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US Coast Guard Equipment Requirements

Lighting

Coast Guard minimum equipment requirements vary with the size of your boat, type of propulsion, whether operated at night or in periods of reduced visibility, and, in some cases, the body of water on which it is used. Boats carrying passengers for hire have additional equipment requirements. For more complete details on how many and what types of equipment you must have aboard your boat, view the USCG Navigation Rules (often called the Rules of the Road).

Boat light

Please note that requirements shown below hold true for most areas, but local regulations are intricate. Be sure to check with your local government for marine safety regulations in your area and the Navigation Rules cited in the preceding paragraph.

Navigation (Running) Lights

Required on boats between sunset and sunrise. A sailboat under motor only, or under sail and motor, is considered a powerboat, and must display appropriate lights.

Boats under 12 meters(39.4')
Sailboats-Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 1 n.m. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m. OR, tri-color masthead light.

Powerboats-Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 1 n.m., placed above hull at least 1 meter (3.3') below masthead light. Masthead: white, 225°, visible 2 n.m., at least 1 meter above side lights. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m. OR, one all-round (360°) white light (should also have sidelights).

Boats under 12 meters (39.4') to 20 meters (65.6')
Sailboats-Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 2 n.m. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m. OR, tri-color masthead light.

Powerboats-Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 2 n.m., placed above hull at least 1 meter (3.3') below masthead light. Masthead: white, 225°, visible 3 n.m., at least 1 meter above side lights. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m.

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Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. Published six times a year, it provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.