Purpose. The article reveals the features of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), considers its condition, difficulties and problems, as well as development prospects.Methodology and Approach. The authors analyze the issues of updating the legal regulation of the NSR use; they are exploring the restructuring and increase in freight traffic, as well as measures to develop the Northern Sea Route, improve the organizational structure of management, ensure the safety of shipping, and develop port infrastructure in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. As research methods, systemic, content and statistical analysis, an institutional approach, as well as empirical research methods are used.Results. It reveals the measures taken by the Government of the Russian Federation to further develop the modern icebreaker fleet, as well as the advantages of the adopted innovative approach, which provides for the allocation of the Northern Sea Transport Corridor (SMTK) as an integral object for managing the development of the Russian Arctic transport system. It is noted that a new approach to the functioning of the Arctic marine transport system of Russia consists in a significant increase in its cargo transportation with the parallel development of the Russian Arctic territories within the framework of development support zones. The authors conclude that at present, the development of the NSR and SMTK as a whole is more aimed at solving the interlinked tasks of ensuring national security and the socio-economic development of the Russian Arctic.Theoretical / practical implication. The article outlines promising national and international aspects of the NSR and SMTK development, which can be implemented.