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46 CFR: The Complete Shipping Regulations for U.S. Waters

What is 46 CFR and why is it important for shipping?

If you are involved in any aspect of shipping within the United States or with US vessels abroad, you need to be familiar with Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This is the portion of the CFR that governs shipping for the United States Coast Guard, the United States Maritime Administration, and the United States Maritime Commission.

Title 46 is divided into four chapters and several subchapters, parts, sections, and appendices that cover a wide range of topics related to shipping, such as vessel inspection, marine engineering, load lines, marine casualties, merchant marine officers, dangerous cargoes, nautical schools, etc.

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Why is Title 46 important? Because it provides the minimum standards, procedures, and rules that ensure the safety, security, and efficiency of shipping in the US and abroad. By complying with Title 46, you can avoid accidents, injuries, fines, penalties, delays, or legal troubles that may arise from violating the regulations.

How to access 46 CFR online and offline?

There are several ways to access Title 46 depending on your preference and convenience. Here are some of them:


The easiest way to access Title 46 online is through the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) website. This is a continuously updated online version of the CFR that is not an official legal edition but is an accurate representation of the current regulations.

To navigate the eCFR website, you can use the table of contents on the left side of the page to browse by title, chapter, subchapter, part, or section. You can also use the search box on the top right corner of the page to enter keywords or phrases related to your query.

For example, if you want to find out about the requirements for small passenger vessels under 100 gross tons, you can enter "small passenger vessels" in the search box and click on "Search". You will get a list of results that match your query. You can then click on "Title 46 Chapter I Subchapter T" to see the relevant part (175-187) and sections.


If you prefer to have a printed or PDF version of Title 46, you can obtain it from various sources. One source is the Government Publishing Office (GPO), which publishes an annual edition of the CFR as well as monthly updates. You can order printed copies or download PDF files from their website or bookstore.

Another source is Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute (LII), which provides free access to PDF files of Title 46. You can download individual parts or sections or the entire title as a single file.

How to use 46 CFR for different purposes?

Depending on your role and interest in shipping, you may use Title 46 for different purposes, such as compliance, reference, or education. Here are some tips on how to use Title 46 effectively for each purpose:

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If you are a ship owner, operator, builder, designer, engineer, crew member, or any other person or entity involved in the construction, operation, or maintenance of a vessel, you need to comply with the applicable regulations in Title 46. Failure to do so may result in fines, penalties, suspension, revocation, or seizure of your vessel or license.

To check the applicability and requirements of Title 46 for your vessel, you need to identify the following factors:

  • The type and size of your vessel (e.g., passenger vessel, cargo vessel, fishing vessel, recreational vessel, etc.)

  • The area and mode of operation of your vessel (e.g., inland waters, coastal waters, ocean waters, domestic trade, foreign trade, etc.)

  • The personnel and qualifications required for your vessel (e.g., officers, engineers, seamen, pilots, etc.)

Once you have identified these factors, you can use the table of contents or the search function of the eCFR website to find the relevant parts and sections of Title 46 that apply to your vessel. For example, if you have a small passenger vessel under 100 gross tons that operates on inland waters in domestic trade, you need to comply with the regulations in Subchapter T (Parts 175-187) of Chapter I.


If you are a researcher, educator, student, lawyer, journalist, or any other person or entity interested in learning more about shipping regulations in the US or abroad, you may use Title 46 as a source of information and reference. Title 46 contains a wealth of data and details about various aspects of shipping that can help you with your projects, assignments, reports, articles, or cases.

To find and cite information from Title 46 for your purpose, you need to follow these steps:

  • Identify the topic or question that you want to explore or answer (e.g., what are the safety standards for life-saving appliances on passenger vessels?)

  • Use the table of contents or the search function of the eCFR website to locate the relevant parts and sections of Title 46 that address your topic or question (e.g., Part 199 Subpart B)