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Equipment Approval Information


Type Approval is the primary process for equipment and materials to receive Coast Guard approval.  For equipment or materials to receive Type Approval, they must be demonstrated to comply with the relevant requirements in the regulations, successfully complete the specified tests, and be enrolled in a quality control or follow up program as required.  The quality control or follow up program monitors product uniformity to ensure that it does not deviate from the approved design.  Depending on the type of equipment, the follow up program is generally arranged with the same laboratory that conducted the initial testing or in some cases is carried out by Coast Guard marine inspectors.  Since the Coast Guard does not have its own certification laboratory, it relies on Accepted Independent Testing Laboratories to test materials for compliance with the applicable criteria.  Such acceptance is given for each approval category and test apparatus individually.  Acceptance of a testing laboratory is not retroactive, i.e. testing previously conducted by the laboratory is not automatically accepted.

There is presently no charge by the U. S. Coast Guard for issuing a certificate of approval.  However, all costs at the testing laboratory for testing and for any factory follow-up inspections are the responsibility of the applicant.  Where the Coast Guard supervises tests and inspections outside the United States, the applicant must agree to reimburse the Coast Guard for the travel and subsistence expenses of the inspector.  See NVIC 02-06 for additional guidance covering follow-up programs for fire safety type approval products.

After the successful completion of the required testing, and after all necessary drawings, specifications, and proof of a follow-up program have been received, reviewed and approved by the Coast Guard, a Certificate of Approval will be issued to the applicant manufacturer.  The certificate is valid for five years, and the approval will be listed on the internet at

Certificates of Approval may be renewed upon request provided that the equipment or material and the relevant requirements have not changed, and the item has been under a continuous follow-up program where required.  If the material is covered under the Accepted Independent Testing Laboratory's follow-up inspection program and the test standard has not been changed, a new certificate with another five year expiration date may be issued.  In all other cases the material must be retested to the standard in effect at the time of the request for renewal before a new certificate can be issued.

Electronic submissions for Coast Guard approval should be sent to

Paper submissions should be mailed to the following address:

Commandant (CG-ENG-4)
U.S. Coast Guard Stop 7509
2703 Martin Luther King Ave Jr SE
Washington, DC 20593-7509

Note: Due to IT security policies, submissions on flash drives cannot be accepted. Paper copies, CDs, or email submissions are preferred.

For information on specific Lifesaving and Fire Safety equipment Type Approval requirements, see the equipment approval guidance links located on the CG-ENG-4 home page.


“Case-by-Case Approval” is an approval procedure that was created to facilitate industry and ensure vessel safety.  This process requires the Coast Guard to consider the circumstances surrounding the request on an individual basis for a specialized product that will be installed on a specific ship and will not be mass produced.  Equipment or products approved under this unique procedure are not issued a Coast Guard Certificate of Approval, as is issued after the completion of Coast Guard Type Approval.  In addition, a follow-up program is not required to monitor product uniformity because there is no mass production of the product or equipment approved under this process.

Case-by-Case Approval may be used for items that are specially made for a certain vessel project and the manufacturer believes that the unique nature of the product may limit its use on other vessels.  It can also be used by manufacturers of equipment that require a Coast Guard Certificate of Approval but have not yet obtained the approval certificate.  Products and equipment submitted for Case-by-Case Approval are still required to meet the applicable safety regulations and standards.

It should be noted that repeated requests for Case-by-Case Approval of the same product or equipment will not be approved because they are contrary to the intent of this process.  If a case-by-case approval request is denied for this reason, it will be recommended to the manufacturer to obtain a Coast Guard Certificate of Approval via the Type Approval Process.

The following are some of the factors that are considered by the Coast Guard when the request is based on existing test reports:

    * Was testing conducted at a USCG Accepted Independent Laboratory?
    * Was the laboratory accepted by USCG at time of testing?
    * Was the most current test method used?
    * How old is the test report?
    * Was the laboratory involved in selecting the specimen?
    * How was it verified that the test specimen was representative of the actual manufactured product?
    * Are there similar products available that already have a Coast Guard Certificate of Approval?

The manufacturer should provide the following when submitting a Case-by-Case Approval request:

    * Proof that the Testing was conducted at a Coast Guard Accepted Independent Laboratory.
    * The location and approximate date of the testing.
    * Information confirming that the Laboratory was involved with selecting the specimen to be tested. 

If the laboratory will not be involved with specimen selection, then the alternative should be discussed with our staff.

If approval of a range of products is sought based on limited testing, prior agreement should be first  obtained.  Contact CG-ENG-4 if you have any additional questions about the Case by Case Approval process.

Please send the request for a Case-by-Case Approval to the following address:

Commandant (CG-ENG-4)
U.S. Coast Guard Stop 7509
2703 Martin Luther King Ave Jr SE
Washington, DC 20593-7509

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Last Modified 1/12/2016