Coast Guard Documentation Endorsements Explained: Your Vessel, Your Way

Do you know how you want to use your vessel, but you aren’t sure which endorsements are right for it? Have you been filling out your Coast Guard documentation application, only to not know what to write when you got to section J: “Endorsements for Which Application is Made?” Here at the Maritime Documentation Center, we see our job as making the entire documentation process (including endorsements) easier on vessel owners like you. 

Coastwise and Fishery

There are tens of thousands of vessels right now that have endorsements for “Coastwise” and “Fishery.” “Coastwise” means that the vessel is able to legally transport passengers and/or merchandise on navigable waters of the United States as well as the Exclusive Economic Zone. The latter, “Fishery,” means that vessel owners are allowed to use their vessels for fishing activities in those same waters. However, to qualify for either of those endorsements, you have to provide evidence that the vessel was built in the United States. Of course, to qualify for documentation in the first place, your vessel must measure at least five net tons in volume. 

Coast Guard Documentation

Registry and Recreational 

“Registry” is perhaps the endorsement we’re asked about the most. “If you’ve registered your vessel, doesn’t that mean it has ‘Registry,” we’re sometimes asked. The truth is that the “Registry” endorsement is for those vessels which are going to be used for foreign trade. The most popular endorsement, by far, is “Recreation.” This is exactly what it sounds like: this vessel will be used by the owners to have a good time with family and friends, with no commercial purpose behind it. No matter how you want to use your documented vessel, we have the forms that can help make it happen. 

Why People Get Coast Guard Documentation if They Don’t Need It 

The “Recreation” endorsement is more popular than all of the rest for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you qualify for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage with it. Instead of having to pay for your vessel all at once when you buy it, you can get financing for your documented vessel. Indeed, just about every lender will demand that your vessel be documented for you to receive financing. Not only can you find the forms for this at our site, but you can also find what you’ll need to send in once you pay off your mortgage, too. 

All the Documentation You Could Need 

Something to keep in mind about endorsements: you can change them. Just because you got one endorsement on your initial documentation doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever. Maybe you initially got your vessel just to use it for fun, but have found that you could make some good money transporting goods and/or people. Perhaps you stumbled across some lucrative fishing waters. No matter what the case may be, you can find the forms you need at our site to change your endorsement, too. To see all that we offer, head to our site.