46 U.S.C.
United States Code, 2017 Edition
Title 46 - SHIPPING
Subtitle II - Vessels and Seamen
Part B - Inspection and Regulation of Vessels
Sec. 4302 - Regulations
From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov

§4302. Regulations

(a) The Secretary may prescribe regulations—

(1) establishing minimum safety standards for recreational vessels and associated equipment, and establishing procedures and tests required to measure conformance with those standards, with each standard—

(A) meeting the need for recreational vessel safety; and

(B) being stated, insofar as practicable, in terms of performance;

(2) requiring the installation, carrying, or use of associated equipment (including fuel systems, ventilation systems, electrical systems, sound-producing devices, firefighting equipment, lifesaving devices, signaling devices, ground tackle, life- and grab-rails, and navigational equipment) on recreational vessels and classes of recreational vessels subject to this chapter, and prohibiting the installation, carrying, or use of associated equipment that does not conform with safety standards established under this section; and

(3) requiring or permitting the display of seals, labels, plates, insignia, or other devices for certifying or evidencing compliance with safety regulations and standards of the United States Government for recreational vessels and associated equipment.

(b) Each regulation prescribed under this section shall specify an effective date that is not earlier than 180 days from the date the regulation was published, unless the Secretary finds that there exists a recreational vessel safety hazard so critical as to require an earlier effective date. However, this period may not be more than 24 months for cases involving, in the discretion of the Secretary, major product design, retooling, or major changes in the manufacturing process.

(c) In prescribing regulations under this section, the Secretary shall, among other things—

(1) consider the need for and the extent to which the regulations will contribute to recreational vessel safety;

(2) consider relevant available recreational vessel safety standards, statistics, and data, including public and private research, development, testing, and evaluation;

(3) not compel substantial alteration of a recreational vessel or item of associated equipment that is in existence, or the construction or manufacture of which is begun before the effective date of the regulation, but subject to that limitation may require compliance or performance, to avoid a substantial risk of personal injury to the public, that the Secretary considers appropriate in relation to the degree of hazard that the compliance will correct; and

(4) consult with the National Boating Safety Advisory Council established under section 13110 of this title about the considerations referred to in clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection.

(d) Section 8903 of this title does not apply to a vessel being operated for bona fide dealer demonstrations provided without fee to business invitees. However, if on the basis of substantial evidence, the Secretary decides under this section that requiring vessels so operated to be under the control of licensed individuals is necessary for boating safety, then the Secretary may prescribe regulations requiring the licensing of individuals controlling these vessels in the same manner as provided in chapter 89 of this title for individuals in control of vessels carrying passengers for hire.

(e)(1) Under this section, a model year for recreational vessels and associated equipment shall, except as provided in paragraph (2)—

(A) begin on June 1 of a year and end on July 31 of the following year; and

(B) be designated by the year in which it ends.

(2) Upon the request of a recreational vessel manufacturer to which this chapter applies, the Secretary may alter a model year for a model of recreational vessel of the manufacturer and associated equipment, by no more than 6 months from the model year described in paragraph (1).

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 530; Pub. L. 114–120, title III, §303(a), Feb. 8, 2016, 130 Stat. 53.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4302 46:1454





Section 4302 authorizes the Secretary to prescribe regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter. In lieu of establishing specific statutory safety requirements, subsection (a) provides flexible regulatory authority to establish uniform standards for the design, construction, materials, and performance of the boats themselves and all associated equipment. It also provides for the display of seals and other devices for certifying or evidencing compliance with applicable safety regulations or standards.

Section 4302(b) requires a regulation prescribed under this section to have an effective date that is not earlier than 180 days from publication. However, in those instances where a safety hazard may be critical an earlier effective date is authorized.

Section 4302(c) requires the Secretary to consider certain objectives in developing regulatory controls and regulations or standards and that there must be an effective consultation process.

Section 4302(d) exempts dealer demonstration boats from the requirement of having to be named by a licensed individual when demonstrating boats to prospective purchasers or other business invitees when no fees are charged. The Secretary may require that boats so used be under control of a licensed individual.


2016—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 114–120 added subsec. (e).

Effective Date of 2016 Amendment

Pub. L. 114–120, title III, §303(b), Feb. 8, 2016, 130 Stat. 53, provided that: "This section [amending this section] shall only apply with respect to recreational vessels and associated equipment constructed or manufactured, respectively, on or after the date of enactment of this Act [Feb. 8, 2016]."

Availability and Use of EPIRBs for Recreational Vessels

Pub. L. 105–383, title III, §309, Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat. 3422, provided that: "The Secretary of Transportation, through the Coast Guard and in consultation with the National Transportation Safety Board and recreational boating organizations, shall, within 24 months of the date of the enactment of this Act [Nov. 13, 1998], assess and report to Congress on the use of emergency position indicating beacons (EPIRBs) and similar devices by operators of recreational vessels on the Intracoastal Waterway and operators of recreational vessels beyond the Boundary Line. The assessment shall at a minimum—

"(1) evaluate the current availability and use of EPIRBs and similar devices by the operators of recreational vessels and the actual and potential contribution of such devices to recreational boating safety; and

"(2) provide recommendations on policies and programs to encourage the availability and use of EPIRBS [sic] and similar devices by the operators of recreational vessels."