From the sea, access to Amsterdam is via the North Sea Canal. After passing the locks in IJmuiden a ship can pass through to one of the tideless ports of IJmuiden/Velsen, Beverwijk, Zaanstad or Amsterdam.

From inland waters, access to Amsterdam is via the Oranje locks nearby the IJsselmeer or through the Amsterdam Rhine canal. The Port of Amsterdam is in charge of all traffic control. This entails both the operation of the locks, the waterways and the mooring of ships.

Lock complex IJmuiden

The lock complex of IJmuiden is made up of 4 locks and is operational night and day (24 hours). The maximum draught allowed to use the lock is 13,72 metres in salt water.

  length width depth
Northern lock 400 metres 50 metres 15 metres
Middle lock 220 metres 25 metres 10 metres
Southern lock 111 metres 18 metres 8 metres
Small lock 111 metres 11 metres 3.75 metres

These are the constructional dimensions of the locks, not the passage lengths.


Map: IJmuidenClick to enlarge


The average transit times are:

Pilot station to lock 45 minutes
Lockage 30 minutes
Lock to port terminal mooring 60 minutes

New locks

The lock complex in IJmuiden is the entrance to the economically very important port area along the North Sea Canal: Zeehavens Amsterdam. For the latest generation of cargoships only the 4th lock, the Northern Lock, is still suitable. The other locks are too small for cargoships and cruiseships. When the construction of the Northern Lock was finished in 1929 it was the biggest in the world.

In 2004 the Minister of Transport and Public Works, the Minister of Housing, Regional Development and Environment, the city council of Amsterdam, the Province of Noord-Holland, and the representatives of the business community, agreed to jointly investigate the possibilities for innovative and affordable solutions for the improvement of the IJmuiden approach. Therefore the partners have founded the project "Zeetoegang IJmuiden" (IJmuiden approach).

You can visit the website of the project if you want to know more about the IJmuiden approach project.

North Sea Canal

  • Width: 270 metres, length: +/- 20 km, runs from the locks to the Coen harbour, where the IJ begins and runs through to the Oranje locks
  • Maximum depth of the North Sea Canal, as in the locks, is 13.75 metres (measured in salt water)
  • Deeper ships up to 17.8 metres (measured in salt water) can lighten outside the locks.

Traffic control takes place from the Harbour Operation Centre in IJmuiden, whereby the following VHF channels are used.

Amsterdam port area

The port area is made up of the following harbour basins as seen from the west

  • Afrika harbour: Zanzibar harbour, Mauritius harbour, Madagascar harbour
  • Amerika harbour: Alaska harbour, Cacao harbour, Texas harbour, Azië harbour, Australië harbour en Tasmanie harbour
  • West harbour: ADM- harbour, Horn harbour, Moezel harbour, Main harbour, Bering harbour, Suez harbour, Bosporus harbour en Sont harbour 
  • Jan van Riebeeck harbour: Usselincx harbour, Carel Reiniersz harbour, Aden harbour
  • Petroleum harbour
  • Coen harbour
  • Mercurius harbour; Nieuwe Hout harbour, Minerva harbour, Neptunus harbour, Vlot harbour
  • Oude Hout harbour

In addition to these harbour basins there are also berths for inland vessels and cruise ships by the De Ruijterkade and in the eastern port area.