Mandatory use of pilots and IMO's recommendation on the use of pilots

The regulation on the use of a pilot depends on whether it is a transit of Danish territorial waters or passage to and from Danish ports. Additionally, specific regulation covers towing.

The IMO recommendation

To comply with the IMO recommendation ships should use a pilot when transiting internal and external Danish territorial waters (that is, passage without calling Danish port or anchorage etc.) through Route T and the Sound respectively:


Transit through Route-T (the IMO recommendation)

  • All vessels with a draught of 11 metres or more.
  • Vessels carrying highly radioactive material (INF code materials).



Transit through the Sound (the IMO recommendation)

  • Loaded oil tankers with a draught of 7 metres or more.
  • Loaded chemical ­tankers irrespective of size and gas carriers irrespective of size.
  • Vessels carrying ­highly radio­active material (INF code materials).


(Above is an extract from ‘SN.1/Circular.263 of 23.10.07, section 1.9 and 1.14’)


Link to the IMO recommendation:

IMO recommendations at the Danish Maritime Authority (SN.1/Circular.263)


The specific definitions of oil, chemicals etc. are found here: Link to Retsinformation (Danish Law Register - in Danish only) 


The Danish straits and narrow channels are difficult to navigate. Current, bottom and wind conditions combined with low and variable draughts, high traffic intensity and narrow passages make it difficult and pose a risk for the safe navigation and the environment to transit especially the internal Danish territorial waters without a pilot.


The IMO recommendation covers the passage Skagen-Gedser and through Oresund (the Sound).


Danish Pilotage act

Passage to and from Danish port and anchorage


It is mandatory to use a pilot for vessels passing to or from Danish port and anchorage in Danish territorial waters according to the Danish Pilotage Act if the vessels

1) carry oil or have uncleaned cargo tanks that have not been rendered safe with inert gas,

2) carry chemicals,

3) carry gases,

4) have more than 5,000 t bunker oil onboard or

5) are carrying highly radioactive material.


For certain areas, vessel types etc. exemptions or clarification regarding the mandatory use of pilot have been made, read more here:


The Pilotage Act at Retsinformation  (Danish Law Register - in Danish only) 




Special rules apply for towage of vessels, read more here:

Bekendtgørelse om anvendelse af lods (Danish Law Register - in Danish only)