Finding Federal Regulations When You Don’t Have a Citation

Regulations created by federal agencies are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). The CFR is available in print at many local libraries or electronically on the internet. Both the electronic and print versions of the CFR are not always up-to-date, so it is necessary to update the regulations you find in either version using the List of C.F.R. Sections Affected and the Federal Register.

Searching CFR in Print

The CFR has an index volume that allows you to search by subject. To search the index volume, look up key words related to your problem then look up the CFR sections to which you are referred.

Once you have found a federal regulation that applies to your problem, you will need to update it. To update a CFR section in print, begin by finding the latest issue of the List of Sections Affected ("LSA"). The LSA will probably be on a shelf nearby. The best way to explain updating CFR regulations is to use an example.

Suppose you wanted to update 38 C.F.R. § 14.634. You will have to pull the latest available issue of the LSA from the shelf. Next, look for the beginning of the list of sections in title 38. Then you would scan the list to see if section 14.634 was listed. If the number you are looking for is not listed, it means that the CFR’s version is still correct and there is no amendment to that particular rule.

CFR image
 

In the image above, you can see that the LSA does list an amendment to 38 C.F.R. § 14.634. The number 8547 on the right side of the column tells you what page of the current year's Federal Register you would the updated regulation is on. You would then look for the issue of the Federal Register that includes that page number. In most libraries, the Federal Register will be shelved near the CFR.

Checking the LSA is not the last step in updating a federal regulation. Notice in the illustration above that the latest available LSA at the time this page was created covered changes made to federal regulations from July 1, 2002 through March 31, 2003. You would still need to check for changes that occurred after March 31, 2003. To do this, you would next look at the last issue of the Federal Register for each month that has passed since March 31, 2003. For example, if you were conducting your research in the middle of May, 2003, and using the LSA shown above, you would next need to find the April 30, 2003 issue of the Federal Register and the last issue published in May 2003. You would then check the "List of CFR Parts Affected during April" in the April 30 Federal Register and the "List of CFR Parts Affected during May" from the last May issue to see if any additional changes had been made to 38 CFR part 14 since March 31, 2003.

Searching CFR on the Web

If you know which agency regulates the area of law you are researching, one of the easiest ways to find federal regulations is to look at the website of that agency. You can find a list of federal agencies with links to their websites at USA.gov. Many federal agencies publish their regulations on their websites behind a link called “Laws and Regulations,” or something similar. If you don’t know which federal agency regulates your area of law, you could try searching the U.S. Government Mannual at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual/index.html. The Manual gives descriptions of federal agencies.
 
If you can’t figure out which agency regulates the area of law you are researching and that type of law is not discussed on the Peoples Law Library, you will probably have to search the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”). You can search the CFR on the web for free at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/ecfr/index.html. To search the full text of the entire CFR, click the link labeled “Simple Search,” then enter your key words in the "Search for" box and click the “Submit search” button. For example, if you wanted to find regulations about veterans’ benefits, you might type the words veterans benefits in the search box and click submit.
 
To browse or search the CFR one title at a time, click the “Simple Search” link as mentioned above, type your search terms in the "Search for" box, and type the title number in the "Enter a Title Number" box.

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