The U.S. Coast Guard is the federal regulating agency for recreational boats. As such, the Coast Guard issues boating safety recommendations and ensures the proper compliance with federal boating safety laws and equipment requirements. Every boater is responsible for knowing and adhering to Coast Guard boating laws and regulations, and laws specific to the state in which the vessel is registered or operated. This includes carrying at least the minimum safety equipment, registering and numbering your boat properly, and the safe operation of your vessel.
This is a guide to the federal boating laws enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard. To ensure compliance with state boating laws, you should contact the appropriate boating agency in your area. Each of the following segments detail the specific laws and regulations boaters will need to follow:
Law enforcement - details the Coast Guard's authority to board your boat, fines and penalties they can impose, boating under the influence, negligent operation, and termination of use of your vessel.
Vessel Numbering and Registration - details on properly registering your boat and placing the numbers on the hull.
Safety Equipment Requirements by Boat Size - details the Coast Guard boating safety equipment requirements for recreational boats up to 65 feet.