Nautical cartography


Official nautical charts of the BSH

For the production of nautical charts, a large amount of data is entered into a central database in accordance with international standards. The presentation of the data is also specified by international standards (S-52 and S-4).

The BSH publishes nautical charts in various formats and scales for different uses. These include electronic navigational charts (ENCs), paper nautical charts, various thematic charts and charts for special purposes, such as instructional charts. As part of the international cooperation, the BSH also produces some nautical charts of the Southern Ocean. Nautical charts are the basis for planning and implementing safe navigation in maritime shipping. They also form the official basis for legal reconstruction, e.g. for maritime accident investigations.

All ENCs and paper charts are listed in our nautical product catalogue. There you can search for nautical charts either in a list or a chart view. For each nautical chart there is an illustration and further information available.

Sources and data base

The main data sources are survey data of the seabed. The results of hydrographic surveying and wreck searches carried out by the BSH and the waterway and shipping authorities are the most important basis. Other information necessary for navigation is also checked, pre-processed and stored in our internal database system. This includes, for example, data on cable or pipeline routes, the Digital Federal Waterway Chart (DBWK), topographic port plans, orthophotos and other aerial photographs, as well as legal texts, ordinances and notices of the waterway and shipping authorities on changes to navigation marks, restricted areas or construction measures.

Legal basis

Based on the legal requirements, nautical cartography is particularly concerned with the compilation and evaluation of all nautically relevant information and its presentation in nautical charts, nautical handbooks and other nautical publications. Basis for this are:

  • Federal Maritime Responsibilities Act (Seeaufgabengesetz - national)
  • IMO SOLAS Convention (international)
  • Specifications of the IHO (international)

Additional Information


Udo Cimutta
Arvid Elsner
+49 381 4563-954 +49 381 4563-957



Information and overviews about the different charts of the BSH.


Product catalogue

Further information on nautical products such as ENCs, paper charts with current corrections or sea manuals can be found in the product catalogue.

Nautical Product Catalogue