Regulations for life jackets for merchant ships

Already since 1913, there is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS. Since then, the convention has been continually developed further. In the past, safety regulations have often varied from flag to flag, now the ship's safety is increasingly determined by global rules of the International Maritime Organisation.

Life-saving appliances are treated in section III of the international convention SOLAS 74/88.

The detailed specifications and test methods for life-saving appliances are defined in the LSA Code (Life-Saving Appliance Code). The purpose of this code is to establish international standards for life-saving appliances that are required pursuant to section III of the international convention SOLAS 74/88.

The exact wording of the LSA code, see the following link:


The most important details are as follows:


  • Each life jacket must be equipped with a whistle firmly attached to the life jacket by a cord.

  • A lifejacket shall be equipped with a releasable buoyant line or other means with which they can be attached to a life jacket worn by another person in the water.

  • A life jacket shall be provided with a suitable device, which allows a rescuer to lift the wearer from the water into a survival craft or rescue boat (lifting loop).

  • An inflatable life jacket must have at least two separate cells must comply with the requirements of paragraph 2.2.1, and                                                                                                            1. inflate automatically upon immersion, be equipped with a device which allows the                      inflation by a single hand movement and allow it to inflate each cell with the mouth,              2. comply with the requirements of paragraphs, and at the loss of                buoyancy of one of the two cells;                                                                                                          3. match the requirements of paragraph, after it has been inflated by the                          automatic mechanism.


Additional approval according to the Marine Equipment Directive of the EU


In addition to the SOLAS approval life-saving appliances on merchant vessels flying a European flag shall meet the requirements of the EU Marine Equipment Directive (MED) 2014/90 / EU (valid from 09.18.2016, formerly 96/98 / EU). Although this Directive mainly refers to the regulations of SOLAS / IMO, it foresees, depending on the product, additional compliance provisions. This approval provides as a visible mark of conformity, the "steering wheel" symbol of the European Ship Equipment Directive 96/98 / EC as shown below: