CG Adopts New Lifejacket Labeling Standards

The U.S. and Canada have adopted new labeling requirements and standards intended to provide lifejacket buyers with detailed information on the limits and applicability of the model, fit, and style of PFD, as well as maintenance. Canada and the U.S. have worked together to harmonize their lifejacket standards in order to improve safety choices and encourage innovation; allow new approved devices to be used across borders; and expand markets and streamline regulations.

Among the new label features are:


The size of the device is shown on the label, (usually near the back of the neck) stated as a measure of mass (weight). A chest measurement or height may also be indicated.

The label is a general guideline only as body type and size vary greatly.

Most devices are adjustable for a good fit.

Performance Level Icons

Devices are designed, constructed, and tested under controlled conditions and assigned a Performance Level that indicates the conditions of use for which it is intended.

Performance is a combination of factors, including buoyancy, freeboard, turning, stability, and visibility.

The icons on new labels are international symbols that are adopted from the International Standards Organization (ISO) subcommittee for lifejacket standards.


The warnings panel on the label includes important information for the user about the device and its intended use.

Icons are used to inform the user that a device may not be appropriate for certain activities, such as water-skiing, towed sports, or personal watercraft. (Some jurisdictions may have regulations about what device design is required.)



The maintenance panel on the label includes information on the care and use of the device. Icons are used to inform the user about cleaning and drying the device.

Reminders about fastening the device for good fit and the importance of inspecting for damage before use and storage are included here, with reference as well to reading manufacturers information.



The approval panel indicates that the device has been approved by the United States Coast Guard and Transport Canada.
Other important information includes:

– approval codes

– certification by testing laboratories

– manufacturer’s name, contact info, device lot, and model numbers.