USCG Documentation Endorsements: Endorsing How You Want to Use Your Vessel

Do you have a clear idea of how you want to use your vessel but want to be certain that you’re in compliance with the powers that be? Are you completing your initial USCG documentation and have gotten to the part that mentions “Endorsements for Which Application is Made” and aren’t entirely sure what to answer? If you’re documenting a vessel for the first time, it can be confusing when you get to the part that says “Recreational,” “Fishery,” “Coastwise,” and “Registry.” Choosing the right endorsement can make sure you can legally use your vessel how you want. 

The Endorsements Explained: Coastwise and Fishery 

If you’re going to use your vessel for fishing activities in American navigable waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), then the Fishery endorsement is the right one for your needs. If alternatively, you plan on transporting people and or goods on those same waters, then the right endorsement is “Coastwise.” (This makes sense, as you’re engaged in “coastwise trade.”) As always, if you have any questions about which is the right endorsement for your vessel, our staff will be more than happy to help. 

USCG Documentation


“Registry” can sound a bit confusing since, after all, you’re “registering” your vessel. Thus, it can sound a bit redundant. But, as the law says, “a registry endorsement entitles a vessel to employment in the foreign trade; trade with Guam, American Samoa, Wake, Midway, or Kingman Reef; and any other employment for which a coastwise, or fishery endorsement is not required.” 

Recreational Endorsement – And Why You Would Get It 

This is the endorsement for those who want to use their vessel to have fun with family and friends. To be clear, any vessel with any endorsement can be used for recreation. But, a vessel with a “Recreational” endorsement can’t be used for anything but recreation. Now, you might think: “OK, that all sounds real nice, but, if I’m just going to use my vessel to have a good time, why am I getting it documented in the first place?” Well, there are many reasons, not the least of which is that, if it’s documented, you can then get a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage. That could make the financing of your vessel that much easier. 

Changing the Endorsement on Your USCG Documentation and More 

Are you worried about getting a particular endorsement for your vessel only to worry that it’s the wrong one? Or, alternatively, have you already gotten an endorsement for your vessel only to discover that another endorsement might be far more lucrative and better for your situation? If that’s the case, that’s fine. You’re not “locked into an endorsement forever” or anything of that nature. At our site, you can change it any time by filing the “Change of Endorsement/Trade INdicator” form. In fact, you can find all of the vessel documentation forms that you might need at our site. To see everything that we have to offer, click here or call (800) 535-8570.