Except when using the "exact:" operator discussed below, any part of a search query may be keyed in either upper or lower case.

Simple Searches

Simply enter terms for searching:


child nutrition

insurance motor vehicle

patriot act

All of these searches will search over the entire text of the Code for the best matching sections. All terms in your query must be found somewhere in the document.

In addition, simple searches will search for small suffix variations and other irregular variant forms of your terms. For example, "laws" will automatically search for all documents with "law" and "mice" will automatically search for "mouse".

Searching for a Phrase

Put the phrase in double quotes, as in:

"federal rules"

Terms in double quotes will not include suffix variations. For example, the above query will not return documents which only contain "federal rule".

Boolean and Proximity Connectors

Operators can be specified for more advanced searching, as below. Note that operators can be entered either in lower case or upper case.

Searching for:

Finds documents containing:

wheat adj corn

wheat followed immediately by corn

wheat and corn

both wheat and corn

wheat or corn

either wheat or corn

wheat not corn

wheat but not corn

wheat before/5 corn

wheat followed within 5 words by corn

wheat near/5 corn

wheat within 5 words of corn

Order of Operations/Using Parentheses

By default, the search engine gives the "and" operator precedence over "or", so, for example,

"title 49" and "payload" or "cargo"

yields documents that either (1) contain both the phrase "title 49" and the word "payload" or (2) contain the word "cargo", regardless of the presence of "title 49". This may not be the intended result. To override the default order of operations, advanced boolean expressions can be included in parentheses. For example:

(vessel or ship) and (master or operator)

Wildcards and Masks

1. A question mark represents individual characters. For example, searching


will retrieve all occurrences of int, followed by two characters, followed by city (e.g., intercity and intracity).

2. An asterisk represents an unlimited number of characters. For example, searching


will retrieve all occurrences of int, followed by any number of characters, followed by city.

Selecting Portions of the Code for Search

Most of the Code is divided into titles, subtitles, appendices, chapters, subchapters, parts, subparts, and sections. You can use fielded search to quickly limit your search to any of these portions of the Code.

To search within title 11:


Note that this does not include the appendix of title 11.

To search within the title 11 appendix:


To search for any section 502 found within the Code:


To search for section 502 within title 23:

title:23 and section:502

To search within Chapter 5 of title 23:

title:23 and chapter:5

Click here for a complete list of Code fields which can be used to select portions for search.

Navigating to a Particular Subdivision Within a Section

To navigate directly to a particular subdivision of a section, such as a subsection or paragraph, simply add the subdivision(s) in parentheses after the section number when using the "Jump To:" Title and Section fields. For example, entering:


in the Title field and


in the Section field

will retrieve section 1396 of title 42, automatically scrolled so that subsection (c) appears.

Note that this type of search is case sensitive. Entering Title "42" and Section "1396(b)(11)(B)" will navigate directly to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (11) of subsection (b), but "1396(B)(11)(B)" or "1396(b)(11)(b)" will not. If a non-existent subdivision is entered into the section field, the section document will still be retrieved but will be scrolled to the top of the document.

Limiting Search to a Particular Field

The documents in the Code database are divided into fields. A search query can be constructed so that documents are found only if certain words appear in certain fields.

To apply a field limiter to a single word, insert a colon and the field name before the word. For example, to retrieve documents containing "wheat" in the STATUTE field, search:




More complex queries can be entered either with phrases (all words must occur in sequence):

statute:"government law enforcement training"

Or with parentheses (all words must occur, in any order):

amendment:(human research)

Or other complex boolean searches:

source:("pub l 108" adj (419 or 420))

Click here for a complete list of fields available for search.

Case Sensitive Searches (exact)

To perform a case sensitive search, prefix the word or words with "exact:":


exact:"George Washington"

exact:(SEC or FBI)

All of these searches are case sensitive and will only match terms that use the same sequence of upper and lower case letters as specified in the query.

Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations

To find executive order numbers, use the following syntax:

exec:(ex before/2 ord before/2 13286)

And replace the order number "13286" with whatever executive order you are searching for.

Similarly, the following is an example of searching for presidential proclamations:

exec:(proc* before/2 3044)

Document Browser Help

Here is some help for browsing the text of documents in the Code.

Use the result navigator to move forwards and backwards through the search results list.

Use the Code navigator to move to the next or previous section within the Code itself or to browse the text of any larger units which contain the current document. In the above example, clicking on "Next >>" opens the document for 38 U.S.C. 7902.

Most of the query terms which matched against the document will be highlighted with yellow highligher. The "current" highlight will highlighted in green and the above navigator can be used to move the current highlight from keyword to keyword.

Keyboard Navigation

You can use your keyboard to perform the browsing functions described above, with the following shortcuts:

kNext search hit
<shift>-KPrevious search hit
rNext search result
<shift>-RPrevious search result
sNext Code section
<shift>-SPrevious Code section

Viewing Statutes at Large Pages and Revised Statutes

The viewer application used on this website is located at

To view specific pages in the Statutes at Large:

Type the volume number in the  “Vol.”  text box and the page number in the  “Page”  text box.

To view specific sections in the Revised Statutes:

Type “rs” (case-sensitive) in the  “Vol.”  text box and s####” (case-sensitive) in the  “Page”  text box, where “####” is the section number in the Revised Statutes.


Click on "Print" to print the document you are browsing, without the highlighted keywords.