Standards and Certification

Throughout this website I reference the American Boat and Yacht Council standards.  Even though this site is primarily about United States Coast Guard regulations, any person entering the marine business, building, designing or repairing boats, should join ABYC.  See Also Standards Societies.

See The ABYC Channel on

In the USA, most industries attempt to regulate themselves.   They believe that Federal regulations should be enacted only when necessary  to protect the public, and that they should reflect what the industry and the public already believe is a necessity for the safety and environmental health of the people and the country.  To this end almost every industry in the USA has a separate, independent organization that develops standards for that industry. Probably the most well known of these organizations is the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) which develops standards for everything automotive, and some for the marine and aircraft industry as well.  Another is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which develops standards to prevent fire and for other safety issues in the home and business.

In the marine industry this is the American Boat and Yacht Council.

ABYC has a small, professional staff that oversees and administers the organization, but they do not determine the standards. That is done by the volunteer membership of ABYC.  ABYC (as of 07/20/2015) has about 3200 members.  About 2400 are marine related businesses,  about 480 are manufacturers and about 300 are individual members, like me.  ABYC membership is open to anyone who takes an interest in boats, boating and the safety of boats.  However, as shown in the above numbers, most of it's members come from the marine industry.  Almost all of the US Coast Guard standards for recreational boats were originally developed by ABYC and it's predecessor the Yacht Safety Bureau, in affiliation with the US Coast Guard and the Boating Industry Association (now the National Marine Manufacturers Association, NMMA).  USCG personnel are active members of ABYC and sit on many of it's committees to protect the public interest.

ABYC functions by committees.  Each committee develops standards for a specific subject, such as Electrical Systems, Fuel Systems, Flotation,  Fire Fighting Systems, and so on.  There are 66 standards, and 17 committees.  The committees are made up of volunteers from the membership.  Many of the members of each committee are from the boatbuilding sector, and the industry that manufactures the systems involved, but also committee members are marine surveyors, repairers, designers, US Coast Guard, and the general boating public.  ABYC staff, in picking the members of each committee, try to balance the membership so that no particular interest group controls the committee.  Additionally, non-voting (that is not a member of the committee) ABYC members and interested parties may participate in meetings and give their opinions on standards being developed. An ABYC technical board oversees the activities of all committees and reviews the standards as they are developed. All standards are published for comment by anyone, and voted on by the ABYC membership, so that they are truly a consensus standard.  See more about this.

The ABYC standards are used by most of the marine industry in the USA, Canada and many other countries, and were heavily referenced by the International Standards Organization (ISO) when developing their own standards.  ABYC is a member of ISO, and of the American National Standards Institute which oversees all standards societies in the USA.

As part of membership you have immediate access to all of the ABYC Standards, either in book, CD, or on-line, and to ISO standards and the USCG regulations.

So if you are going to build boats, join ABYC!  You will be glad you did.

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ABYC Blogposts:  Articles on standards.  Available to everyone, no membership or logon required.


In addition to settings standards, ABYC offers education and training programs for marine technicians.  At the end of each program, a technician can take exams leading to certification in their specialty.  The programs include Electrical Systems, Marine Corrosion, Marine Systems, ABYC Standards, Marine Composites, and Air Condition/Refrigeration Systems. See ABYC's education programs.

The instructors for these courses are some of the top professionals in the marine industry.  These are experienced technicians who have also published books and articles on their specialty, and who have taught at educational institutions, conferences, and seminars.  If they don't know the answer to your question they know who does!

Marine certification is a valuable tool for boat manufacturers and marine repairers to assure their customers that boats and repairs are done to the highest standards.  Anyone can take the courses but prices are reduced for ABYC members.

The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) also has an online marine training platform which hosts multi-module courses, interactive learning tools and on-demand webinars. Students will have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and save in travel expenses to attend on-site courses.  This is only available to ABYC members.  See the program.

So if you are going to repair boats, join ABYC!  You will be glad you did.

Marine Insurance: 

ABYC has a cooperative agreement with Great American Insurance Company to provide Marine Artisan Insurance policies for companies in the marine industry :  See Information on Insurance.

Certified Component Program:

ABYC has a  program to certify that marine products meet ABYC standards.  See the certified component program. 

This is accomplished through the International Marine Certification Institute (IMCI)

Inquire with ABYC for more information.

American Boat And Yacht Council  Boat Design Net  Wooden Boat Foundation

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