A Recreational Boater's guide to Federal Requirement

A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats And Safety Tips

Owners and operators of recreational boats must make sure that their vessel carries the required safety equipment (carriage requirement) and is in compliance with federal and state regulations.  This 84-page booklet contains detailed information on the minimum federal safety equipment requirements, along with a Quick Reference Chart, sample Float Plan and Pre-Departure Checklist, safety tips and additional safety equipment recommendations.  Among the topics:

  • Registration, numbering and documentation


  •  Equipment requirements, including life jackets, visual distress signals, fire extinguishers, ventilation, backfire flame control, sound producing devices, navigation lights, pollution regulations and marine sanitation devices.


  • Operating procedures, including navigation rules, nautical charts, dams and navigation locks.


  • Law enforcement issues, including negligent operation, boating under the influence (BUI), termination of use, boat accident reporting requirements, rendering assistance to other boaters and U.S. Coast Guard boarding policy.


  • Safety and survival tips, including carbon monoxide hazards, overloading, anchoring, cold water survival, trailering, safe refueling, propeller blade hazards, weather precautions and safety tips for vessels operating offshore.


  • Marine/emergency communications, including satellite EPIRBs, Digital Selective Calling, Rescue 21, radio regulations, VHF-FM marine radio channels, and ships in distress.


  • Other boater responsibilities, including bridges and shipping channels, commercial shipping safety zones, naval vessel protection zones and U.S. Coast Guard security/limited access areas.

Note that in addition to the minimum federal requirements stated here, the owner/operator may be required to comply with other regulations and/or laws specific to the state in which their recreational vessel is registered or operated. To ensure compliance with state boating laws, boaters should contact the appropriate boating agency in their area for additional information.

To view the Federal Requirements Brochure online, please visit http://www.uscgboating.org/fedreqs/default.html

To download a copy of the U/S. Coast Guard’s Federal Requirements Brochure for Recreational Boaters please click here.


Media and Marketing Materials

Members of the press, boating safety specialists and advocates, and the general public are invited to utilize any and all of the media and marketing materials in this section.


Photo Library

The U.S. Coast Guard has provided the Image Library as a resource tool for boating safety specialists, advocates and the general public.


Video Library

The U.S. Coast Guard has provided the Video Library as a resource tool for boating safety specialists, advocates and the general public.




   safe a float