TEA-21 logo TEA-21 - Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
Moving Americans into the 21st Century
Fact Sheet
TEA-21 Home | DOT Home | Fact Sheet Index


Program Purpose

The purpose of the Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Program is to assist the States and U.S. Territories with programs to protect recreational boaters.


The Recreational Boating Safety program is an appropriated budget authority program subject to annual appropriations. Funding for the program is derived from the Federal tax on fuel used in motorboats. Of the total amount received into the Highway Trust Fund in a fiscal year from the Federal tax on fuel used in motorboats, up to $70 million per year may be transferred to the Boat Safety Account in the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. Up to $1 million per year of these funds is transferred to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and any remaining revenues in a fiscal year from the Federal tax on fuel used in motorboats are transferred to the Sport Fish Restoration Account in the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. [26 U.S.C. 9503(c)(4)]

TEA21 amended 16 U.S.C. 777c(b) such that a base level of annual funding will be available to be transferred to the Secretary of Transportation for State recreational boating safety programs under the Recreational Boating Safety program, with additional amounts for the State grant program dependent upon annual discretionary appropriations. For FY1999-2003, funding for the State Recreational Boating Safety program may range from a low of $59 million to a high of $71.6 million. [7403]

TEA-21 makes an additional $5 million of the amount transferred to the Secretary available for payment of expenses of the Coast Guard for personnel and activities directly related to carrying out the national recreational boating safety program. Of the $5 million available for the Coast Guard RBS Program, at least $2 million must be used for enforcement of boat manufacturer compliance with vessel safety standards. [7405(c)]

***Note: The following describes the Recreational Boating Safety Program. None of these features are changed by TEA-21.***


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 grant program, and five percent for grants to national nonprofit public service organizations to conduct national boating safety activities.

The balance is allocated to participating States as follows:

States 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 fuel taxes. [46U.S.C. 13103]

State Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in the grant program, a State RBS Program must include:

Authorized Uses of Funds