Boat Manufacturing Standards


Most recreational boats sold in the U.S. must meet the following minimal federal manufacturing standards, some of which don't apply to canoes, kayaks and inflatables, sailboats without gas engines, or to diesel-powered boats.

Hull Identification Number (HIN)

Identifies builder, model, and year. Cannot be altered, aids in identifying lost and stolen boats.

Maximum Passenger, Weight and Horsepower Capacities

Applies to boats under 20 feet. Exceeding these capacities will make the boat unsafe to operate.

Flotation Standards

Ensure that a swamped/capsized boat under 20 feet will remain partially afloat.

Fuel Systems

For fuel tanks, hoses, pumps and fills, to decrease risk of fire/explosion on gas-powered boats.

Electrical Systems

For electrical components, wires and conductors, to decrease risk of shock, fire and explosion on gas-powered boats.

Ventilation Systems

Requires powered and natural venting to decrease risk of fire/explosion on gas-powered boats, including outboards with installed fuel tanks.

Call the U.S. Coast Guard at 800-368-5647 or go to for more information. In addition, industry advisory groups like the American Boat & Yacht Council have established more far-reaching voluntary standards incorporated in the NMMA certification program.