Apply for Pilotage Exemption Certificate (PEC)
The new Pilotage Act (561/2023) entered into force on 1 September 2023. The objective of Pilotage Act is to enhance maritime safety and fairway navigation competence and to prevent the detrimental environmental impacts arising from vessel traffic. With the new Pilotage Act, there will be significant changes to the compulsory pilotage, pilotage certificates and the conditions for their issuance, as well as the sanctions and penalty provisions. Compulsory pilotage applies to ships when they operate in the compulsory pilotage area, subject to the provisions concerning the limits of the compulsory pilotage in specific VTS fairways. If the ship enters the Finnish compulsory pilotage area by using a VTS fairway, compulsory pilotage shall only start at the pilotage limit of the fairway in question. Pilotage limit means the point in the VTS fairway beyond which the bridge of the ship subject to compulsory pilotage shall be manned by the pilot carrying out the pilotage or the persons exempted from compulsory pilotage under Pilotage Act.
Pilotage Exemption Certificates
Exemptions from compulsory pilotage for specific fairways or VTS areas can be entered on the PEC granted by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. The ships to which the exemptions entered on the certificate apply are also entered on the certificate.
The PEC may be restricted or unrestricted. A restricted PEC does not exempt the ship from compulsory pilotage in fairways where assistance restriction I C or stricter assistance restriction applies. Current assistance restrictions and the history chart and table you will find on the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency's website. (External link)
An unrestricted PEC with fairway-specific or area-specific exemptions may only be granted if the applicant has also made the familiarisation voyage in a fairway in Finland where at least the assistance restriction IC applies and completed the ice condition parts of the ship simulator test. Such a familiarisation voyage in ice conditions can be considered as the experience required for receiving the exemption if the voyage is made in a fairway for which the applicant is seeking exemption. The applicant shall also demonstrate that he or she already possesses experience in navigation in ice conditions. An applicant who does not possess experience in navigation in ice conditions shall make at least three familiarisation voyages in ice conditions differing from each other.
Ice conditions that differing from each other can be that the fairway has had a stricter assistance restriction or otherwise be able to demonstrate that the conditions, such as ice coverage, ice thickness and ice type, are different between familiarisation voyages.
Fairway-specific exemption from compulsory pilotage
The order of execution of the PEC is regulated by the Pilotage Act. When the applicant is about to start completing the prerequisites for the PEC, the first thing he or she shall do is take the online theory test. The link to the theory test can be ordered from luotsausasiat(at)traficom.fi. The content, competence requirements and structure of the theory exam are determined in more detail in the PEC regulation (link to the regulation in the section regulations).
After successfully passing the theory test, the applicant shall complete a PEC familiarisation voyage. The familiarisation voyage can be given by a person who has worked as a pilot in the area for at least five years, or an experienced PEC holder who has an exemption for that fairway, and during the validity of the exemption at least six months of sea service, at least 10 voyages of experience on the fairway. The familiarisation voyage must be done in both directions of the fairway.
If the PEC familiarisation voyage is ordered from the pilotage company Finnpilot, the order shall be made at least 24 hours in advance. More information about ordering a PEC familiarisation voyage can be found on the pilotage company's website. A completed PEC familiarisation voyage verification shall be shall be enclosed to the application for a Pilot Exemption Certificate.
For a fairway-specific exemption for the PEC, it is required that the applicant has completed the training voyages on the fairway laid down in section 40 of the Pilotage Act. Voyages can be made on a ship is subject to compulsory pilotage on the fairway or that is exempt from the compulsory pilotage on the fairway. The training voyages shall be recorded on the application form, and must be indicated by either the pilot or a PEC holder who has been responsible for piloting the vessel on the fairway during the voyage.
Training voyages must be performed at least as follows:
- at least 10 voyages in both directions in the fairway, if the applicant has at least 6 months of seagoing service in steering tasks of the ship in question; or
- at least 10 voyages in both directions in the fairway, if the applicant has at least 30 months of seagoing service as a ship's master; or
- at least 15 voyages in both directions in the fairway, if the applicant does not meet the above experience requirements.
When the applicant has completed the required training voyages, he or she can take the fairway knowledge test. The purpose of the fairway knowledge test shall be to assess the applicant’s fairway knowledge, his or her ability to perceive the available fairway space in conditions typical of the area and his or her ability to prepare a pilotage plan.
In the fairway knowledge test, the applicant makes a pilotage plan for the fairway to be applied for. The minimum content of the pilotage plan is specified in more detail in section 5.5 of the PEC regulation. In addition to the pilotage plan, the applicant's competence is also measured in VTS, operating methods and instructions related to the fairway and possibly the ports connected to the fairway. The fairway knowledge test is taken by the person assessing the PEC examination. Pilotage company Finnpilot has an obligation to maintain PEC examinees. Ordering a fairway knowledge test contact Finnpilot.
Once the applicant's fairway knowledge test has been passed, the applicant shall complete the practical part of the PEC exam, which consists of a practical pilotage test on board and a complementary ship simulator test.
The practical pilotage test shall measure the applicant’s ability to steer and navigate the ship in the fairway specified in the application in a safe manner. In the practical pilotage test, the applicant shall navigate the ship entered on the PEC through the fairway specified in the application in one direction.
The ship simulator test consists of exercises measuring the applicant’s fairway piloting skills, the difficult parts of the fairway(s) concerned, and exercises measuring the applicant’s control in abnormal situations and during malfunctions. The content of the ship simulator test is determined by the person assessing the examination based on the areas evaluated during the practical pilotage test so that all the areas in the evaluation form are measured as necessary.
The practical pilotage test and the ship simulator test are taken by the person assessing the PEC examination, and both performances are evaluated as a whole.
Renewal of the fairway-specific exemption entered on the unrestricted PEC also requires that during the validity of the fairway-specific exemption, the applicant has made at least five or, during the preceding 12 months, at least two voyages in ice conditions in any of the fairways entered on the certificate and in this particular fairway, at least an assistance restriction IC is in effect.
Ordering theory test:
Ordering familiarisation voyage, fairway knowledge test, practical pilotage test and ship simulator test:
Finnpilot Pilotage Ltd