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Finding Federal Regulations

Congress has created many agencies to administer federal areas of law, such as federal income tax, labor, food and drug safety, and many others.  These agencies create regulations to supplement the statutes passed by Congress. 

Information iconThe current text of the regulations, arranged by subject, is published in the Code of Federal Regulations

Proposed rules, final rules, and agency announcements are arranged by date in the Federal Register

When working with a federal agency, please remember to find both the relevant federal statutes, found in the United States Code, and the federal regulations, published in the Code of Federal Regulations, to have a complete understanding of the law.  You can access these publications online at (United States Code), (Code of Federal Regulations), and (Federal Register).  You can also access official versions of these publications through  

Access through agency websites 

You have choices for accessing the Federal regulations from a particular agency.   One of the best options is to access the agency’s website.  Each agency website will have different links, but most agencies will have a link that says either “Administrative Regulations” or “Rules.”  The agencies will also have other useful links, including forms and guidance documents. Find a list of federal agency websites here.

Access through U.S. government websitesIcon of a hand typing on a keyboard

Most regulatory research begins in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to see the current text, arranged by subject.  The U.S. government has two different versions of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) online.  Most researchers now use, the version the government continuously updates with new regulations.  The eCFR is usually current through regulations adopted two days earlier.   

The government does offer an official version of the CFR through  Each of the 50 titles in the CFR is updated once a year and published in print and pdf format.  This means the official CFR titles are likely several months to a year out of date.  To update the CFR, recommends checking the eCFR.  For other updating options, please seethe  “What is available?” subsection of the "About the Code of Regulations" page on

To track changes, read proposed rules, and see notices from the federal agencies arranged by date, check the Federal Register at  Although includes information since 1994, you can access earlier issues of the Federal Register, starting in 1936, through   

Searching for federal regulations 

The eCFR has several options for finding regulations.   

  • Have a Citation?   

    • Use the “Go to CFR Reference” search bar near the top of the page.  The search bar has a sample citation to guide your research. 

  • Know the Agency?  

    • Use the alphabetical Agencies list to find the correct agency and select the CFR title and chapter to access the regulations. 

  • Need to search by subject? Icon of an eye looking through a magnifying glass

    • Type your search into the “Search the eCFR” box at the top right of the page. 

    • Click “Search” in the top toolbar to see more search options.  The search automatically searches all 50 titles of the current version of the CFR.  Through the search screen, you can focus your search on an individual CFR title and even select to search an earlier version of the regulations.  

For all search methods, always scan the table of contents to explore the surrounding sections.  You often need many regulations from a relevant part, not one individual section. 

For more information on the eCFR and its search options, please read the eCFR Getting Started page.