.

  • Article 240-2.04 Weapons materials and safety coastal (2-6 miles from shelter)

1. Basic armament and security equipment.
6. Or the charts, or extracts, official, developed from a national hydrographic service information. They cover areas of busy shipping, are placed on paper, or on electronic media and its reading device, and are maintained.
7. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), or a summary text and graphics, possibly in the form of adhesive liflets, or on electronic media and its reading device.
8. A document describing the marking system of the attended area , possibly in the form of adhesive liflets, or on electronic media and its reading device.

  • Article 240-2.05 Weapons materials and safety mid-shore (6-60 miles from shelter)

1. Security equipment for coastal shipping.
4. The equipment to make the fix, trace and follow a route.
5. The book of lights updated or available on electronic media and its playback device.
6. A logbook containing relevant elements for the monitoring of navigation and the safety of the ship.
7. A device allowing to receive on board marine weather forecast.

  • Article 240-2.06 Weapons materials and safety Offshore (+60 miles from shelter)

1. The weapons and mid-shore safety equipment provided for in article 240-2.05.


The electronic chart is, since April 2008, fully accepted, and "material to make the point., to trace and follow a road"is more clear. We can just as easily use dividers, parallel rule and handbearing compass either a chartplotter, iPhone and iPad equipped with appropriate software and charts.

Regarding documents, some articles call for remarks :

  • A way to know tide times and coefficients : this article has been updated in the navigation section within 2Nm of a shelter, without specifying the format of this "means".
  • A document describing the marking system of the attended area  and The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) : SHOM documents are no longer explicitly cited. It is in fact, respectively, general works n ° 3 and n ° 2 of SHOM. But they can also be replaced by any other equivalent work.. On the other hand, the book 1D no longer cited, yet essential for reading and understanding nautical charts (²).
  • It is precise that maps and books can be numeric, but this is not specified regarding the logbook. Can we deduce that, in the silence of the texts, it can also be digital ? I'm not so sure. Let’s not forget that the logbook is a legal document, opposable to third parties in the event of sea fortune, required by the authorities (Maritime Affairs), emergency services, and… insurers !

French regulations have gradually aligned, since the release of Division D240 in March 2008, on British philosophy of imposing a minimum navigation equipment, and let the skipper's responsibility to board safety equipment and navigation to its corresponding program. It was a sacred revolution (yet !) after undergoing, since practically the beginning of boating, a huge list of mandatory and expensive safety equipment , whose, to a large extent, no one used, and who were the fodder for French ship chandlers.

(¹) The full text in PDF is available for download through this link.
(²) For those who have called for a glossary of acronyms found on Navionics charts, among others, I remind you that these symbols are international and that a thorough reading of the book " 1D – Symbols, abbreviations and terms used on nautical charts ", allows you to read it.


7 Replies to “Are electronic cards regulatory in France ? [Update]”

  1. Hello Francis,
    This response had not escaped me…but it is that of the administration, not the legislature. This shade will surely meaningless agenda or the subject will come in judgment.
    I think that the text should be officially corrected to remove this ambiguity.
    Happy new year anyway.

  2. Thank you Francis for this didactic commentary.
    However, I found that the amendment of the first sentence of paragraph 5 Article 240-2.06, seems to me deserve the following comment:
    We've been writing: "The nautical chart (s), or extracts, official, or developed from information from a national hydrographic service "which grammatically meant that they were regulatory : "The nautical chart (s), or extracts, official, or developed… "Ie unofficial maps insofar as they were developed from official information.
    The deletion of the "or" is far from neutral: it leads to the affixing of the adjective "developed" to nautical charts and their extracts, at the same rank as "officials".
    It is either a syntax error, either a significant coaster, in this sense it is possible to read the requirement of official maps.
    To be continued…

  3. Found on the site SHOM PDF documents to download :
    COLREGS 2A = edition 1991
    COLREGS = March 2B 1993
    book 3C = April 87
    1D = book publishing 2006
    books 32 (signals) = Edition 1996
    and the very interesting paper on the flaws and the proper use of nautical documents 2004
    Although in practice an iPad, il me paraît prudent de conserver un exemplaire papier à bord car contrairement aux cartes il n’est nullement précisé le terme « électronique » dans les textes officiels concernant les documents.

    1. This is great news, actually. Discover on Site SHOM, category Digital works. The download is free, but beware, il faut faire un appui prolongé sur le lien « Ouvrages numériques », sélectionner « Ouvrir dans une nouvelle fenêtre » du menu contextuel, to read in iBooks.
      Thank you for the info.

    2. Nautical books in PDF format, with some free, and the charts are accessible via

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