Regulations – United States

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In the United States, Statutes include the United States Code (USC) especially Titles 33 and 46, and regulations such as the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) especially Titles 33 and 46.

The USCG produced the following pamphlets to help recreational boaters and commercial fishermen comply with the Federal Requirements. Click the pamphlets to view or download.

USCG Requirements for RecBoats Pg1 - 420CLICK HERE for “A Boater’s Guide To The Federal Requirements For Recreational Boats” Pamphlet from the USCG Website – OR from the AEABoats Archive

CLICK HERE for Recreational Vessel Safety Check information

USCG Requirements for ComFishingVessels_Page_1

CLICK HERE for “Federal Requirements For Commercial Fishing Industry Vessels” Pamphlet from the USCG Website – OR from the AEABoats Archive

CLICK HERE for Commercial Fishing Vessel Dockside Safety Examination information

Title 33 and Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations are frequently consulted by Boatbuilders, Marine equipment manufactures, Classification societies, engineering firms, deck officers on oceangoing vessels, and marine engineers.

See the Code of Federal Regulations that pertain to Recreational Boating Safety online

See the United State Code that pertain to Recreational Boating Safety online

UNITED STATES CODE

The Code of Laws of the United States of America (variously abbreviated to Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, U.S. Code, U.S.C., or USC) is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States. It contains 52 titles. The two titles of particular interest to mariners and the marine industry are Titles 33 and 46.

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations (sometimes called administrative law) published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States. The CFR is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to federal regulation. The two titles of particular interest to mariners and the marine industry are Titles 33 and 46. While they may appear similar to the titles in the U. S. Code, they are NOT the same.


The US has participated in the SOLAS, MARPOL, Load Line and Collision Regulations Conventions, and joined the resulting treaties.

SOLAS CONVENTION

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime safety treaty. It ensures that ships flagged by signatory States comply with minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation. The Radio watchkeeping requirements are promulgated by it. The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.

MARPOL CONVENTION

MARPOL is short for marine pollution. MARPOL 73/78 (short for the years 1973 and 1978) is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions. It was designed to minimize pollution of the seas, including dumping, oil and exhaust pollution. Its stated object is to preserve the marine environment through the complete elimination of pollution by oil and other harmful substances and the minimization of accidental discharge of such substances. All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered under their respective nationalities.

LOAD LINES CONVENTION

The International Convention on Load Lines (CLL) was signed in London on 5 April 1966, amended by the 1988 Protocol and further revised in 2003. The 1988 Protocol was adopted to harmonise the survey and certification requirement of the 1966 Convention with those contained in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and MARPOL 73/78.

According to the CLL 66/88, all assigned load lines must be marked amidships on each side of the ships engaged in international voyages. The determinations of the freeboard of ships are calculated and/or verified by classification societies which issue International Load Line Certificates in accordance with the legislation of participating States. This Convention provides for the terms of ship’s surveys, issuance, duration, validity and acceptance of International Load Line Certificates, as well as relevant State control measures, agreed exemptions and exceptions.

Annexes to the Convention contain various regulations for determining load lines, including details of marking and verification of marks, conditions of assignment of freeboard, freeboard tables and corrections, special provisions for ships intended for the carriage of timber and the prescribed form of International Load Line Certificates. Also taken into account are the potential hazards present in different zones and different seasons and additional safety measures concerning doors, hatchways etc.

IMCO COLLISION REGULATIONS TREATY (72COLREGS)

Sometimes referred to as the Rules of the Road, the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea, 1972 (72COLREGS) are the Navigation Rules  (COLREGS when in International Waters or waters outside the COLREGS Demarcation Line or Inland Navigation Rules inside the Demarcation Lines) are regulations which aid mariners in safe navigation, just as driving laws aid vehicles in safe driving. Professional Mariners must be proficient in the Rules of the Road but all mariners should know and understand the Rules.  The Rules are legally binding and application of them makes the waterways safer for everyone.

The International Rules were formalized in the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, and became effective on July 15, 1977. The United States has ratified this treaty and all United States flag vessels must adhere to these Rules. President Ford proclaimed the 72 COLREGS and the Congress adopted them as the International Navigation Rules Act of 1977.

Per 33 CFR 83.01(g), the operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters (39.37 feet) or more in length shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules. Electronic copies of the Navigation Rules are acceptable, however, only if they are currently corrected to the latest Notice to Mariners and can be made available for ready reference.  The unwritten rule of thumb: ‘readily’ means that you are able to avail yourself of a Rule(s) within 2 minutes of the need to do so.

Navrules_lgClick Here to view the latest version of the COLREGS

The 72 COLREGS were developed by the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO), which has since been renamed the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  The IMO has adopted 86 amendments to the COLREGS, the most recent of which was in 2007.


Section Under Development

Hull Identification (HIN & MIC) with Manufacturers Recalls

More from USCG Manufacurers Identification Code (MIC) Database


NVIC (Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars)

A Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular provides detailed guidance about the enforcement or compliance with a certain Federal marine safety regulations and Coast Guard marine safety programs.  While NVIC’s are non-directive, meaning that they do not have the force of law, they are important “tools” for complying with the law.  Non-compliance with a NVIC is not a violation of the law in and of itself, however non-compliance with a NVIC may be an indication that there is non-compliance with a law, a regulation or a policy.

NVIC’s are used internally by the Coast Guard to ensure that inspections and other regulatory actions conducted by our field personnel are adequate, complete and consistent.  Likewise, mariners, the marine industry and the general public use NVIC’s as means of determining how the Coast Guard will be enforcing certain regulations or conducting various marine safety programs.  NVIC’s are issued by the Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy (CG-5P) and address a wide variety of subjects, including: vessel construction features; mariner training and licensing requirements; inspection methods and testing techniques; safety and security procedures; requirements for certain Coast Guard regulatory processes; manning requirements; equipment approval methods; and special hazards.

NVIC’s are numbered consecutively by year, e.g., NVIC 7-02 would be the seventh NVIC issued in 2002.  The “zero” NVIC, numbered 00, is always the index of NVIC’s in force or still current at the beginning of the calendar year.  For example, NVIC 00-07 is a list of all NVIC’s in effect as of January 1, 2007.

Click Here to see the complete listing of NVIC’s by year

More about NVIC from the USCG website: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/


In addition to the federal laws and regulations, many individual states, districts, counties, and municipalities have their own laws, ordinances and regulations.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators offers a reference guide to promote greater uniformity in state boating laws and to facilitate the enforcement and administration of such laws. CLICK HERE to view the NASBLA Boating Law Manual Online.

Next section Under Development

See Directory of United States below for additional laws, requirements, etc.
STATES
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Federal District
Washington, D.C.
US Territories
American Samoa
Guam
Northern Mariana Islands
Puerto Rico
US Virgin Island



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