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Compulsory use of life vests in Norway

Effective May 1st 2015, Norwegian authorities decided that every person on board leisure crafts with length below eight metres must wear appropriate floatation device when “outdoors”. This applies in all Norwegian waters – including lakes and rivers – but only when the vessel is underway.

Unfortunately, foreign leisure craft also have to comply with this, when in Norwegian waters. However, we assume that most foreign leisure craft coming to Norway will be more than 8 metres.

The injunction applies for all leisure craft, including powerboats, sailboats, jet-skis, kayaks etc. Also water sports equipment such as water-skis, tubes and wakeboards are included.

The injunction applies only “outdoors”. To be considered “indoors” however, you have to be surrounded by a solid closed cabin. Textile hood is not considered “indoors”.

When the leisure craft is lying still in the water, it is not underway, so if you stop for fishing or sunbathing etc, it is not compulsory to wear the floatation device.

The floatation device must be marked as appropriate for this use, for instance CE-marking.

It is the responsibility of the owner and skipper that the leisure craft is supplied with sufficient floatation device for everyone on board, but is every adults own responsibility to use it. The skipper must ensure that persons below 15 years comply with the injunction.

There are a couple of exceptions to the new law: organised sports activities and small hire boats on very small ponds (pedal boats etc.)

Norwegian police will issue fines if they catch you breaking the injunction.

Both the Norwegian Sailing Federation (NSF) and the KNBF are against the new injunction as it is now.

These days, the Norwegian Authorities are evaluating the new law, and we hope to achieve some adjustments, so that for instance sunbathing when underway in slow going vessels may be allowed without life vests.

We will try to keep you updated on every significant change.

Norway, March 1st 2016

Peter L. Larsen
Committee chairman – boating politics