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Boatbuilder's Handbook

Part 1—Regulations and Other Information


The Coast Guard has implemented a no cost program to test recreational boats, voluntarily provided by a manufacturer, for compliance with the following Federal safety standards: Safe Loading, Safe Powering, and Flotation. Under this program, manufacturers may request compliance testing early in a production run. Early testing can minimize the financial risk associated with Coast Guard imposed recalls and reduce the number of non-complying boats reaching the public.

Points to consider for this voluntary program are:

  1. Testing is free.
  2. Boats provided are to be less than twenty feet in length.
  3. Boats that fail testing will be retested after the manufacturer’s corrections are made.
  4. If the boat fails testing and the number of boats in the production run is small a formal recall will not be implemented; however, all boats in the production run are expected to be corrected.
  5. If the boat fails testing and the number of boats in the production run is significant, a formal recall may be implemented. Therefore, test early in a production run to minimize the risk of a recall.
  6. The manufacturer may bring in boats for testing, or the Coast Guard will pick up and return boats, at no charge, that are voluntarily provided.
  7. Manufacturers may witness testing and ask questions about testing methods, techniques, and procedures.
  8. Boats voluntarily provided may have 1/4 inch holes drilled at selected location on the top sides and sole to let air escape during testing.
  9. Boats provided will be submerged for 18 hours before testing. Flotation foam in the boat may absorb water during this process and may retain this water after testing.

We encourage you to consider voluntary compliance testing as part of your business strategy. It is free, it helps ensure that your product meets minimum safety standards, and it reduces the risk of a costly recall campaign in the future. If you would like more information about voluntary boat testing or Federal safety standards, please contact the Office of Boating Safety at 202-372-1077. 

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