Coast Guard Documentation to Utilize Your Vessel How You Want

Are you filling out your initial Coast Guard documentation and are stumped by section “J,” “Endorsements for Which Application is Made?” Do you feel unsure about which of those is right for your vessel and your needs? “Endorsements” are an important part of your documentation. In a very real way, they let the powers that be know how you intend to use your vessel. It’s the kind of thing that you want to get right. At the Maritime Documentation Center, we’ve helped vessel owners who are using their vessels for all sorts of reasons to get the right endorsement. 


As you can see in section J, they aren’t going by alphabetical order. “Recreational” is at the top because it might be the most common endorsement. This is the endorsement that says you’re going to use your vessel for, well, recreation. You’re going to use it to have fun with friends and family. Specifically, you aren’t going to use it to make money. This is the endorsement folk choose if they’re getting their vessel documented so that they can get a mortgage on the vessel. 


Are you going to use your vessel for transporting people or goods on the navigable waters of the United States or more or less two hundred miles off of the American coast (also known as the “Exclusive Economic Zone?”) If that’s the case, then you’re going to want the “Coastwise” endorsement. However, if you read the rest of this paragraph and thought: “that sounds like what I’m interested in, yet I’m going to do it for fishery activities,” then “Fishery” is the right endorsement for you. With these endorsements, you can use your vessel how you want. 

Registry and Change

“Registry,” as an endorsement, doesn’t refer to “registration of your vessel.” Rather, that’s the endorsement that’s used for foreign trade with your vessel. So, if you’re going to be using your vessel for business overseas, then that’s probably the endorsement for you. Something to keep in mind: these endorsements aren’t ironclad. You aren’t stuck with having one for the rest of your life. If you want to change these endorsements at any time, you can do that, too. All you have to do is complete the “Change of Endorsement / Trade Indicator” form at our site. 

All the Coast Guard Documentation You’ll Need 

Endorsements are, of course, important. But, they aren’t the only part of vessel documentation. They’re really just one part of one form. We understand that they can be as confusing and opaque as any other part of vessel documentation. If you have any questions about these forms, such as: “I know my vessel is probably ‘Coastwise,” but with so many different ‘Coastwise’ options, I’m not sure which one is right for me,” then we’ve got you covered. As we’re a true Maritime Documentation Center, we have a team of professionals on hand who are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Just call (800) 535-8570 or fill out our contact form.