Pilotage Exemption Certificate (PEC)

Application by examination for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate

For a copy of the application form please click Here

All applications should be sent to the following email address for processing - southwalesPEC@abports.co.uk

Bona fide Masters and First Mates of all vessels subject to compulsory Pilotage 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 examination and by experience. The Master or First Mate of a vessel applying for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate shall satisfy the CHA as to:

 i.  Their experience in the Pilotage Area including having completed the following number of trips in the area for which the Pilotage Exemption Certificate is required, within the last 12 months:

Six inward and Six outward trips, of which at least two trips must be undertaken in hours of darkness.

ii.  For the purposes of these Directions a trip will mean an inward or outward passage of the seaward approach channel to or from the respective port and/or berth. Moves between berths will not be regarded as a trip for this purpose.

iii.  PEC’s will be endorsed for specific areas only, namely:

a) Barry Docks
b) Penarth Pier
c) Cardiff Docks
d) Swansea Pilotage Area
e) Port Talbot Pilotage Area
f) River Usk Area A Newport Docks to Powder House Point (Including Liberty Steel)

Area B Powder House Point to Transporter Bridge

Area C Transporter Bridge to New Road Bridge.

iv.  Candidates for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate shall be required to produce satisfactory written evidence of medical fitness including eyesight, by a recognised medical practitioner, dated within 2 years of the application.

v.  Candidates require satisfactory knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, local Regulations, Harbour Byelaws, local Notices to Mariners, and marine emergency procedures in force with respect of that part of the Pilotage Area for which a Pilotage Exemption Certificate is sought.

vi.  Candidates for a Pilotage Exemption Certificate shall be required to produce satisfactory evidence that berth to berth passage planning is taking place and confirm they will continue to utilise passage planning within the ABP compulsory pilotage area.

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


i.  Examinations shall be held in such places and at such times as the CHA may direct.

ii.  Certificates shall be uniquely numbered and will include the name and description of each ship and class or type of vessel that the Certificate holder is authorised to pilot in the Pilotage Area.

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

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

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

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

vii.  On the application for renewal, candidates will be required to produce up-dated 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.


A Master or First Mate holding a Pilotage Exemption Certificate whose vessel has touched the ground or has been in collision or a close quarter situation with any other ship or any fixed or floating object in the waters, for which he holds such a Certificate, shall as soon as practicable report the occurrence to the Harbour Master and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and provide a written report to the CHA within 14 days of the occurrence.Additionally in accordance with the Port’s Safety Management System, PEC holders are required to report to the CHA any concerns they may have regarding safety of navigation in the Pilotage Area.


  1.  Pilotage Exemption Certificate holders shall attend at the order or summons of the CHA to answer any complaint or charge which may be made against them for the misconduct, or in respect of any marine casualty which may have occurred, whilst they were in charge of their vessels in that part of the Pilotage Area for which they are certificated.
  2. Pilotage Exemption Certificates may be revoked if considered justified by the CHA. In this event, the holder would have a right to appeal to the Competent Harbour Authority.


Please reference the current ABP South Wales tariff for a list of current fees. Tariff can be viewed by clicking here.


  1.  Limits of Competent Harbour Authority Pilotage Area for which application is being made.

  2. The application to pilotage of:-

a)  International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

b)  International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) Maritime Buoyage System A – General Principles and Rules.

c)  Appropriate Byelaws, Regulations and Directions for navigating in the Pilotage Area.

d)  Communication Procedures.

e)  Merchant Shipping (‘M’) Notices relating to pilotage.

f)  Relevant Notices to Mariners affecting the CHA Pilotage Area.

g)  National Occupation Standards for Marine Pilots

h)  Port Marine Safety Code and Guide to Good Practice.


The candidate’s experience will be determined by their ability to demonstrate detailed local knowledge pertinent to the area for which they are being examined, with particular reference to:-

a)  Coastal features.

b)  Name of the channels and fairways including those available in an emergency.

c)  General direction of tidal streams.

d)  Passage planning and critical areas of navigation.

e)  Traffic movement and patterns including any traffic separation schemes that may apply.

f)  CHA Pilotage Area and Harbour limits.

g)  Names of wharves, jetties and berths of special significance and a knowledge of berthing/unberthing manoeuvres and limitations:-

  • In an emergency.
  • To meet the requirements of changes in trading pattern.

h)  The names and characteristics of lights, their ranges and arcs of visibility.

i)  The names and characteristics of buoys, beacons, vessels and other seamarks.

j)  Position and use of radio and radar beacons, together with fog signals used to navigate in the area.

k)  The names of channel reaches, headlands, points and shoals in the area.

l)  The approximate width of the various channels.

m)  The bearing and distance from one buoy to another on each side of the channel.

n)  The fairway courses and distances in the area.

o)  The depths of water throughout the area, particularly at the buoys and light vessels.

p)  The use of sounding equipment and anticipated underkeel clearance.

q)  The set, rate, rise and duration of the tides and the use of Tide Tables.

r)  Clearing marks for shoals and points visually by day or night by radar.

s)  Significant radar patterns of aids to navigation and the use of parallel indexing.

t)  The names of anchorages, their position, use and limitations.

u)  Restricted areas and zones.

v)  Ship handling characteristics of own vessels, squat and interaction with other vessels.

w)  Limitations and restrictions of other vessels requiring special consideration.

x)  Operation with tugs – Communications and precautions.

y)  Special local signals such as tidal and traffic signals.

z)  Byelaws requiring Certificate holders to report accidents and hazardous incidents.

aa)  Any other relevant information at the discretion of the Examiners.


All examinations will be conducted in the English language.


Re-examination after a first failure is at the discretion of the Examiners, but if an applicant twice fails to pass the examination, he or she will be put back for 3 months from the date of the second examination. After 3 months, examination to be at the discretion of the Examiners.