Vessel Documentation Databank: What Are Endorsements?

For a lot of boat owners, the process of completing vessel documentation can be a time-consuming and confusing experience, especially when it comes to which endorsement to choose. It could even be the case that you have already picked one endorsement but are considering choosing a new one. We are often asked by clients about endorsements and the process of choosing the right option for your vessel. Making the right decision can go a long way towards ensuring the legality of operating and using your boat. With all of this in mind, here is some vital information around the simple question; what are endorsements?

What Are Endorsements?

In simple terms, an endorsement is a statement of purpose for your vessel. In selecting one, you are essentially saying ‘This is how I am going to be using my documented vessel’. There are certain rules and regulations attached to different endorsements, but in essence, they are a service of information and a way of letting the powers that be know how you are planning on using your vessel.

Coastwise And Fishery

Two of the most common endorsements are Coastwise and Fishery. Put simply, if you are planning on using your boat for the transportation of people within the United States waters and in the Exclusive Economic Zone, then Coastwise is the choice. Obviously, if commercial fishing is the plan for your vessel, then the Fishery endorsement is the one that you are going to want to select.


There is also a Registry endorsement, which might seem a little superfluous seeing as your documented vessel will already be registered, but this endorsement is specifically for vessels that are going to be used for the purpose of foreign trade. In particular, boats that are going to be used for trade outside of specified American waters.

vessel documentation


It goes with saying that the most common endorsement by far is the recreational endorsement, by a significant margin. To qualify for this endorsement, you just need to be using your vessel for the simple purpose of entertaining and spending time on the water with family and friends. Recreational endorsement is the option for boat owners who are not planning on using their vessel for any kind of commercial purpose, so not making from their ownership in any way. Any vessel can be used for recreation, even if it was used in a different context by a different owner in the past. At the other end of this equation, a vessel with only a Recreational endorsement cannot be used for any other purpose.

So, if you are seeking any help and assistance with your endorsements or any other element on the spectrum of vessel documentation, then don’t hesitate to take advantage of the simple error-checking and processing services that can be found at the US Vessel Registrar. Feel free to get in touch with any of our experienced team members and they will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have. We look forward to being able to help.