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Shipping information

Situated in the centre of the Bay of Biscay, the Port of Bilbao offers easy access, excellent signalling, manoeuvrability and state of the art services.

Prow of a ship

Prow of a ship

Geographic location:

  • Latitude: 43º 22' 43''. 43N
  • Longitude: 03º 04' 57''

Wind pattern:

  • Prevailing: NW
  • Dominant: SW


  • Tidal range maximum 4.60 m.
  • Height above port zero level spring lower tide + 0.14 m.
  • Height above port zero sea level spring higher tide + 4.69 m

Harbour entrance conditions

The entrance mouth is at Punta Lucero between the breakwater of the same name, which is 2,488 metres long, and the outstanding tip of the breakwater at Punta Galea: the mouth is 500 metres wide, has a 32 metre draught and is NW oriented, which means that port entry direction for vessels should pass between both blocks and be SE.

Once the mouth has been entered, vessels should sail towards 120° and maintain that route for about 2 miles until passing the buoy that indicates the end of the breakwater at Zierbena, where a direction of 145° should be taken for 1 mile in order to pass the control tower at Santurtzi and the breakwater at Arriluce.

Pilot Service

Use of the pilot service is obligatory for vessels over 500 G.T. entering and leaving the Port, and contact must be made via Channel 12 VHF at least one hour before arriving at the Port. The pilot will set sail when the vessel concerned is two miles from the entrance mouth. For entry and leaving manoeuvres, Channel 6 VHF is to be used.


If according to the circumstances, it is not possible for a vessel to enter port upon its arrival, the pilot service will issue the appropriate instructions for it to drop anchor in one of the different existing points for this in the outer port. In such cases, in order to maintain the smooth running of port operations, the pilots will inform the Head of Operations of the Port of the time when the vessel will be able to berth.

Towage for manoeuvring

The use of tugs is obligatory for those vessels going to berth at hazardous goods terminals for bulks and the number of tugs to be used will depend on vessel tonnage. In other cases, it is the legal responsibility of the ship's captain, after receiving the pilot's advice, to ensure the safety of manoeuvres.

Berthing conditions

It is not necessary for those vessels going to berth at Santurtzi docks or in the outer port to wait for high tide: those berthing at river docks must wait for one hour before high tide in order to enter, unless their draughts are less than 4.5 metres.