What Life Jackets Are Required on Recreational Boats?

On recreational boats, an approved life jacket that is the correct size for the wearer and in good condition must be available for each person. Owners and masters who do not have enough lifejackets on board, or who do not have their passengers wear life jackets when required, are liable for penalties.

In general, Federal law requires that boaters must have a Coast Guard-approved wearable, life jacket (Type I, II, or III) for each person onboard the vessel. Boats greater than 16 feet in length must carry a Coast Guard-approved throwable device (Type IV).

On a vessel that is underway, children under 13 years of age must wear an appropriate U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jacket unless they are below deck, or within an enclosed cabin. If a state has established a child life jacket wear requirement that differs from the Coast Guard requirement, the state requirement will be applicable on waters subject to that state's jurisdiction.

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