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About the automatic identification system

Find out about the automatic identification system (AIS).

The AIS is a maritime communications device. It uses the very high frequency (VHF) radio broadcasting system to transfer data. AIS equipped vessels (shipborne AIS) and shore based stations (non-shipborne AIS) can use it to send and receive identifying information. This identifying information can be displayed on an electronic chart, computer display, chart plotter or compatible navigation radar.

AIS improves navigation safety and environmental protection by assisting in the effective navigation of ships.

This identifying information can:

  • aid in situational awareness
  • provide a means to assist in collision avoidance.

The AIS can handle over 2000 reports per minute and may update information as often as every two seconds.

AIS can be used as an aid to navigation by providing location and additional information on buoys and lights.

Related information 

Last updated: 22 November 2017
Last reviewed: 22 November 2017