What is VTS?

Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) allows the monitoring of vessels, in real time, to enable safe and efficient traffic management in a specified maritime area, including the position of vessels in order to immediately identify incidents that may generate risks for the crew and the environment.

The systems displays a graphical environment with the movements of vessels in the approach areas, putting each of these overlapping vessels to a digital nautical chart, in its real geodesic position and informs the identification of each vessel.

In many waterways vessels operate independently in any traffic situation or time, without VTS. However, knowing the types of services and roles assigned to the VTS is part of the procedures used to determine whether the implementation of such a service is the appropriate action for a particular area of interest.

Benefits of the VTS

Basically, the VTS contributes to the following tasks:

  1. Safety of life at sea and the safety of navigation by identifying and monitoring vessels, by planning for movement of vessels in the VTS area and the disclosure of information and assistance to the navigator;
  2. Increased efficiency of maritime traffic;
  3. Prevention of marine pollution and anti-pollution measures; and
  4. Protection of communities and infrastructures in the VTS and adjoining area.

Additionally, a VTS can provide contribution to the increased efficiency of port activities and to support security activities in the maritime sector.

VTS in Ports

A distinction must be made between the VTS dedicated to port service and the VTS dedicated to the coastal service. The duties of a port VTS will be directed primarily to the traffic of the port area and its direct access (inland waters and canals, in general), while a coastal VTS is concerned with the transit of vessels for a given stretch of territorial sea.

Regarding the types of service for a port VTS, it is common to expect support services for navigation or traffic organization, while a Coastal VTS usually will only have the information service. However, a VTS station may be both, provided that fitted to it.

Exemplo do VTMIS

How Does the VTS Work?

Below is a reproduction of what the system is able to safely control the boat traffic in ports and terminals. Watch the recording of vessel traffic in one of the busiest ports in the world – the port of Hong Kong. The recording of the system consists of six hours with accelerated playback of 2:25 minutes.


The Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS) is an extension of VTS in the form of an Integrated Maritime Surveillance System.

The VTMIS activities should not interfere with the operation of the VTS in any way. The Maritime Authority has no role to play with respect to VTMIS. More information about the VTMIS can be obtained here.

VTS Regulation


The VTS in Brazil is regulated by the Brazilian Maritime Authority through NORMAN-26, following international standards set by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA).

The IALA reviews the services provided by Navigation Assistants, Vessel Traffic Authorities, international regulations and new technologies to provide detailed information to the authorities in the manuals, such as the NavGuide and VTS Manuals, which are regularly reviewed and updated every four years.


This non-profit organization is the responsible worldwide for regulating the technologies and practices that are intended to improve the services being provided, such as training of VTS personnel.

SHELTER is accredited by the Brazilian Maritime Authority and by IALA, internationally. Thus being qualified to deliver VTS courses and do consultancies in VTS in partnership with AFS Consultants.


VTS Certification

In 2013 SHELTER was approved by the Maritime Authority of Brazil and by IALA to provide training for VTS operators. SHELTER is a member of the IALA

Certificado VTS NORMAM 26 (Português)Certificado VTS NORMAM 26 (Inglês)
VTS Certificate – NORMAM 26 (Portuguese)VTS Certificate – NORMAM 26 (English)

VTS Controller

The VTS controller is the title given to the person responsible for managing the operation and maintenance of a VTS and all that occurs within the VTS area.

VTS in Brazil

VTS has not been implemented in any of the existing ports in Brazil. However, this has been improving in order to replace the systems still in use, exclusively passive, which employ the AIS as a basic sensor.

Equipped with sophisticated features of active and passive sensing as radars, special video cameras, meteorological and hydrographic sensors and communications to enable the collection and production of information to support the safety of shipping, port operations, financial control, and audits, all in a single platform, allowing the port to final entry in the paperless era, also contributing to fight “piracy” and the reduction of costs.

In 2014 the ports of Brazil began to open bidding to implement the VTS systems. Information on the progress of these bids, and other news about the VTS may be accompanied in our news section on the VTS (in Portuguese).

VTS Services

To contribute to development of vessel traffic technologies in Brazil, SHELTER sought a partnership with AFS CONSULTANTS (UK) to become the first company in Brazil to be certified in VTS.

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Shelter was founded in 2007 by six Navy Captains with extensive experience in maritime affairs. The company started its activities in the market of courses and… Read more