Want easy-to-install and wallet-friendly signs to comply with US Coast Guard requirements? All three signs for $10 and less than 5 minutes to put them up.

USCG Required Waste Signs

If your boat is over 26 feet, US Coast Guard regulations state that you must have two signs:

  • One relating to the discharge of oil; and
  • One relating to the discharge of trash.

United States ocean-going vessels of 40 feet or longer that are engaged in commerce or equipped with a galley and berthing must have a third sign, too: a written waste management plan.

When we bought Barefoot Gal, she didn’t have any of the required signs (she’s 34 feet so only needs the first two). So we needed to get them before we launched the boat.

We wanted something that would be easy to mount and not cost a fortune. After looking at all the “usual sources” for cost-effective solutions (and not finding anything), I turned to West Marine . . . which had exactly what I wanted at the best price by far!

You get all three signs for $10. They are a high quality adhesive-backed sign that you can put up in less than a minute. The trash placard must be in a “prominent location” so we put it just below the electrical panel and VHF, which is also beside the door. You can see it in the photo at top. (The current wording is a little different as to comply with updated requirements.)

The oil sign is required to be in the machinery area or at the bilge pump control area and we placed it inside the engine cover.

Want easy-to-install and wallet-friendly signs to comply with US Coast Guard requirements? All three signs for $10 and less than 5 minutes to put them up.

We didn’t need the waste management plan, but it is also included in the package of three and has blank spots to write in the vessel-specific information required.

Several people have seen our signs (either in person or in photos I’ve posted) and wanted to know where to get them. Here’s the link (the wording has changed a little since we got ours, the West Marine signs now sold have the current wording):

NOTE: Purchases made through this link help support The Boat Galley, at no additional cost to you.


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  • Joe Sprouse
    Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply

    West Marine in Virginia West Marine Virginia Beach, we give away individual placards, free.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply

      How great!

    • Monika
      Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply

      Is it the newest MARPOL wording? New law became effective last October and as a USPS Vessel safety examiner I have yet to find a boat with the new decal. I do have a supply I have out for free when performing a VSE.

  • Kate Barker
    Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply


  • Mindee Cobb
    Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply

    We picked up all three for free at the Fort Myers West Marine on College Parkway on April 30, 2015

  • Diana K Weigel
    Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply


  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply

    It seems the MARPOL wording for the trash sign changed last October, and the Coast Guard site and brochures still have the old wording . . . as do the West Marine signs. Monika Bradley was kind enough to snap a photo of the new signs available from the US Power Squadron. (I hate it when things change but the “authorities” don’t reflect it on their web sites!)

  • Charles
    Posted at 07 May 2015 Reply

    I got mine from my local USCG office for the price of asking. I just asked for MARPOL stickers and they were happy to supply them. At the time, I needed two oil and three trash stickers. You need one in every compartment containing the stuff which the sticker is about, so every compartment with oil or dunnage or whatever. Every compartment with a trashcan, etc.

    • Susan Kuemmel
      Posted at 08 May 2015 Reply

      Call your local US Power Squadron or Coast Guard station to schedule a vessel safety inspection. Your can easily find the phone #’s online. These inspections are done at no cost and can provide you with an assessment of the safety preparedness of your vessel. The inspectors can/will provide you with needed stickers and they can tell you which stickers you need and where you will need to post them. They will also review state and federal safety regulations with you. There is no “reporting” involved in the inspections. You will walk away knowing your vessel is prepared for safe operation and, if not, what you need to do to bring it up to speed.

  • Alex
    Posted at 08 May 2015 Reply

    Had no idea. Wow. The more I learn, the more worried I get about all the things I need to learn. 🙁

  • David Lenehan
    Posted at 16 May 2015 Reply

    It’s disappointing in many ways to see another country becoming as much of a nanny state as mine (Australia). While these regulations aren’t a bad thing in terms of reminders on what to do, I find it hard to watch government having to monitor what was once common sense. It’s getting so bad “Down Under” that governments now penalise parents who don’t immunise their children against common diseases. Sad but true.

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