The concept of the Northern Marine Transportation Corridors (NMTC) initiative was developed under the Government of Canada World‐Class Tanker Safety System Initiative (WCTSS). The NMTC is an interdepartmental Arctic initiative within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), through the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS), in collaboration with Transport Canada (TC). The NMTC initiative was developed to strengthen the safety of marine navigation in the Arctic, and to offer an efficient planning guide for present and future Arctic investments. Transportation corridors identified through this initiative will provide the Government of Canada the framework needed to better prioritize and deliver on its programs and services, including: nautical charts and products; aids to navigation; icebreaking services; and marine safety regulations. The corridors were generated and analyzed with a Geographic Information System (GIS) using two main data sources: the Automated Identification System (AIS) and CHS's nautical charts and publications. The geographic extent of the NMTC is defined as the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Service Zone (NORDREG Zone) and the Mackenzie River. With close to 4 million km2 of water in the Arctic and 162,000 km of coastline, surveying the Arctic to modern standards represents an enormous challenge to CHS. By adopting a corridor‐based approach, CHS and other government programs can prioritize their efforts on 12% of the Canadian Arctic waters. CHS currently has 32% of the NMTC adequately surveyed, with an additional 3% surveyed to modern standards.