Saturday, March 12, 2016

How to Buy, Register, and Download Canadian Echarts

This note was originally about ENC type echarts alone, but it turned out that the process of buying, registering and downloading the echarts is the same for both ENC (vector) and RNC (raster) echarts, so I have changed the title of the note, but not the body of the text, which still reflects the original motivation for the article, which was ENC.

When it comes to the actual installation, however, these two chart types from Canada are quite different, because of an extra layer of encryption applied to the RNC.

Also looking ahead a bit, we see below that the process is a bit long, and has to be done in the right order, but once this part has been done and you have a username and password with CHS, subsequent registrations and downloads are very easy.  The RNC install, however, is another issue and we will have to come back to that later. The ENC install is very simple.

* * *

In an earlier note on the Naming and Boundaries of ENC eCharts, I discussed the unique situation of needing one specific Canadian ENC if we wished to use all ENC in the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, as might be the case, for example, when using Expedition for the Swiftsure or Victoria to Maui Yacht Race. This note is a follow up on that one.

In process of working with individual copy protected Canadian ENC, we learn quickly how lucky we are in the US with free echarts and super convenient access. It is all doable, but frankly tedious, and indeed there is no help online nor available from their telephone tech support. The phone support can help with BSB raster charts, but not the ENC, though I suspect now that the process is in fact identical for Canadian ENC and RNC.

This process is outlined in detail below, because the right path is not obvious, and any wrong turn spins out into a dead end.

(1) Choose the chart you want from the very useful CHS Interactive (graphic) Index (save the link, it is not so easy to find.)  The single chart at hand at the moment is CA470075, which they label with its paper chart name: V-3440 - Race Rocks to/à D'Arcy Island.

(2) Buy the chart. In principle there are numerous dealers of individual Canadian echarts, but the only one I found that could actually sell this is our friends at Captains Nautical Supply. In principle, this could all be done over the phone.

After you buy it you will get an email back from Captains with this information. The original prices are quoted at CHS in Canadian dollars as $25, which I assume this is as well.
Figure 1. Proof of purchase

Figure 2. Link to where you register and download.

(3) Register the chart, which takes place in several steps: we set up two accounts, download the chart, and install the chart.

Here are the steps, with apologies again for what seems maybe over explained, but one wrong step and it breaks. We start with the link provided by CHS when we purchased the chart  (, which actually takes you to a different link:   We are getting early hints here that we have to stay sharp, ie there are two sets of instructions originally mailed to us that both go to the same link, which is not actually the link they go to.

We end up here:
(My original snag was I thought the blue fields were just table headers, but they are indeed the links.)
Figure 3
This takes us to Figure 4, and we then go direct to the bottom link. It is not clear what the top part is referring to. I think GC means Government of Canada.

Figure 4.

If you have already in the past registered, you can log in here, but if not we now start the process of setting up an account with the Sign Up link on the next page.

(If you later need to download a second copy, this is where you would log in to do that, and it would be straight forward. But you must then log in with the same account that you registered the chart with originally.)

Figure 5

Figure 6
Figure 7

NOTE  they have strict rules on names, hints, questions and answers. I have marked these in red boxes.

Figure 8

Figure 9
IMPORTANT NOTE. Be sure to save this information so you can regain your login if needed.

Figure 10

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you delay very long at any page you will get the following message when you hit Next or Continue. I am not sure how long you have, but it is not long. Maybe just 5 min or so.  If you get this at the end of the process, as I did once trying to record all of my answers etc, it is very discouraging. You get to start all over.

Figure 11

With no errors, the Figure 10 Continue button will take you to Figure 12 below.

Looking at that one, you will not have received a DFO passcode as so far we did not give any email address.  So in this window you will choose Self Registration. 

Figure 12

After choosing Self Registration, you get the screen below and now we can start the real registration.

Figure 13

Figure 14

Figure 15

NOTE in the form below (Figure 16) you must enter a Unit Type, even though it is not marked as required.

Figure 16

Figure 17

The next figure is a summary of your registration information with CHS. Print this or save it as a pdf, as you may need it to recover the chart or a login.  Maybe a call to them would get it, but not sure.

Figure 18

Then when you save this, you will be back to your products page, which will not have any,  and you can add them.

If you do not get sent back to the next page below, then just start over and on the first page (Figure 5 above) enter your Username and password selected earlier, and you will get here.  This is where you paste in the code for that chart that was mailed to you.

Figure 19
NOTE in the above we do not use the link License a Product.

After you add this product, the same page will then have it listed further down the page  under the section Active Products.

 And it is here where we download the chart.

IMPORTANT NOTE. It might take several clicks.  Click it once and wait a few seconds.  If nothing happens, try again. In one test I had to try 3 times, and this behavior has been confirmed to me by other users.  But be sure to give it 5 or 10 seconds between clicks.

Figure 21.

And then we get our chart, which you just save to your downloads folder.  This zipped file is then all standard ENC format.  It is easy sailing from here on. Again, if you need another copy for another computer, you can start from the beginning and just log in.

Figure 21

Below is a video on how to install this ENC into Coastal Explorer, along with related notes on using this program to select, download, and install US ENC.


David Burch said...

3/28/16. Found a link at the GC site which essentially covers this, but I do not know if they link to it anywhere: Seems to have been made middle of last month, so it might show up on their site eventually.

Unknown said...

A truly pathetic process. I had CHS charts from 2011 but with the change in their distribution licensing from Maptech, which was then purchased by Richardsons my credentials were lost. So, I cannot redownload or upgrade my charts.

I gave up and purchased the Navionics product. Still some foolish rigamarole with X-Traverse and Fugawi, which was sold to Johnson Outdoors. Clearly, the CHS attempt to preserve their revenue source has lead to complexity, some fraud with a prior licensee, and generally a poor experience. Government bureaucrats should probably not be involved with technology and should acknowledge their incompetence (as evidenced by the process you have so thoroughly documented). While their attempt to involve the private sector might be applauded all they have accomplished is to allow further incompetence in the collection of economic rents by distributors who add no value and further complicate the process.

Sparky said...

Thanks David

I see that two installs per license is allowed. What's the procedure when I need to move a license to a third PC?

And I am having difficulty locating dealers able to sell individual charts. No problems with the collections.


David Burch said...

I think you can move them, which means logging on and de-registering one install. As for single CND ENC, I have checked with Captains Nautical Supply and they still offer these. Not sure you can do it online, but you call them (206) 283-7242.

Sparky said...

Looks like CHS no longer sells CDs via dealers. All sales are direct from CHS download starting Jan 1 2017. That said, I can not locate instructions on CHS site re: how to make a purchase. Any ideas? Thanks!

David Burch said...

"CHS distributes nautical charts through a dealer network that serves Canada and the entire world. You can use this site to find the nautical charts that you need and choose the dealer from which you will order them." you can find a list of dealers at

David Burch said...

I should have been more clear. that is a statement from CHS. they do not sell them online themselves, only via dealers. also if you happen to use Rose Point Coastal Explorer you can buy all of East or West Canada for $99 which includes CHS current data.