Mariners can purchase two types of NOAA paper charts: lithographs and Print-on-Demand.
Since the 1860s, NOAA’s traditional paper charts have been printed using the lithographic process. Since they are printed in batches, with lag times of up to ten or more years, they do not contain critical updates that were published in the United States Coast Guard’s Local Notice to Mariners (LNM) or in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Notice to Mainers (NM) since the chart publication date. Effective April 13, 2014, the federal government will no longer print nautical charts using the lithographic process. NOAA Print on Demand (POD) paper charts will still be available from certified vendors. (See announcement here.)
NOAA-certified Print on Demand (POD) charts are printed within a day or two of the date it is ordered and contain critical chart corrections published in the LNM and NM within a week of the order date.
To purchase a traditional lithographic paper chart, find a local NOAA chart agent at the Federal Aviation Administration Agent Listing. (This site lists both aeronautical and nautical chart agents). NOAA recommends that you call and verify the availability of the latest paper edition from the vendor you select. You can also order lithographic charts online or over the phone by contacting one of the retailers listed below.*
* This list is not comprehensive. Charts may also be purchased over the counter at a number of locations. (Check with your local marine supply store for availability.) Please submit questions, updates, additions, or corrections regarding this list. Links to non-federal websites do not imply endorsement of any particular product, service, organization, company, information provider, or content.
Nearly all NOAA paper charts are available in Print on Demand (POD) format. Charts are fully corrected within a week of the time of purchase. Purchase NOAA and NGA PODs through OceanGrafix or East View Geospatial
NOAA's entire suite of over 1,000 nautical charts is available for free as Raster Navigational Charts in the BSB format. Commercial electronic charting software is required to use them. Weekly digital upates are also available.
NOAA ENC® cells are available for free download. These are electronic vector data sets in the international S-57 standard. Updates are also available. Commercial software is required to view ENCs and to apply updates.
The Office of Coast Survey's Historical Map and Chart Collection contains over 20,000 maps and charts from the late 1700s to present day. The Collection includes some of the nation's earliest nautical charts, hydrographic surveys, topographic surveys, geodetic surveys, city plans, and Civil War battle maps.
NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, in conjunction with the NOAA Climate Database Modernization Program and the NOAA Central Library, is in the process of imaging the entire collection of historical U.S. Coast Pilots.