Coast Guard Boat Requirements for the Different Endorsements

Are you in the process of completing your initial vessel documentation and aren’t sure which endorsement to put? Does it seem a bit more confusing than it should be, even though you know exactly how you plan on using your vessel? Picking the right endorsement for your vessel is crucial to maintaining compliance with Coast Guard regulations. Not having the right endorsement can cause any number of problems. While it’s possible to change your endorsement, it’s not the kind of thing you want to have to do often. There are different Coast Guard boat requirements for each endorsement. 


“Coastwise” may sound odd, but all it means is that you’re transporting merchandise or people between points in the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). While the EEZ can be a bit nebulous, for the most part, it extends about two hundred nautical miles off of the coasts of the United States. So, simply put, if you’re transporting people or goods on US waters or in the EEZ, then “Coastwise” is, well, a wise endorsement for you to get for your vessel at this time. 

Fishery and Registry 

“Fishery” is very similar to Coastwise, except, instead of transporting merchandise or passengers, you’re fishing. If you’re fishing those same waters, the navigable waters of the US, or in the EEZ, then you should get the Fishery endorsement. We often receive questions about the “Registry” endorsement. Typically, that’s used for foreign trade. So, if you use your documented vessel to go to another country, to fish there, to transport merchandise and/or people, then you’re going to want to get “Registry.” 


You may have read to this part of the blog and thought: “Uh, that all sounds good, but I’m just going to use my documented vessel to have a good time.” That’s perfectly fine! That’s where the “Recreation” endorsement comes in. It’s exactly what it sounds like: the endorsement for when you just want to use your vessel to have fun. That said, remember: all of the other vessels can be used for recreation. It’s not like you’re going to be out on your Coastwise vessel during an off-day with family and friends, then the Coast Guard will stop you and say: “I’m sorry, you can’t have a good time on this boat.” All vessels can be used for recreation, but Recreation-endorsed vessels can’t be used for anything else. 

Always Be in Compliance with Coast Guard Boat Requirements 

Maybe, after a while, you decide to upgrade your Recreation-endorsed vessel, start a new business, and want to get into Coastwise trade. Should you want to change your endorsement, we have the forms for you to be able to do that. In fact, we have forms for just about everything you’ll need in regards to vessel documentation. If you have any questions about how this all works, our experienced, knowledgeable staff is more than happy to help. For more contact us: (800) 535-8570.