Electronic Navigational Charts

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NOAA Electronic Navigational Charts (NOAA ENCs) have been developed to support safe navigation in U.S. waters. A NOAA ENC contains navigational features in a vector format produced by digitizing each feature’s geometry into a specific object. NOAA cartographers collect the vector features using a data standard (S-57) recognized by international treaties and the International Hydrographic Organization. The navigational objects are maintained in a database along with additional information about their real-world characteristics, such as geographic position, shape, color, and age of the data.

Data Specifications

  • Area of Coverage: All U.S. waters
  • Date(s) Available: Vary by location
  • Format: Vector database
  • Resolution/Scale: Multiple scales


  • Free to download
  • Often used by mariners and others navigating with an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) that interprets the stored data
  • Can also be used for non-navigational purposes in a geographic information system using ENC Direct to GIS


ENC Resource Center
Provides access to ENC software and free viewers