1. What is AIS?

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is required since December 2004 on passenger ships, tankers, and ships with a gross tonnage of 300+. They're all equipped with an AIS transponder which regularly transmits live data about its ship's position, name, size, speed, course, destination, etc. The AIS data is transmitted on two VHF channels (frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz).

2. How does the system work?

Our systems collect data from AIS receivers placed around seas, canals, and ports. The data is immediately sent to our servers which then distribute that data in real-time to our customers via the internet.

AIS data is encoded in NMEA sentences: !AIVDM,1,1,,A,13UAi60000r:NBBAIbLqd7i60@FL,0*48

Messages include the following three basic types:

  1. Dynamic information (MMSI, IMO, call sign, ...)
  2. Static information (position, time (UTC), status, ...)
  3. Other information (destination, ETA, draft, ...)

3. How often is the data refreshed?

ShippingExplorer is a real time AIS data system. If some vessels are out of the covered areas you can use the History/Search option to check the last recorded position of the vessel. In the client software you can choose yourself how often the data should be refreshed, optimized for your internet connection.

4. How do I get an AIS receiver from you?

Please contact us expressing your interest in getting a free AIS receiver and you will be sent the form to fill out. Please include your name, e-mail address, phone number, coordinates and at what height you can mount the antenna.

We provide the AIS stations for free on the condition that you provide a reliable connectivity. You will have to install the AIS station in your building within 7 days after you receive it from us and provide electricity and internet connectivity 24/7.

Please note the following requirements:

  • Antenna should be installed on the roof of your building. The cable between the antenna and the receiver should preferably be less than 20 meters. The ethernet cable (between the AIS receiver and your modem / switch / router) can be of any length.
  • Electricity (220 V) for the equipment
  • 24/7 connection to the internet, available near the receiver

AIS receiver setup scheme

The following equipment will be shipped to you for free:

  • AIS receiver
  • VHF antenna (160 MHz)
  • Relevant cables and antenna mounting parts

Included AIS equipment

5. How much will it cost me?

We assume that you already have an internet connection (traffic is around 10 MB per day) and a modem / switch / router. The rest of the equipment will be provided.

6. I already have the needed equipment, how can I send it to you?

If you already have your own AIS station you may send your data via Ship Plotter or AISMon to us. Contact us for further information.

7. Why is the Somalian region not shown?

Due to recent attacks by pirates near Somalia we do not provide AIS data for that region. If you still need real time data for that region, please contact us.

8. I need more help!

In case your questions have not been answered by the FAQ you can still contact us.