Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Find Legislation: United States

What is legislation?

  • Legislation is law enacted by government. It takes the form of a written document.
  • In many countries, including Canada and the United States, there are two types of laws: primary legislation and secondary legislation.

What is primary legislation?

Primary legislation

  • is created by legislative bodies (such as Parliament or Congress)
  • is also called a statue or act
  • sets out the broad principles and framework of the law
  • is known as a bill prior to approval by a country’s legislative body.

What is secondary legislation?

Secondary legislation

  • Is created by bodies, other than the legislative body, that have been delegated that authority by the primary legislation. Those bodies are often, but not always, government agencies or departments.
  • is also known as delegated legislation, subordinate legislation, or regulation.
  • sets out specific rules under the authority of the primary legislation that authorizes it.

How do I find United States federal legislation?

  • The United States Code contains the federal primary legislation of the United States.  
  • Current and previous editions of the United States Code are available online on the website of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel. You may search by keyword or browse. 
  • The United States Statues at Large publish the text of each law enacted by Congress, arranged chronologically. 
  • United States federal regulations are published in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Browse regulations by title or search by keyword. 
  • The text of the US Code and the Code of Federal Regulations are also available on the FindLaw website. 
  • The text of all proposed legislation, along with their status, is available online at Congress.gov. Search by keyword or bill number. 

How do I find United States state legislation?

  • Hosted, searchable versions of state legislation and links to state resources are available on the FindLaw website. Resources are organized by state.
  • You can also find each state’s official website for legislation by searching Google for <state name> legislation, e.g. New York legislation.

How do I find United States municipal legislation?

  • Legislation enacted by a municipality is called a by-law.
  • You can find each municipality’s official by-laws website by searching Google for <municipality name> by-laws, e.g. Guelph by-laws.

Resources to Help with Research

Guide: Google Like a ScholarGuide: Find Government PublicationsGuide: Find Grey Literature

Suggest an edit to this guide

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.