Our website uses cookies so that we can provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies.

How to order a Pilot

The services of a PLA Pilot can be requested by the master of any vessel irrespective of whether pilotage is compulsory for the vessel concerned.

Full details of compulsory pilotage regulations, together with full details of how to order a pilot and a list of contact addresses, can be found in the PLA's Pilotage Directions located on the PLA Regulations & Guidance Webpage.  Please also refer to the VTS Notifications page.

How to order a Pilot

Online (for ships agents and regular users)

PISCES is an Internet application which enables Ship Operators, Agents and port visitors to submit notification of a ship's expected movements, or order a pilot.  Ackowledgement, or feedback about any other information that is required, will be sent by PLA in return. The updated information will be visible both as an update to the sender's web page, and from an email.

To sign up for a PISCES account, please email giving a generic company email address (to which email receipts will be copied), and separate email addresses and passwords for each intended user in the company.

To log in to PISCES after an account has been set up, please click here.

Using a local agent

Many ships use the services of a local agent to order a Pilot. These local companies have a good knowledge of the requirements and a list of local agents can be found here.  Most have an online account for ordering pilots.

You can contact us using any of the following methods:-

By telephone

+44 (0)1474 560311



By VHF radio

Channel 9, call North-east Spit pilots if approaching from the south, inward bound.


Channel 9, call Sunk pilots if approaching from the north, inward bound.


Channel 9, call Gravesend pilots if outward bound.


An officer in Port Control can discuss the options as to which Pilot Station to use, agree a boarding time and will be able to liaise with a senior PLA Pilot should there be a problem with draught and available depth.

For full details of the procedure for ordering a Pilot, and the requisite notice, please refer to current Pilotage Directions located on the PLA Regulations & Guidance page .

Pilot Safety

Download the full size card detailing statutory requirements for pilot ladders: IMO Boarding Arrangements for Pilots

Boarding of addtional persons by pilot boat is by prior arrangement with, and at the discretion of the PLA or its provider, Estuary Services Ltd, and will be subject to the completion of a safety briefing beforehand. Operators contemplating this are referred to Marine Guidance Note (MGN) 432.


A list of pilotage charges is published on this site. Invoices are normally issued after completion of the pilotage act, although PLA has the facilities to accept payment by credit or debit card from customers who do not hold an account.

For more information please see the following: