The scope of diving regulations is generally defined in each specific set of regulations and the statutory law which empowers them, which can vary considerably across jurisdictions.
Diving regulations apply within the national territorial waters of the country.
Diving regulations apply within the national territorial waters of the country. In general they do not apply in international waters, but the commercial diving industry operates in international waters, in what is generally known as the offshore diving industry. In these waters the industry is largely self-regulated through voluntary membership of organisations such as the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA). Members of these organisations are required as a condition of membership to comply with their Codes of Practice.
In some jurisdictions specific exemptions and exceptions may be stipulated. For example:
- In the US, the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) is responsible for the promulgation of the AAUS Standards for Scientific Diving Certification and Operation of Scientific Diving Programs. These are the consensual guidelines for scientific diving programs in the US, and are recognized by Occupational Safety and Health Administration as the "Standard" for scientific diving.
- In the US and South Africa, the recreational diver training and certification industry (professional recreational diving instructors) and the recreational diving tour guide and dive leader (professional divemasters) part of the recreational diving industry are excluded from the diving regulations as being part of a self-regulated industry. The organisations involved include the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) and the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques Technical committee.
- The Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques Scientific committee was responsible for the development of the "Code of Practice for Scientific Diving: Principles for the Safe Practice of Scientific Diving in Different Environments" for UNESCO
- Queensland: – Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (the SRWA Act) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation 2011 (the Regulation).
South Africa – Diving regulations to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, authorised by the Minister of Labour. The South African diving regulations regulate professional diving using breathing apparatus, and specifically exclude instruction of recreational divers and recreational dive leadership. They apply only where the Occupational Health and Safety Act applies, so do not cover diving in minerals and energy industries, which have different safety legislation.
There have been two versions of the Diving Regulations, dated 2001 and 2009 (sometimes referred to as Diving Regulations 2010 at they were published in January 2010. New regulations are drawn up with input from the Diving Advisory Board, a body appointed in terms of the existing regulations.
United Kingdom – The diving at Work Regulations 1997, Statutory Instruments 1997 No. 2776 Health and Safety 
- Federal regulations: – Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR), Part Number: 1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Subpart: T - Commercial Diving Operations. Standard Number: 1910.424 - SCUBA diving. Federal regulations have exemptions for scientific diving and for search and rescue in some states, when there is a reasonable expectation of rescuing a survivor.
- AAUS. "The AAUS Standards for Scientific Diving Certification and Operation of Scientific Diving Programs". Retrieved 2008-07-13.
- AAUS. "A brief history of the AAUS exemption". Retrieved 2008-07-13.
- Sharkey, P.; Austin, L. "Federal Regulation Of Scientific Diving: Two Scientific Divers' Perspective". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
- "Diving Regulations 2009". Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 – Regulations and Notices – Government Notice R41. Pretoria: Government Printer. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 3 November 2016 – via Southern African Legal Information Institute.
- Flemming, N. C.; Max, M. D., eds. (1988), Code of Practice for Scientific Diving: Principles for the Safe Practice of Scientific Diving in Different Environments. UNESCO Technical Papers in Marine Science 53 (PDF), Scientific Committee of Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Div. of Marine Sciences, ISSN 0503-4299, OCLC 18056894, retrieved 8 February 2013
- Staff (2 December 2011). "Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2011" (PDF). Queensland Government Gazette. Brisbane, Queensland: Minister for Education and Industrial Relations. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- Occupational Heath and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (PDF). Pretoria: Government Printer. 1993 – via www.labour.gov.za.
- Staff (1977). "The Diving at Work Regulations 1997". Statutory Instruments 1997 No. 2776 Health and Safety. Kew, Richmond, Surrey: Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO). Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- "Subpart: T - Commercial Diving Operations. Standard Number: 1910.424 - SCUBA diving". Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR), Part Number: 1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Washington, DC: US Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved 16 November 2016.