Understanding US Coast Guard Boat Documentation Endorsements

Do you know what you want to do with your new vessel, but aren’t certain how to make it in compliance with the Coast Guard? Are you completing your initial documentation and have gotten to part J. “Endorsements for Which Application is Made” and aren’t sure which to choose? These are common concerns that vessel owners have. Picking an endorsement is important. But, you want to make sure it’s the right endorsement. At our US Coast Guard boat documentation site, we can help you to determine which endorsement is right (as well as assisting you in changing it if necessary). 

US Coast Guard Boat Documentation

This is probably the most common of the endorsements. It’s exactly what it sounds like: you’re using this vessel to have a good time, more or less. You aren’t charging other folks to be on it. You aren’t using this vessel for commercial or business purposes. Perhaps you take it out on weekends, or during the summer, with friends or family. Even if you let your friends kick in some money for gas, you still qualify for “Recreational.” Remember: with all of the other endorsements, you can still use your vessel for recreation. However, if you have the Recreational endorsement, you can only use your vessel for recreation. 


Are you transporting people or goods through the navigable waters of the United States or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ?) If that’s the case, then the “Coastwise” endorsement is the right endorsement for you. Likewise, if you’re fishing the navigable waters of the United States or in the EEZ, then you want to get the “Fisher” endorsement. For a good approximation of what constitutes the “Exclusive Economic Zone” – it’s roughly 200 nautical miles off of the coast of the United States. So, if you’re doing business in there, then it makes sense to get this endorsement. 

Registry and Change 

“I’ve already registered my vessel and I’m documenting it,” you might think, “so, I should get the ‘Registry’ endorsement, yeah?” Not exactly. The Registry endorsement is for those engaging in foreign trade. So, if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of business with your vessel in waters foreign to the United States, then “Registry” is your endorsement. That said, businesses and lives can change in the blink of an eye. If you decide it’s time for a new endorsement, then you can take care of that on our site, too. 

Boat Renewal and More 

Once you’ve figured out your endorsement, you’ll be well on your way to completing your documentation. However, keep in mind, you’re going to have to renew this next year, too. That said, you won’t have to do it every year if you go through us here at the Maritime Documentation Center. We’ve made it possible to renew your documentation for up to five years in advance. We see it as just one more way that we can make life easier for vessel owners. For more help or to talk to an expert, call us at (800) 535-8570 or fill out our contact form