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Substantial Compliance


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May 15, 2023 - Substantial compliance in boating terms relates to the application of state or federal boating regulations, policies, and statutes. Although strict compliance is usually the rule, there may be circumstances where exceptions are made on behalf of the residing agency or official. These come into play where there is an unintended or unavoidable error or omission in the outcome. However, this only applies if such factor does not detract from the essential intent of a particular regulation.

State Boating Context

State boat registration or titling agencies are for the most part, very strict regarding adherence to the stated rules. Although they are more relaxed about the form and function of certain documents such as bills of sale and releases of interest. The same applies to notarization requirements. When it comes to enforcement agencies, such exceptions are usually made on behalf of the attending officer.

Federal Boating Context

The National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) is uncompromising when it comes their respective Code of Federal regulations. However, they have adopted a known policy of substantial compliance with regard to applications and recordable instruments. A request for such exceptions must be predicated by a formal request as accompanied by a notarized statement of facts and convincing evidence of attempted compliance. As for federal enforcement officers, they have a reasonable degree of latitude when it comes to substantial compliance.

Contractual Context

Substantial compliance with regard to private contractual arrangements is usually a matter of judgment within state court systems.


Boaters should be aware that exceptions to regulatory issues can be a matter of unpredictability. These often come down to human judgment calls based on the circumstances at hand. Any questions or concerns about the applicability of substantial compliance should addressed with the respective agency or a qualified attorney at law.

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May 15, 2023 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.



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