Chart Sources

High Resolution Background Map

A more detailed version of the built in background GSHHS map is available here.
It is a big file, 230 mb(unzipped) compared to the standard 26mb,  and may slow your computer down. The presentation is better when zoomed in, but most users don't need it.
Install by unzipping and placing the files in the <data_install_dir>/gshhs .
<data_install_dir> is normally ...Program Files/OpenCPN on Windows, /Applications/ on macOS and /usr/share/opencpn/ on a Linux default installation.

  Free Nautical Charts

  • To get you started quickly, here are three sample raster charts from Puerto Rico:
  • Right click and use "Save Link As", or similar. Just clicking shows you the actual file as a text file (more about that advanced subject here: imgkap).  Don't use these charts for navigation.  Download their current versions from NOAA's Web site. Save the charts in a "directory", also called a "folder". Install the charts by adding this directory to the Options -> Charts -> "Loaded Charts" Tab.
  • The Chart Downloader Plugin, included with Opencpn 4.2 and above, will help you to download, update and organize almost all free chart sources described below.
  • For those interested in U.S. waters, raster charts and S57 vector charts are available as free downloads from NOAA. Find all NOAA charts, both raster (RNC) and vector (ENC) charts, for your region through NOAA OCS Website at: US charts cover a wide area, apart from the mainland states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Island, the Hawaiian Island chain as far as Midway Island, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands are all included
  • Official Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENC) of U.S. inland waterways are available from the US Army Corps of Engineers at The download link -> here
  • Argentina publishes free raster charts (RNC) for a large part of their coast as well as parts of Antarctica: Argentinian Charts   Note that the downloadable "zip" files actually are "rar" files.
  • Brazil publishes free raster charts (RNC) for their whole coast and new charts for inland waters are published regularly.There is also coverage for part of Antarctica. Here is a direct link to the download page: Brazilean Charts.
  • New Zealand now publishes free BSB3 raster charts, as of 2013-11-22.  Download here. NZ has moved away from a proprietary UKHO encrypted format, to the, de facto, standard BSB format. NZ charts cover most of the Pacific in small scale charts, as well as the Southern Ocean, down to Antarctica, South of New Zealand. Detailed charts for the Kermadec Islands, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Western Samoa and the Tokelau Islands, are included.
  • The version of the NZ charts compiled by Marco Certelli, includes a better coverage of the Tonga/Samoa area. The official version does not include charts with soundings in fathoms, for example. The link is here.
  • The East Asia Hydrographic Commission provides free offshore S57 vector charts for the South China Sea area at: The motivation for releasing these charts is well worth reading.

    "Realizing that official and high quality small scale ENCs conforming with the established IHO standard were not available for the SCS, the EAHC MSs decided to cooperate closely and resolve the situation so that mariners could use most up-to-date chart information for voyage planning and enhancing safety of navigation, rather than resorted to some commercially developed electronic products which were either prepared in proprietary formats, or containing unofficial data with very infrequent updating... It was the view that if the SCS ENC could be freely and widely available to mariners, it would further enhance the safety of navigation in the region. This in turn could reduce the chances of environmental damage from grounding and oil pollution, which have tremendous cost impact. The EAHC decided to provide the SCS ENC to users free of charge."

  • Colombia and Australia publish sample S57 single charts.
  • Many European countries publish free S57 ENC charts for their inland waterways:
    Czech Republic
  • Ukraine offers some non-calibrated char downloads
  • The US Pilot Charts, are available as BSB charts, on the download page.
  • The OpenSeaMap project publish raster charts in many formats (including KAP which work with OpenCPN). This project relies on mariners to survey their local waters and upload their data using the OpenStreetMap database and editing tools. This project is still in its infancy, so only a few areas have been mapped to any extent. Currently only sea-marks are displayed, but it is planned to include depth & other data in due course. For the maps, go to:

  Other Charts

    All platforms
  •  "Antares Charts" are producing a lot of very large scale charts covering "The West Coast of Scotland". These charts are available in many formats, including BSB3. A nominal sum is charged for the charts, to support this impressive effort by unqualified enthusiasts.

  Commercial Nautical Charts for OpenCPN

   All platforms
  • S63 Encrypted ENC charts. Worldwide coverage is available using the 4.0.0 version of OpenCPN. These are the official vector charts that big ships use. Detailed coverage of popular cruising grounds is not always available. For details check
  • nv-charts has an extensive, almost worldwide coverage. Generally the Windows only "nv-chart plugin" is needed. Charts in some areas, such as the Bahamas, the Windward and Leeward Islands, are however traditional BSB3 charts. It is necessary to use Windows initially to access these charts. Once this is done, it should be possible to transfer the charts to other platforms.
  • covers the Mediterranean and the Eastern Caribbean with BSB2 charts.
  • The Swedish company "Hydrographica" produces large scale BSB 3 charts for popular areas, based on their own surveys.
  • Another Swedish outfit,, provides all official charts for Sweden and Finland in BSB 3 format. If you want to buy a CD-area, and don't have access to a Windows computer, contact "soltek" first, as their installation program is Windows only.
   Windows only  
  • The VisitMyHarbour "ChartSticks" for OpenCPN, are USB sticks covering UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands,Spain (including the Canary Islands) and Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) with UKHO rastercharts, updated yearly. New for 2015 is  a coverage of the French coast from Dunkirk to Brest through large scale SHOM charts on some USB sticks.
  • Windows users also have access to world wide chart-coverage through the "BSB 4" and the "nv-charts" plugins. This coverage includes Europe. UK, for example, is covered by both BA and Imray charts.  A simple Internet search will reveal all necessary information.

  Links to more chart sources

  • A worldwide directory of free available nautical charts can be found on the Website Open Sea Chart. There's a directory for vector charts ( and a separate one for raster charts ( The collection and the updates are community driven.
  • Links to a wide selection of ENC's for U.S. inland waters and other countries are available at :


  • This is a windows only program. The produced charts can however, be used on any platform
  • GE2kap is a program that semi-automatically creates kap charts from Google Earth, and many other sources.
  • The new Jan. 08, 2016, edition creates charts from GE, chart images and SasPlanet. Can overlay opencpn chart and chart images including GeoTiff and GeoPDF. Enhanced support for SasPlanet.
  • Download from
  • GE2KAP now supports SASPlanet and all the sources it can use.
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