International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities recommendations and guidelines

Guidelines to assist you with safe and efficient navigation.

The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) is a non-governmental organisation.

The term 'marine aids to navigation' in the present IALA Constitution means a device, system or service, external to vessels, designed and operated to enhance safe and efficient marine navigation.

IALA enables marine aids to navigation authorities, manufacturers, consultants, and scientific and training institutes from all parts of the world, and helps them to exchange and compare their experiences, achievements, and technical and operational policies through participation in IALA technical committees. IALA was established in 1957.

Technical committees

There are four technical committees:

  • vessel traffic service (VTS)
  • e-Navigation
  • aids to navigation requirements and management (ANM)
  • aids to navigation engineering and sustainability (ENG).

The VTS committee focuses on all aspects of VTS, including the expanding role of vessel monitoring for maritime safety, environmental protection, and security.

The committee aims to develop and review VTS related IALA documentation on issues such as:

  • training personnel
  • operational procedures
  • equipment requirements.

The committee reviews and updates the IALA VTS manual, a comprehensive reference document. A new edition of the VTS manual is published every four years.

IALA publications


These documents represent the highest level of IALA documentation (equivalent to a ‘standard’ in an intergovernmental organisation).

Recommendations provide direction to IALA members on procedures and processes that facilitate IALA objectives.

IALA recommendations contain information on how members should plan, operate and manage aids to navigation.

Recommendations may reference relevant international standards and IALA guidelines.

IALA guidelines

These documents provide detailed information on an aspect of:

  • a specific subject
  • indicating options
  • best practices
  • suggestions for implementation.

IALA guidelines relate to:

  • planning
  • operating
  • managing aids to navigation.

IALA manuals

These documents provide an overall view of a large subject area.

They are aimed at a widely varied readership and references are made to IALA guidelines, IALA recommendations, and related international documents.

Related information

Last updated: 1 December 2017
Last reviewed: 1 December 2017