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What Happens When Your Navionics Subscription Expires?

After spending a season happily sailing with your Navionics charts, you may well receive a notification telling you it is time to renew.

Depending on your area, it could be quite a significant cost, so you are probably wondering exactly what will happen if you just let it expire.

When your Navionics subscription expires you can continue to access your previously downloaded charts, but they will no longer be updated. You will also lose access to all the advanced features such as Dock-to-dock Autorouting, Advanced Map Options, and Plotter Sync.

As Navionics operates on a subscription model, you need to renew your subscription on an annual basis.

In common with most charting systems, your initial purchase comes with 1-year of updates. At the time your subscription expires, your charts will remain in the same state that they were in when you last applied an update.

The longer it is since the last update, the less accurate your charts become.

As most recreational boaters do not worry about having expired charts, Navionics also includes activation of advanced features with their subscriptions to add another incentive to renew.

While advanced features are not strictly necessary, some of them could almost be considered basic features so you would get much less benefit when they are not active.

For example, there are plenty of reports of users losing the ability to change depth contours when their subscription expires. This is not an issue if you never change your contours anyway, but for some, this will be enough to force a renewal on its own.

For me, coming from a commercial maritime background, the most important thing is to have a set of properly corrected charts for my passage.

If I was using Navionics as the primary method of navigation, I would consider updates as an essential annual expense.

If I was only using Navionics as a supplementary aid, I would be far more relaxed about whether I renew or not. My decision would primarily be based on whether I wanted the advanced features rather than the updated charts.

Do you need to renew Navionics?

You do not need to renew a Navionics subscription, but if you don’t then your charts will no longer be up to date and you will lose access to advanced features.

Navionics charts are available for use in chart plotters or within the Navionics Boating App (link to my review).

Chart Plotters

On chart plotters, Navionics charts come on a memory card which can be inserted into your chart plotter.

The chart plotter reads the license of the chart and tells you if they have expired. When they are expired, the plotter will continue to show your charts, but it will restrict functionality.

You will no longer be able to…

  • Highlight shallow areas
  • Adjust contour density
  • Select a fishing range
  • Plan routes using dock-to-dock autorouting
  • Use SonarChart Live
  • Transfer routes between the app and your plotter

Navionics Boating App

In the Navionics Boating App, charts and updates are downloaded when the app has an internet connection.

When the charts expire, you will no longer be able to download updates to the charts, and you will lose the following functionality…

  • Dock-to-dock autorouting
  • Advanced map options
  • Weather and tides
  • AIS
  • Transfer routes between the app and your plotter
  • GPX import / export
  • Use SonarChart Live
  • Share/view live location
  • Share/save shared tracks, routes and markers

In summary, you do not need to renew your Navionics subscription, but if you do not then you should consider an alternative navigation solution.

For example, you could navigate using paper charts and continue to use basic features of Navionics until you are ready to renew.

How long does a Navionics subscription last?

A Navionics subscription lasts for 1-year.

At the end of the subscription period, you can either renew it at a discounted price (usually 50% of the original price), or you can continue to use it in a limited way.

If you choose to continue using it, your charts will remain in the same state that they were in on the day they expired.

Pro Tip: Make sure your Navionics charts are set up how you want them before you let your subscription expire.

The importance of updates on a nautical chart

It is important to keep navigational charts and publications up to date so that you always have the best information available for navigation.

Such is the importance of chart updates, if a commercial vessel does not have up-to-date charts, she will be deemed to be un-seaworthy, which has a severe impact in terms of legal compliance and insurance.

The same is true for pleasure vessels, although you will often find the laws are less strict than they are for commercial vessels. Make sure you check in your own jurisdiction!

Regardless of the consequences, the fact remains that up to date charts and publications are incredibly important.

The maritime environment is constantly changing, often in ways that you cannot immediately see.

  • New underwater hazards are continuously being detected
  • Seabed surveys are being updated
  • New aids to navigation are being placed
  • Light characteristics occasionally change
  • Buoys may be removed or relocated
  • Channels may silt up or be dredged
  • New restricted areas may be established
  • Military firing ranges might be changed

You get the idea. There is a constant stream of new information that needs to be communicated to vessels undertaking maritime navigation.

When you subscribe to a service like Navionics, they take care of all the updates for you.

On a regular basis, they issue new information in digital form that you can transfer to your plotter on the Boating App.

When the information hits your device, you know that your charts contain the most up to date information that is available.

Of course, things could change between the update and when you are actually sailing, but the idea is that regular updates reduce the chance of that happening.

If you decide you no longer want to update your charts, you need to accept that there may have been lots of changes since your last update.

As a professional, I will always recommend that you keep all your charts fully up to date.

With Navionics, however, if you are only using it as a secondary means of navigation, and your primary method is fully up to date, I would have no hesitation in letting my subscription lapse.