2024 USCG Documentation Endorsements Explained

USCG Documentation

Have you gotten to the part of the initial vessel documentation application that asks about your “endorsement?” Are you unsure which endorsement is right for you? That’s one of the many ways we can help here at our USCG documentation portal. Picking the right endorsement is crucial for using your vessel how you want to, yes, but you can also change your endorsement as well at our site. 

Navigating the seas of boat documentation forms can be a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to figure out the right endorsement for your vessel. Understanding the implications of each endorsement is crucial to ensuring that you can use your boat the way you want while staying in compliance with the Coast Guard.

If You’re Planning on Using Your Vessel for Fun: “Recreational” 

One of the most common endorsements is the “Recreational” endorsement. This endorsement is suitable for those who purchase a documentation-eligible vessel purely for recreational purposes. 

If your plan is to enjoy boat rides with friends and family without engaging in commercial activities or making a profit, the Recreational endorsement is the way to go. It allows for some flexibility, such as accepting a few bucks from passengers to cover gas expenses for a recreational trip, that kind of thing.  However, if your boat ventures into certain commercial activities, you’ll need a different endorsement.

The “Fishery” and “Coastwise” Endorsements Explained 

For those looking to use their vessel for fishing activities within the navigable waters of the United States or in the EEZ/Exclusive Economic Zone (up to 200 nautical miles off the coast) the “Fishery” endorsement is the appropriate choice. 

It’s worth noting that having a Fishery endorsement doesn’t restrict your ability to use the vessel for recreational purposes; it simply designates the primary use as fishing. If your boat is intended for transporting people or goods within U.S. navigable waters, the “Coastwise” endorsement is what you need. This endorsement is suitable for those who plan to charge passengers for transportation or engage in the transportation of goods. 

“Registry” – International Travel 

The idea of a documentation endorsement entitled “Registry” may sound a bit redundant. But, this is actually the endorsement for those who plan to use their documented vessel in international trade. 

So, if your commercial activities extend beyond the United States, the “Registry” endorsement is the right choice. It allows for commerce in foreign lands and ensures compliance with international regulations.

Want to Change Endorsements? Use the “Change of Endorsement/Trade Indicator” 

The beauty of these endorsements is their flexibility. You can switch between them as needed, allowing you to adapt to changing circumstances and continue using your vessel in the way that suits your goals. Whether you’re focused on domestic transportation, international commerce, or simply recreational activities, there’s an endorsement that aligns with your intentions.

USCG Documentation

Extensive Catalog of USCG Documentation at our Portal 

While the discussion so far has covered just one aspect of boat documentation, it’s essential to recognize that there are numerous other forms available. For instance, after completing the initial registration form, you’ll eventually need to renew your vessel’s registration. This process, along with other documentation requirements, can also be conveniently handled through our website.

Even if your registration lapses and expires, don’t worry. Our site provides a “Reinstatement” form, allowing you to quickly get back on the water in full compliance once you’ve rectified any lapses. Our goal is to simplify the documentation process, ensuring that you can focus more on enjoying your time on the water and less on bureaucratic hurdles.

With the right endorsements, you can use your vessel in the manner you desire while adhering to Coast Guard regulations. To see all we offer, click here.