North Carolina law requires the following with respect to PFDs.
- All recreational vessels must have at least one Type I, II, or III PFD that is USCG–approved, wearable, and of the proper size for each person on board or being towed. Sizing for wearable PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
- In addition to the above requirement, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one USCG–approved Type IV throwable device on board and readily accessible.
- All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and must be readily accessible.
- Children under age 13 must wear a USCG–approved PFD when underway on a vessel (a vessel that is not anchored or tied to shore) unless they are below deck or inside an enclosed cabin.
- Each person riding on or being towed behind a PWC must wear a USCG–approved PFD. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for PWC operators or passengers.
- North Carolina law and regulations concerning PFDs apply to all vessels on state and federal waters. There are also specific local laws on the Catawba River chain that require PFDs to be on board all vessels.