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Maritime Law: Primary Resources

Basic Resources

U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations

U.S. Coast Guard

Navigation and Navigable Waters


Interstate Transportation

Agency Documents

Federal Maritime Commission
  • Federal Maritime Commission
  • Annual Reports
    • The FMC web site has reports from 1962 to the present, plus historical reports from FMC predecessors (1917-1961)
    • U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals from HeinOnline (1962-present)
  • Decisions
    • To search decisions, orders, and appeals from 1980-present, use the Electronic Reading Room Search from the FMC. 
    • The previous official reporter, Federal Maritime Commission Reports (1919-1987), can be found on the FMC website; in U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals from HeinOnline; and in print KF 2606 .A553.
Maritime Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • Decisions of the Maritime Subsidy Board are available through the U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals from HeinOnline and in print KF 2606 .A557(1965-1985).
  • Annual Reports
    • Office MARAD website (2008-present)
    • HeinOnline (1950-present) (U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals)

Note on annual reports: These are often annual reports prepared to present to Congress and are therefore frequently published in House or Senate documents. To search these, try ProQuest Congressional (for students and faculty) or (a free website maintained by the Library of Congress).

Note on Westlaw and Lexis:  Both of these database services have various federal agency materials and exact content and coverage will depend on the documents.

Judicial Decisions

  • Database for Judicial Decisions on International Conventions - Produced by the Comité Maritime International, it includes judgments on several international agreements. 
  • Lloyd's Law Reports (1968-present) - a monthly English case reporter; it is focused on English decisions but also includes Scotland, other Commonwealth areas, and the U.S.
    • In print KD 1815 .A2 L5 (1968-present)
  • American Maritime Cases - A monthly case reporter focusing on U.S. law with select Canadian and other international cases. 
    • In print KF 2606 .A512 (1923-2011)
    • Westlaw (1923-present) 
  • Westlaw - This database gives you a couple of ways to narrow your search to only admiralty and maritime cases. 
    • Type in and select "Federal Maritime Dockets" in the main search box. This will allow you to search court documents in addition to judicial decisions; full coverage begins in 2000.
    • Select Practice Tools, Admiralty and Maritime, then cases. This covers all opinions that the publisher classifies as maritime. 


The most efficient way to find treaties to which the U.S. is a party is to use the U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library from HeinOnline This direct link will bring you to a full treaty index where you can search by keyword, country, treaty name, etc. For a full resource guide on finding and researching treaties and related materials, see the Public International Law research guide. The information applies to treaties covering all areas of law.

Maritime Law in Other Countries

To find the primary sources of maritime in other countries will depend on the particular country you are looking for. There may be books or journal articles that can also give you background information on a particular state. For example, you can search the library catalog for maritime and the state name. This could give you books like Admiralty Jurisdiction: Law and Practice in Australia and New Zealand. Another example is a resource on Westlaw titled International Trade and Maritime Law in China

Please see a reference librarian if you need further assistance and know that there are many helpful resources online.


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