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Coast Guard to Approve Level 100 Inherently Buoyant Life Jackets
August 4, 2021

The Coast Guard has issued a policy letter on obtaining Coast Guard approval on Level 100 life jackets.  This policy builds upon previous efforts 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 life jacket meeting the requirements of 46 CFR 160.055.

Level 100 life jackets 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:

Will this cause a change to Enforcement, Vessel Exam or Safety Checks?

No –  Just like with all life jackets, 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.  Please note the Coast Guard has evaluated only the performance of inherently buoyant Level 100 life jackets.  Life jackets that reply partly or entirely on inflation for buoyancy are not covered by this policy.

U.S. Coast Guard Lifejacket requirements:

A wearable life jacket for each person must be onboard the vessel.  These life jackets 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 life jacket 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 life jacket.

Where can I find more information about life jackets?

Life Jacket Wear / Wearing your Life Jacket (

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