What warning labels are required on recreational boats? Safe load capacity, blower warning labels, certification labels and more. 

Capacity Labels: 33 CFR 181.21 -181.27 Monohull boats under 20 feet except canoes, kayaks, inflatables, and sailboats, are required to have a capacity label. The label in figure 1, is for outboard boats, rowboats, pedal boats and the like. The dimensions given are the minimum allowed. It is suggested you make them larger. This label is there for people to see, so make it visible. Also it must be placed where the operator of the boat can easily see it. So don't hide it. It must be permanently affixed, meaning it's not supposed to fall off, come unglued or whatever. However, don't put it on with screws because then it can be easily removed. You want this to stay with the boat, forever! It also has to be made so it won't fade in the sun or due to heat, cold, rain, snow, ice, or whatever. It has to be the colors shown. In case your monitor doesn't display the colors right, the background color for the mid section is yellow.

Capacity Label

For other types of boats use the following labels. The dimensions of the labels are the same.

2 HP label Manual Label
Sterndrive Label


Delete the words U S COAST GUARD at the top of the label. You may also have to delete the certification statement at the bottom of the label.

To make your own labels see How to Make a Label

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Ventilation: Blower Warning Label 33 CFR 183.610   See also ventilation

If you are required to have powered ventilation you must have a label, called a Blower Warning Label. It can be anywhere on the control station but must be near the ignition switch. In other words, next to the key, or starter button. It must say words to the effect:

Blower Label

Certification Label: 33 CFR 181.5 - 181.19

Any boat that has to meet some Federal Requirement but not Capacity, Flotation, or Horsepower must have at least a certification label. For instance, if the boat must meet the Electrical, Fuel Systems, Ventilation, or Navigation Lights regulations then there must be a certification label.  That is simply a label mounted in plain view with the following words. This label may be combined with the capacity label. It must contain the name and place of manufacture.

certification label

When do I not need a certification Label?

If the only Federal requirement you must meet is to have a Hull Identification number (such as in small sailboats, inflatables, etc) then you cannot have the certification statement, because there is nothing to certify. However, if you install navigation lights then you must have the certification statement.

ABYC Labels

The American Boat And Yacht Council (ABYC)has developed a a label that combines all the various warnings into one label.  If your boat needs many warning labels this may be the way to go. Go to the ABYC Portal

ABYC Combined Warning Label


International Labels:  For boats being sold in the European Union.  These boats must comply with the Recreational Craft Directive.  For information see:

Guideline Number 7 ISO Builders Plate/US Boat capacity labels
USBoatcapacitylabels1.pdf (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader or equivalent)

Fuel Tank Labels: 33 CFR 183.514 Gasoline fuel tanks for boats must have a label certifying that they have been subjected to a Static Pressure Test. See Fuel Systems

The label looks like this: 

Fuel Tank Label

It doesn't have to look exactly like this but must contain the information seen on this label. That required information is: 

Manufacturers Name and address:

Month and Year of Manufacture

Capacity in US gallons

Material of Construction

Pressure the tank is designed to withstand without leaking

Model number is applicable

The statement:  This tank has been tested under 33 CFR 183.510(a)

If the tank is tested under §183.584 at less than 25g vertical accelerations the statement, Must be installed aft of the boat's half length."

EPA Label Requirement:  Gasoline fuel tanks must contain an EPA statement:


This label may be combined with the USCG label, or it may be separate.

See 33 CFR183.514 for the full requirements for the labels.

A guide to safety warning labels required on recreational boats.

The following table is very general and your boat may need other labels. Consult with the US Coast Guard.

Boat Type USCG Labels
Canoe/Kayak HIN
Rowboat HIN - Capacity Label - Certification Label (may be combined)
Rowboat with 2 HP HIN - Capacity Label - Certification Label (may be combined)
Outboard <20 Ft HIN - Capacity Label - Certification Label (may be combined)
Outboard 20 ft or > HIN - Certification Label
Inboard <20 Ft W/Gas Engine HIN - Capacity Label - Certification Label (may be combined)
Blower Warning Label
Inboard 20 Ft or > W/Gas Engine HIN - Certification Label - Blower Warning Label
Inboard W/Diesel HIN
Sailboat W/O Engine HIN
Sailboat W/Outboard HIN
Sailboat W/Gas IB HIN - Certification Label - Blower Warning Label
Sailboat W/Diesel HIN
Multi-hull OB any Size (includes Pontoon Boats) HIN
Multi-hull Gas IB any Size (includes Pontoon Boats) Certification Label - Blower Warning Label
Multi-hull Diesel any Size (includes Pontoon Boats) HIN
Any with permanently
Installed Gas Generator
Certification Label - Blower Warning Label
Any boat with builder installed Navigation Lights Certification Label

Other Labels:

ABYC, ISO, the Canadian Coast Guard, the RCD, and others may require other labels. For instance ABYC requires many other warning labels. On open motorboats there are labels showing the seating arrangements. On any boat with a gasoline engine there are carbon monoxide warning labels. For boats with exposed propellers there are prop strike warning labels. For electrical systems there is a multitude of warning labels for many different situations. There are far too many to list here.

Below are some examples: The bottom left image also contains a Canadian certification and capacities label issued by the Canadian Office Of Boating Safety. Look at some more lablels.

ABYC labels.
NMMA Boats Safety Labels

For Boats Going to the UK or EU:

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_MG_8856.jpg (261594 bytes)

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American Boat And Yacht Council  Boat Design Net  Wooden Boat Foundation

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