Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the official publication of the regulations issued by federal government agencies. CFR is published, in print and online, jointly by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), and the Government Printing Office (GPO). All federal agencies must publish their regulations, also known as rules, in CFR. Although a lower form of law than statutory law, a properly promulgated regulation has the legal authority of a statute.

The CFR was established by the Federal Register Act of 1935 (FRA), which required a compilation of all federal regulations existing at the time. The FRA was amended in 1937 to require a codification, a systematic organization by content of all federal regulations ( 44 U.S.C. §1510 ).

Subsequently, the first codification was published in 1938. New regulations, as well as other documents, are published in the Federal Register before they appear in CFR. Today all of the titles of the CFR are updated, in a staggered manner, annually. Unofficial updates appear online more frequently.

The CFR is a genuine code. The codifiers of the CFR chose to parallel the organization of the United States Code where possible. Consequently, most of the CFR's fifty titles, which are organized alphabetically and by subject matter, are the same as those found in the United States Code. For example, the subject of Title 7 in both the CFR and the United States Code is agriculture. Most CFR titles are subdivided into subtitles, chapters, parts, and sections. CFR titles are updated yearly, on a staggered cycle, to include additions, amendments, and repeals. By 2010 the CFR had grown to over 160,000 pages, printed in 226 volumes.

SEE ALSO Administrative Procedure Act ; Federal Register ; Regulation .


Hall, Daniel E. Administrative Law: Bureaucracy in a Democracy. 6th ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2014.

National Archives. Federal Register Tutorial. .

Office of the Federal Register. “Federal Register Facts.” Revised July 15, 2012. .

U.S. Government Printing Office. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. .

Daniel E. Hall
College of Professional Studies and Applied Sciences Miami University