The AIS Protocol

MarineTraffic provides free, near real-time information regarding vessels' positions, their details and voyage-related information. The initial data collection is based on the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

The AIS-transmitted information that vessels periodically send is being picked up by MarineTraffic's network of coastal receiving stations (provided that the vessel is within its range). The vast majority of these stations are operated by contributors who are using equipment provided by MarineTraffic or have added their already existing AIS-receiving stations to the MarineTraffic network.

Note: All AIS-receiving stations can be displayed on the Live Map at once. Please go to the Layers section of the Live Map Toolbar and tick the selection box next to the Stations option.
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All collected information is sent to MarineTraffic's central database. The central database processes the incoming data, stores the most important part of it and, finally, utilizes it to display the relative information on the MarineTraffic Live Map. Ports' and areas' geographic information is also stored along with other information. 

Data received is uploaded in our database in real-time and, therefore, it is immediately available on the Live Map and on other pages. However, several positions shown on it may not be continuously refreshed - for example, when a vessel goes out of range, as coastal receiving stations have a maximum range of a certain distance. As you probably have gathered by now, coloured icons represent any vessel's position, heading and movement status on the Live Map.

Due to the way the MarineTraffic system is built, overall coverage keeps expanding! Actually, anyone is able to contribute to the data collection. If you are interested in participating in our network of receiving stations, you can apply for a free AIS-receiver (a pre-programmed, customised MarineTraffic-branded receiver by Comar which we may be able to provide you with).

To learn more about how our Network works or how you can contribute, click here