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Legal: How do I find federal regulations?

Finding Federal Regulations

Finding Federal Regulations

What are Federal regulations?

Federal regulations are rules with the force of law enacted either by Congress or by an agency acting under the authority of Congress or the President.  There are many thousands of federal government entities with the ability to create federal regulations.  These regulations are generally collected in a single publication called the Federal Register or the FR.  Currently, there are two methods for finding authentic and up-to-date regulations without having to resort to expensive and inaccessible databases.:

Searching via GPOAccess

The Government Printing Office (GPO) is the federal governments printing house.  Through the GPO's website, GPOAccess, we can search for and view the most recent version of the Federal Register here:

Federal Register at GPOAccess 

This site allows you to search the Federal Register for rules and regulations from the current version as far back at 1994.  This method for searching the Federal Register is especially helpful if you already have a citation, know a specific date, or already have some information about the regulation or kinds of regulations you'd like to see.  For instance, if you have specific information, such as, you know that a regulation is on a particular page number or if you know the section and paragraph where the regulation may be found, you might find this the easiest way to begin your search.  GPOAccess even allows for search by date when the rule was issued. 

Searching via Regulations.gov

As part of a new initiative, the Whitehouse created a website that acts as a clearinghouse for links to recent federal regulations, rules, and laws, drawn from a variety of sources. Here is the link:

 Federal Regulations at www.regulations.gov    

You'll find that regulations.gov is a very useful tool for finding recent regulations when you don't have too much beforehand information regarding the rules.  You might consider regulations.gov if you heard a topic mentioned on the radio while driving, but were only able to catch a few vague details about the subject.  Another advantage of Federal Regulations.gov is the sidebar.  If your search returns lots of potential matches, Regulations.gov organizes your results on the left hand side of the screen by agency, document type, and other criteria.