Federal Requirements and Safety Tips for Recreational Boats
Quick Reference Chart
Vessel Length (in feet)
|All undocumented vessels equipped with propulsion machinery must be State registered. Certificate of Number must be on board when vessel is in use. Note: some States require all vessels to be registered.|
Plain Block letters/numbers not less than 3 inches in height must be
affixed on each side of the forward half of the vessel (Contrasting
color to boat exterior).
(b) State validation sticker must be affixed within six inches of the registration number
|X||X||X||Certificate of Documentation||Applies only to
"Documented" vessels: (a) Original
and current certificate must be on board
(b) Vessel name/hailing port marked on exterior part of hull -- letters not less than 4 inches in height.
(c) Official Number permanently affixed on interior structure -- numbers not less than 3 inches in height.
|X||X||X||X||Life Jackets (PFDs)||(a) One Type I, II, III, or V wearable PFD for each person on board. (must be USCG approved)|
|X||X||X||(b) In addition to paragraph (a), must carry One Type IV (throwable) PFD.|
|X||X||X||X||Visual Distress Signal (VDS)||(a)
One electric distress light or Three combination
(day/night) red flares.
Note: only required to be carried on board when operating between sunset and sunrise.
(b) One orange distress flag and One electric distress light - or -Three hand-held or floating orange smoke signals and One electric distress light - or - Three combination (day/night) red flares: hand-held, meteor or parachute type.
|Vessel Length (in feet)||Equipment||Requirement|
One B-I (when enclosed compartment)
(b) One B-II or Two B-I. Note: fixed system equals One B-I
|X||(c) One B-II and One B-I or Three B-I. Note: fixed system equals One B-I or Two B-II|
(a) All vessels built after 25 April 1940 that use
gasoline as their fuel with enclosed engine and /or fuel tank
compartments must have natural ventilation (at least two ducts fitted
|X||X||X||Sound Producing Devices||(a) A vessel 39.4 ft must, at a minimum, have some means of making an "efficient" sound signal - (i.e. handheld air horn, athletic whistle - Human voice/ sound not acceptable).|
|X||X||(b) A vessel 39.4 ft (12 meters) or greater, must have a sound signaling appliance capable of producing an efficient sound signaI, audible for 1/2 mile with a 4 to 6 seconds duration. In addition, must carry on board a bell with a clapper (bell size not less than 7.9 inches - based on the diameter of the mouth)|
|X||X||X||X||Backfire Flame Arrestor||Required on gasoline engines installed after 25 April 1940, except outboard motors|
|X||X||X||X||Navigational Lights||Required to be displayed from sunset to sunrise and in or near areas of reduced visibility.|
|X||X||Oil Pollution Placard||(a)
Placard must be at least 5 by 8 inches, made of
(b) Placard must be posted in the machinery space or at the bilge station.
Placard must be at least 4 by 9 inches, made of
(b) Displayed in a conspicuous place notifying all on board the discharge restrictions.
|X||X||X||X||Marine Sanitation Device||If installed toilet: Vessel must have an operable MSD TypeI, II, or III.|
|The operator of a vessel 39.4 ft (12 meters) or greater must have on board a copy of these rules.|
as of 2006