Standards and Criteria for the Issue of Pilotage Exemption Certificates

Pilotage Directions - Schedule 3

3.1 Application for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate

Bona fide Masters and First Mates of vessels to which this section applies (see schedule 1.1) may apply for and be issued with a Pilotage Exemption Certificate for the area, or specified parts of the pilotage area, subject to their fitness and qualifications both by experience and examination.


a The bona fide Master or First Mate of a ship applying for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate shall satisfy the CHA as to their experience in the pilotage area by completing the number of acts of pilotage and assessment / familiarisation acts , within the last 12 months as follows:

i) All vessels > or = 20m LOA carrying more than 12 passengers plying within the limits of the pilotage area, 24 acts of pilotage (12 round trips) minimum of which 2 acts (1 inward and 1 outward passage) will be onboard assessment acts.

ii) All vessels > or = 61m LOA and <150m and all vessels carrying LPG/LNG in bulk (i.e. in tanks which form part of the permanent structure of the vessel). 12 acts of pilotage (6 round trips) minimum of which 2 acts (1inward and 1outward passage) will be an onboard assessment acts.

iii) All vessels > or = 150m LOA in addition to the requirement of (i) and (ii) above a familiarisation trip on a vessel >220m and on a harbour tug engaged with a vessel > or = 150m

3.2 Conditions related to the examination, issue and renewal of a Pilotage Exemption Certificate 

a i) Examinations shall be held in such places and at such times as the CHA may direct. If a candidate fails the examination, a re-examination will not normally be scheduled within one month. If a candidate twice fails to pass the examination, any further examination shall be deferred for a period of at least 3 months from the date of the second examination. Practical onboard assessments of the candidate will be required in addition to the examination as follows:

Assessment trips may be undertaken with either:

  • an authorised Southampton pilot or

  • an authorised PEC holder for the vessel for which the PEC is sought.

The PEC candidate will be responsible for ensuring that the form (page 20) is completed by the assessor and is forwarded to the Harbour Office prior to the examination.

ii) The examination will be conducted by the Harbour Master or his deputy and an authorised Southampton pilot.

b Candidates for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate shall be required to produce satisfactory written evidence of medical fitness including eyesight, by a qualified medical practitioner, registered in the United Kingdom or in the country in which the vessel is registered dated within 2 years of the application.

c Candidates require a satisfactory knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, local regulations, Southampton Harbour Bye-Laws, Local Notice to Mariners and marine emergency procedures in force with respect to that part of the pilotage area for which a Pilotage Exemption Certificate is sought.

d Candidates must have visited the Operations Room of Southampton VTS Centre within the preceding 3 months prior to the examination and be familiar with the VTS procedures within the pilotage area. They must ensure the form (page 20) is signed by the Duty VTS Officer.

e Candidates must have a satisfactory working knowledge of the English language.

f Candidates must be fully conversant with Dangerous Substances in Harbour Area Regulations 1987 (where applicable).

g Certificates shall be uniquely numbered and shall include the name and description of each vessel and class or type of vessel that the certificate holder is authorised to pilot in the pilotage area.

h Certificate holders shall not allow any other person to have possession, or make improper use of the certificate.

i Certificate holders shall conform strictly to all local pilotage requirements.

j Certificates shall be renewable annually and application should be made at least 1 month in advance of the expiry date.

k Certificates shall not be renewed unless holders can satisfy the CHA of their continuing knowledge of pilotage requirements within the area.

l On application for renewal, candidates will be required to produce updated written medical and eyesight evidence at intervals specified in accordance with the normal requirements for marine officers in the country in which their vessel is registered.

m Certificates shall not be renewed unless the holder has visited the VTS Centre within the preceding the 2 years and submits a signed certificate to that effect.

n Certificates shall not be renewed after holders reach the age of 65 years, except in exceptional circumstances relative to craft plying within the limits of the pilotage area.

For further information please follow the links below:

Pilotage Directions

PEC Application Form

PEC Renewal Form

2021 Pilotage Tariff - Section 3 for PEC fee's