Coast Guard Requirements For Boats Between 26 And 40 Feet


If you are a boat owner, you probably already know that boating safety is crucial. Also, you probably know that Coast Guard has boating safety requirements for all boats whose length does not exceed 65 feet.

What you may not be familiar with is the United States Coast Guard (USCG) rules for boats whose length ranges between 26 and 40 feet. In this article, we will be taking you through the Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet.

Important Coast Guard Requirements for Boats 26 to 40 Feet

The State Registration

Before using your boat’s steering wheel, you need to ensure that the boat features a State Registration or a Certificate of Number.

The State Letters and Numbering

According to the USCG, the state letters and numbering should be:

  • At least 3 inches in height.
  • Available on both sides of the boat’s forward part.
  • In contrasting color to the one on your boat.

Additionally, the boat must feature a state decal within approximately 6 inches of its registration number.

Certificate of Documentation

This is one of the Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet applying to documented vessels only. If your boat is documented, before you invest in accessories such as marine speakers and marine amplifiers, make sure you have both the current and original certificates on board.

The name of the boat should be on the exterior of the hull and should be at least 4 inches in height. The official number should not be less than 3 inches in height and should be affixed permanently on the boat’s interior structure.

Personal Floatation Device

Before starting your boating trip, make sure you have at least one clean life jacket for each individual on your boat. It is important to note that the ideal life jacket has to be approved by the Coast Guard. Also, you will need to have at least 1 type V, a throwable type of personal floatation device.

Irrespective of how good you are at swimming, you should always have a personal floatation device on the boat, even if you are cruising alone. Accidents do occur when you are too far from the shore.

Visual Distress Signal

Your boat is supposed to have 1 electric distress light and 1 orange distress flag, or 3 floating or hand-held orange smoke signals and 1 electric distress light. Alternatively, you can invest in 3-combination (day/night) red flares: parachute, meteor, or hand-held type. Irrespective of the type of boat you are using, armed with these distress signals, calling for help should be easy.

Fire Extinguisher

 A fire extinguisher is recommended for a boat that has all or one of the following features:

  • Closed living spaces.
  • Enclosed compartments where you store fuel, or combustible and flammable materials.
  • Permanently installed fuel tanks.

The fire extinguisher can come in handy in case an unexpected accident causes a fire on the boat. According to the Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet, you can use either 2 B-I fire extinguishers or 1 marine type USCG B-II fire extinguisher.


If the boat you invested in was built after 25th April 1940 and makes use of gasoline in a fuel tank compartment or enclosed engine, it has to feature natural ventilation. If the boat was built after 31 July 1980, it should feature an exhaust blower.

Sound Producing Device


When we say “Sound Producing Device”, we are referring to a sufficient way of making a sound signal, like an air horn or a whistle. The sound shouldn’t be human noise, however.

Additionally, if your boat’s length exceeds 39.4 feet, it should feature a sound signaling appliance that has the ability to produce an efficient sound signal. The signal should be audible for approximately 0.5 miles within a period of 4 – 6 seconds. Whenever you decide to take out your well-maintained boat trailer and head to the waters with your boat, you need to ensure you have a bell featuring a clapper and a mouth at least 7.9 inches in diameter.

Navigation Lights

Being stuck in the dark while boating is never a good idea. To make sure that this does not happen, the United States Coast Guard has included navigation lights in the Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet.

If you are planning on using your boat and marine GPS overnight, you should have navigation lights on the boat. These are supposed to be used from the sunset to sunrise.

Marine Sanitation Device (MSD)

If your boat features a marine toilet, you should have an operable MSD. You can get a Type I, Type II, or Type III MSD.

Oil Pollution Placard

This placard is supposed to be posted at the bilge station or in the machinery space.

Garbage Placard

This is one of the Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet which help keep the waters safe. The placard is supposed to be at least 4 inches by 9 inches and made of durable material. You are supposed to display it in a place where everyone on board your boat can see the discharge restrictions.

Inland Navigation Rules

If your boat size does not exceed 39.4 feet, this is one of the Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet which won’t apply to you. For people whose boats are longer than 39.4 feet, a copy of the inland navigation rules is supposed to be always on board.

Globo Surf Overview

While the above Coast Guard requirements for boats 26 to 40 feet may appear quite demanding, the United States Coast Guard designed them to ensure that everyone stays safe while exploring the waters. While you may need additional money, after paying for your boat, to ensure that the boat is complying with the rules, the money is worth spending.

As you have probably noticed already, some of the Coast Guard requirements for boats outlined above, only apply to certain boats. Learning and understanding the relevant rules and also taking action can help you make your next boating trip much more enjoyable.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!