USCG Safety Requirements And Laws


If you have a recreational boat, then there are several rules and laws that you need to adhere to whenever you are on the water as per the USCG safety requirements.

These laws are enforced by the US coast guard. This federal body makes sure that there is proper compliance by all boats regarding equipment and boating safety laws.

While some factors such as painting for your deck with a boat deck paint may not be a big deal, other factors certainly are.

Not only is the boater required to observe the regulations, but he is also expected to ensure that he understands the USCG safety laws and regulations of the state in which he resides.

Some of these regulations require the boater to have certain safety equipment, to safely operate the vessel, and ensuring that the boat is registered and numbered correctly.

To make sure that you are observing the necessary laws and regulations, it is always prudent to contact your boating agency located in your area.

These are the USCG safety requirements.

Law enforcement

This provides details on the coast guard’s authority to board your boat and the fines and the penalties that can be imposed on you. Boating while under influence, operating your boat with negligence, can lead to termination of your vessel.

Where to place registration numbers on your boat

The US coast guard requires that you register your vessel in the state in which you reside. What’s more, the registration number needs to be positioned where it can be seen clearly on your boat.

If you want to polish your boat always use high-quality boat polish.

Once you have registered your vessel, the state is going to provide you with a registration certificate. This is going to contain the registration numbers of your boat. You can think of these as the license plates on the car and will equally need to be placed somewhere they can easily be seen.

You cannot just have them anywhere since in case of a situation nobody would know where to look for them. These are the steps to follow.

1. Registering your boat

Find the licensing agency in your state and register with it. You will be provided with a state sticker which you are going to place within 6 inches of the boat registration number.

2. Format the boat registration number

The US coast guard requires that the letters on your boat registration number be easily visible. For this, they must be plain, 3 inches in height, and the block.

The numbers need to also be read starting from the left to the right just as in an English sequence. This is for both sides of the boat.

What’s more, is that the color on the letters needs to contrast with the boat color so that they are easily visible from a distance away. If for example, you were to camouflage the registration numbers, you may have a bad run-in with the authorities.

Always make sure that you have the best boat anchor for your vessel. This has a significant impact on your safety.

You can enlist the help of friends or family to ensure that the numbers are easily readable.  While some people tend to be color blind, asking different people for their opinion, and having them all say that they can easily read means that you are on the safe side.

The registration number should be placed on either side of the bow. Make sure you do not add any other numbers here and only leave this area for your registration number.

If you like to prepare your catch on your boat, get yourself a good boat grill.

3. Displaying your registration number

The numbers should be displayed on the front of your boat. By this, we mean anywhere from the front to halfway the boat. You can find the mid-center of the boat and ensure that the space for placing your registration number is on the front half of the vehicle.

USCG safety equipment requirements


To ensure that boaters remain safe at all times, the US coast guard has certain USCG safety requirements for boats especially those that are up to 65 feet long. These include:

1. Visual distress signal

Boats that are between 16-26 feet are required by the US coast guard to have distress signaling devices that could be any of the following;

  • The handheld orange smoke distress signals as well as at least one electric distress light
  • One electric distress light and an orange distress flag
  • Day and night red flares that are a combination of three. These must be the parachute type, handheld, and meteor type.

Check out the coast guard requirements for boats over 16 feet.

2. Personal floatation device

Every person in the boat should be able to access a personal floatation device that is coast guard approved. Also, the boat needs to have type-V personal floatation devices. These can be thrown out to someone in the water.

3. Fire extinguisher

For boats that have an inboard engine, closed living spaces, internal sections where combustible materials are stored, as well as fuel tanks, you need to have a marine-type fire extinguisher type USCG B-1. This is as per the USCG safety laws.

4. Sound device

All boats must have a good way to make a sound signal. An air horn could work great or a whistle but the sound should never be produced by a human. You will use the sound signal when you are overtaking, meeting as well as crossing other vehicles, especially during low visibility.

Also, ensure that you are using the best quality marine battery.

5. Navigational lights

The navigational lights are required to be on between sunset and sunrise and when there is low visibility.

6. Ventilations

Boats that were built after 25th April 1940 and run by gasoline that is contained in an enclosed tank, with an enclosed engine, the boat must have ventilation. If the boat was built after July 31, 1980, it is required to have an exhaust blower as per the USCG safety laws.

You may also need to check the coast guard requirements for boats under 16 feet.

7. The backfire flame arrestor.

Boats manufactured after 25th April 1940 that run on gasoline must have a method for backfire flame control. Those that have an outboard motor however are exempted.

8. Marine sanitation device

If there is an installed toilet in your boat, then it needs to have a Coast guard certified operable marine sanitation device.

Another thing that you need to make sure is in top form is the bilge pump.

Globo Surf Overview

You will find all the necessary rules and USCG safety requirements from your state’s boating agency. Just make sure to adhere to them to avoid a run-in with the authorities when on your boat.

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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!