Boat Safety Requirements

There are different safety requirements depending on whether you use your boat on inland waterways, at sea, or for private or commercial purposes. 

If you’re using a boat at sea, international safety regulations must be followed.

You must:

  • Plan your voyage
  • Carry a radar reflector
  • Carry an illustrated table of the recognised life-saving signals
  • Help other craft, if needed
  • Use distress signals properly

You could be prosecuted if you’re involved in a boating accident and you haven’t followed the regulations, so make sure you’ve read through the safety regulations thoroughly.


Preventing collisions

The regulations on preventing collisions say that you must:

  • Fit navigation lights, shapes and sound-signalling devices on your boat
  • Stay a safe distance away from other boats and diving boats flying the blue-and-white ‘Alpha’ flag
  • Be alert to other boats around you at all times


Safety equipment

If your boat is more than 13.7 metres long, you must carry:

  • Lifejackets
  • Liferafts
  • Flares
  • Fire extinguishers

The specific details of what you need to carry depend on the size of your boat and how far you’re travelling away from the coast.


Register your boat with the coastguard’s safety scheme

Fill in an online form to register your boat’s details with the UK coastguard. This means your details will be available to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres throughout the UK, giving them the information they need to mount a search and rescue operation if you get into difficulty.

You can fill in the form here.

You can also find lots more in-depth boat safety regulations on the website.

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