What are the Coast Guard Boat Safety Requirements?

Before you think about where to go and how to catch fish, you should first think about how you can document your boat, since yours is more than five net tons. One of the Coast Guard boat requirements is to ensure that your vessel has the right pieces of safety equipment. 

Safety Coast Guard Boat Requirements

When it comes to boating, safety must always be your top priority. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) sets and enforces specific safety requirements. These will ensure the safety of recreational and commercial boaters. The regulations protect boaters, passengers, and the environment. 

Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Every boat must have an appropriate number of life jackets or PFDs on board. And they are not just life jackets or PFDs. They must be approved by the Coast Guard. The number and type required depend on the size of the boat and the number of passengers. It is vital to ensure that PFDs are always in good condition. They must also be easily accessible and properly fitted for every individual. 

Fire Extinguishers

Your boat must have USCG-approved fire extinguishers on board. This is especially true if you have an engine, fuel tanks, or enclosed compartments. The number and size of fire extinguishers required depend on the size of the boat and the presence of specific fire hazards. Regular inspection and maintenance of fire extinguishers are vital to ensure their effectiveness in case of an emergency. 

Navigation Light

Boats operating between sunset and sunrise or in a period of reduced visibility must have proper navigation lights. They can help other boaters identify your boat’s position, direction, and status. The Coast Guard specifies the type, color, and placement of navigation lights based on the size and type of your vessel. 

Sound-Producing Devices

Every boat must also carry an efficient sound-producing device, like a whistle, horn, or bell. They can signal your boat’s presence and intentions. These devices are vital for alerting nearby boats in situations where visual communication may be limited or obstructed. 

Visual Distress Girls

If you are on coastal water or the Great Lakes, your vessel must carry visual distress signals approved by the USCG. These signals include smoke signals, flares, and other devices that you can use to attract attention and indicate distress in case of an emergency. 


Boats with enclosed compartments, spaces containing fuel-burning appliances, or permanent fuel tanks must have proper ventilation systems. They can help in minimizing the risk of fire or explosion. Proper airflow can prevent the accumulation of flammable fumes. 

Once you have bought and installed these pieces of equipment on your boat, you are now ready for inspection. Before you can obtain a Certificate of Documentation, the USCG will first schedule an inspection to determine whether or not your vessel meets its requirements. If your boat lacks one or some of them, the USCG will not issue this certificate. 

Coast Guard Boat Requirements

Complete the Requirements 

Before you even apply for a COD, make sure that your boat meets the Coast Guard boat requirements. Contact us to know more about them.