To be eligible to participate in the state Recreational Boating Safety grant program, a state recreational boating safety program must have:
- A vessel numbering system.
- A cooperative boating safety assistance program with the Coast Guard.
Sufficient patrol and other activity to ensure adequate enforcement of applicable state boating safety laws and regulations.
- A state boating safety education program that includes the dissemination of information concerning the hazards of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- A marine casualty reporting system.
All states and U.S. territories participate in the RBS grant program. Alaska received conditional approval of its program in 1999 pending enactment of additional legislation.
Allocation Formula and Matching Funds Requirement
Of the funds appropriated for the state grant program, the Coast Guard is authorized to retain not more than two percent for the costs of administering the state program, and up to five percent for grants to national nonprofit public service organizations to conduct national boating safety activities. The balance is allocated to the states as follows:
- One-third allocated equally among participating states.
- One-third allocated in the same ratio as the number of vessels numbered in the state bears to the number of vessels numbered in all participating states.
- One-third allocated in the same ratio as the amount of the state's prior-year expenditures for boating safety bears to the total prior-year expenditures for boating safety of all participating states.
A state cannot receive more than one-half of the total cost of its RBS Program, and must provide matching funds from general state revenues, undocumented vessel numbering and license fees, or state marine fuels taxes.
Federal funds provided for a state's boating safety program may be used for any of the following:
- Providing facilities, equipment, and supplies for boating safety education and law enforcement, including purchase, operation, maintenance, and repair.
- Training personnel in skills related to boating safety and to the enforcement of boating safety laws and regulations.
- Providing public boating safety education, including educational programs and lectures, to the boating community and the public school system.
- Acquiring, constructing, or repairing public access sites used primarily by recreational boaters.
- Conducting boating safety inspections and marine casualty investigations.
- Establishing and maintaining emergency or search and rescue facilities, and providing emergency or search and rescue assistance.
- Establishing and maintaining waterway markers and other appropriate aids to navigation.
- Providing state recreational vessel numbering and titling programs.