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UKHO warning on counterfeit charts

Publications published since October 2014 include a grey graphic showing the UKHO crest across random pages. If photocopied, the words ‘ILLEGAL COPY’ will be visible. Publications published since October 2014 include a grey graphic showing the UKHO crest across random pages. If photocopied, the words ‘ILLEGAL COPY’ will be visible.

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) says it has observed an increase in the number of counterfeit versions of ADMIRALTY charts and publications in circulation, and is re-issuing a warning over the dangers these fakes pose to the safety of vessels, crew and cargo.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The Hydrographic Office notes that these counterfeit items have not been assessed by UKHO experts, who cross check and quality assure ADMIRALTY Maritime Products & Services to ensure mariners receive up-to-date and accurate information. Information contained within counterfeit products has also not been issued officially by or on the authority of a Government, authorised Hydrographic Office or other relevant Government institution and does not satisfy the carriage requirements of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

For these reasons, counterfeit charts and publications can significantly increase safety risks posed to vessels, crew and cargo when used for navigation, UKHO says.

The Hydrographic Office also points out that carriage of counterfeit charts and publications may fail to satisfy (and may be contrary to) the laws of Flag State Authorities and Port State Control. Furthermore, carriage of counterfeit documents is against the law in all countries that have signed the Berne Convention, which includes the vast majority of countries. In those countries the authorities have the power to seize counterfeit documents.

Preventative measures are being taken to reduce the number of fakes in circulation, including a new watermark on paper charts. These have been outlined in the ‘Guide to Identifying Counterfeit ADMIRALTY Products’.

Recently updated, the guide contains visual examples and explanations to help users and inspectors to distinguish official ADMIRALTY charts and publications from counterfeit versions. The full document can be downloaded for free from:

UKHO would also like to encourage anyone with suspicions over the authenticity of their ADMIRALTY charts and publications to contact the UKHO by e-mailing

“The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office has recently observed an increase in the number of counterfeit ADMIRALTY charts and publications. While some of the counterfeits are very easy to spot, others are more difficult to detect,” said Damian Bowler, chief commercial officer, UKHO.

“The UKHO continues to urge all purchasers, users, inspectors and regulators to look out for counterfeit ADMIRALTY charts and publications. Counterfeit versions have not been through the same rigorous checking procedures as official ADMIRALTY charts and publications and cannot be trusted for voyage planning or navigational purposes. They are unsafe, unofficial, non-compliant with SOLAS and illegal to carry or sell. Buyers also carry the considerable risk of failing port state inspections.”

“We are continuing to seek and stop the production and sale of counterfeit copies of ADMIRALTY products and have raised our concerns with the International Maritime Organisation, the International Hydrographic Organisation and Flag States. We also encourage anyone that suspects they may be in possession of counterfeit products to get in touch with us.”{/mprestriction}

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