Coast Guard to approve Level 100 Inherently Buoyant Lifejackets

The Coast Guard has issued a policy letter on obtaining Coast Guard approval on Level 100 lifejackets.  This policy builds upon previous efforts by the Coast Guard in cooperation with Transport Canada (TC) and members of the Personal Floatation Device (PFD) community to harmonize North American PFD standards.

Policy Letter 02-21, Adoption of ANSI/CAN/UL 12402-4 states the U.S. Coast Guard has determined that a Level 100 jacket which meets the requirements of UL 12402-4 using inherently buoyant material provides equivalent performance to a non-standard lifejacket meeting the requirements of 46 CFR 160.055.

Level 100 lifejackets are intended for commercial vessels.  However, they are acceptable for use on recreational vessels.  They do provide face-up flotation with a level of support sufficient for open water use and turn most users face-up, even when the user is unconscious.

Policy Letter 02-21 can be found here:

Just like with all lifejackets, authorities will check for the Coast Guard Approval number, that the device is in serviceable condition, and is being used in accordance with any requirements on the approval label.  The Coast Guard has evaluated only the performance of inherently buoyant Level 100 lifejackets.  Lifejackets that rely partly or entirely on inflation for buoyancy are not covered by this policy.

A wearable lifejacket for each person must be onboard the vessel.  These lifejackets must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, the proper size for the intended wearer, in good and serviceable condition, and properly stowed (readily accessible). 

When a vessel is underway with children under 13 years old, they must be wearing a lifejacket unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin. NOTE: On some state waters, this age requirement may vary.  The Coast Guard recommends that you always wear your lifejacket.

For more information on life jacket wear go to (

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