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Understanding the eCFR

Reader Aids

Reader Aids help people use and understand the eCFR. Reader Aids information is not published in the Code of Federal Regulations.

What is the eCFR?

The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) is a web version of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that we update daily to better reflect its current status. The eCFR is an editorial compilation of CFR material and amendments published in the daily Federal Register.

The Administrative Committee of the Federal Register (ACFR) has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and the Government Publishing Office (GPO) to develop and maintain the eCFR as an informational resource. The OFR/GPO partnership is committed to presenting accurate and reliable regulatory information on the eCFR with the objective of eventually establishing the eCFR as a publication officially recognized by the ACFR.

While we try to ensure that the material on the eCFR is accurate, those relying on it for legal research should verify their results against the most current official edition of the CFR, the daily Federal Register, and the List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA), available online at www.federalregister.gov and www.govinfo.gov. For complete information about, and access to, our official publications and services, go to the OFR’s website on www.archives.gov.

How often is the eCFR updated?

The OFR updates the material in the eCFR on a daily basis. While we do not make updates in real-time, generally the eCFR is current within two business days. You can find how current the material is at the top of all eCFR content pages.

We capture the amendments posted each day so that you can look at what was posted on an earlier day. The previous eCFR material is identified at the top of the page with a banner noting the date it appeared on as well as a link to the current version.

If you are searching for an incorporated amendment based on a recent effective date, remember that we do not integrate amendments on their effective date in real-time. Amendments are typically available about 2 business days after their effective date.

How does the eCFR get updated?

When a document that will amend the CFR is published in the Federal Register it will contain a date on which that change becomes effective (known as the effective date). Shortly after the effective date of an amendment the OFR integrates the changes into the eCFR.

While some amendments have immediate effective dates, most have dates that are effective in the future. When the effective date is in the future the OFR inserts links into the affected eCFR content so that users can review these upcoming amendments – these are displayed as ‘Cross References’ in the content.

eCFR cross reference

When the effective date arrives, the links are removed and the OFR integrates the changes into the eCFR. If the effective date of a regulation falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the amendments are integrated into the current Code within two Federal business days.

What special rules and procedures apply to display of future amendments and effective dates in the eCFR?

Publication of amendments and editorial information. The links in the cross references provide a preview of the document that introduced amendment. The information provided includes the effective date, the Federal Register publication date and page citation, and a link to the Federal Register document on FederalRegister.gov and in the original PDF format on govinfo.gov

eCFR cross reference metadata preview

Researching amendment files. Even when we add cross references to amendments effective in the future, that does not guarantee that they become effective as originally stated in the Federal Register document. Agencies may correct, delay, or withdraw amendments before the effective date(s). We advise users to check the eCFR the day after a regulation is scheduled to go into effect to be certain that the agency did not publish a correction, delay, or withdrawal document in the daily Federal Register.

Temporary rules and other un-codified rulemaking actions. The eCFR (like the annual editions of the CFR) does not include, or link to “temporary rules” or other regulations that will be in effect for less than one year. The eCFR also does not link to Federal Register documents that do not change the text or effective date of regulations. These include waivers, most interpretive rules, policy statements, and clarifications, as well as documents that affect compliance dates and applicability dates. However, these types of documents are available in the daily Federal Register and are referenced in the LSA (List of CFR Sections Affected).

Amendments affected by the Paperwork Reduction Act. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, certain material related to information collections is not effective until approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). For the convenience of users, an amendment published in the daily Federal Register with OMB approval pending is provisionally incorporated into the text of the current Code, along with an effective date note carried at the end of the section.

Partially-effective CFR amendments. A new regulation may contain units of text with different effective dates. If a unit of text has a later effective date than the text in surrounding parallel units, the eCFR includes the later-effective text in the current Code for the convenience of users. An effective date note carried at the end of the section alerts readers to the later effective date.

Changes to authority citations. If an authority citation is revised after publication of an amendment with a future effective date, the eCFR amendment file links to the changed authority citation until the amendment is incorporated into the current Code.

Inconsistent or erroneous amendments. An amendment that was incorrectly drafted or that is clearly inconsistent with the codification structure or effectiveness of the current Code or pending amendments is cited in an editorial note, either within the text of the section where the amendment would appear, or at the end of the section.

How are editorial errors accounted for in the eCFR?

The eCFR Corrections page, https://ecfr.federalregister.gov/corrections, lists editorial errors OFR made in processing eCFR amendments. The Corrections cites the CFR title and section affected, the corrective action taken, the “current as of” date the error occurred, and the “current as of” date the error was corrected.

Where possible we also add a notification to the affected content to indicate when a correction was needed. Due to the nature of corrections this is not always possible and users should consult the Corrections page for the definitive list of corrections.

eCFR corrective action notification example
example: eCFR corrective action notification

Errors made by issuing agencies are not reflected in the Corrections Compilation table. Agencies correct their errors by publishing documents to amend the CFR in the daily Federal Register. Those changes are integrated into eCFR in the same manner as other amendments. Agency correction documents are generally called “final rule corrections” or “technical amendments.”