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The NMMA Boat and Yacht Certification Program
By Thomas Marhevko
Vice President
NMMA Engineering Standards Department
History, Effectiveness, Importance
On just about every boat you jump into today, you see a yellow and
black label near the helm with an easy-to-read (and understand)
message: Maximum Capacities: xx persons and yy pounds. Just like
the capacity plate in elevators, this label tells you the number of
people you can safely have in the boat and the total pounds the
boat can safely carry. OK, you get that. But what else does the label
say? Closer inspection of this label reveals that the boat has been
certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
So what does this mean? I will answer that for you. But first, the
The Early Years
Recreational boat certification started in the early 60’s with the Out-
board Boating Club (the forerunner of the NMMA) and then later
with the Boating Industry Association (BIA). I still see BIA certifica-
tion labels on older boats. The early program would pick and
choose various ABYC standards and various parts of standards. In the early 70’s the program incorporated
regulations stringed to the Federal Boating Safety Act of 1971. The NMMA continued the program of certific
tion of recreational boats in the mid 80’s. The early NMMA certification programs were also separated into
grams for boat (under 26’) and yachts. The 80’s also brought a start to the component Type Accepted progr
(more on that later). That brings us to ….
Today the NMMA Boat and Yacht Certification program has
225 boat builders participating and this amounts to about
of the boats annually built in the U.S. That’s an impressive
number. The program also has a global reach with NMMA c
fied boat builders in Canada, Europe, Australia and the Far
Following the need, NMMA has inspectors in each of these
The late 90’s brought the certification program into modern
times. The boating industry established closer ties with bot
ABYC and the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety. Th
certification program included additional ABYC standards a
began educational programs for both builders and inspectors.
The real impetus for certification program growth happened in 2004 when the NMMA Board of Directors de
clared that a condition of NMMA membership was product certification of recreational boats. Up until then,
NMMA certification was a voluntary program, with about 100 members participating. The Board also decla
that a required Customer Satisfaction program would be part of certification. The first mandatory year for c
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