How to Choose the Right Vessel Documentation Endorsements

Vessel Documentation

Have you gotten to the part of your initial documentation where you’re supposed to choose an “endorsement” and aren’t sure what that means? Does it seem like it’s a tougher question than it should be? We get it. “Endorsement” is one of those words that, in vessel documentation, can have different meanings than it might in other contexts. We can help you to pick the right endorsement and keep your documentation valid, too. 

These endorsements hold the key to unlocking the full potential of how you can utilize your vessel. Your choice of endorsement on your US vessel registration can significantly impact the scope of activities your vessel can engage in.

Coastwise/Fishery: Navigating Commercial Waters

For those with aspirations beyond recreation, the “Coastwise” endorsement opens up the opportunity to transport people or goods within the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone, extending approximately two hundred miles off the US coast. 

If your focus is on commercial fishing or transporting fish for commercial purposes, the “Fishery” endorsement is tailored to suit your needs. Additionally, specific “Coastwise” endorsements cater to unique circumstances, ensuring a customized fit for your vessel’s intended use.

Registry and Diverse Applications

Navigating the intricacies of the “Registry” endorsement may initially seem confusing. Contrary to common vessels being “registered,” this endorsement is primarily reserved for vessels engaged in foreign trade or utilized in foreign waters. 

It’s important to highlight that obtaining vessel documentation doesn’t necessarily tether your vessel to commercial activities. Many vessel owners opt for the “Recreational” endorsement solely to facilitate financing, as lenders traditionally require vessel documentation for approval.

Recreational Endorsement: Cruising for Pleasure

Among the plethora of endorsements available, the “Recreational” endorsement stands out as the most common choice for those who seek pure enjoyment without venturing into commercial waters. If your vessel is reserved for family outings or joyrides with friends, the “Recreational” endorsement is your go-to option. 

However, it’s crucial to note that a vessel with a “Recreational” endorsement cannot be used for fishery or coastwise operations. This endorsement is exclusively designed for leisurely pursuits on the water.

Changing Course: Modifying Your Endorsement

Selecting the right endorsement is a pivotal decision, shaping the entire trajectory of your vessel’s use. However, circumstances change, and flexibility is key. If you initially chose a “Fishery” endorsement but circumstances evolve, and you envision greater potential in transporting people, fear not. 

The option to modify your endorsement is available, allowing you to seamlessly transition from “Fishery” to “Coastwise” or explore other endorsements that align with your evolving goals.

Vessel Documentation

Navigating the Paper Trail

Understanding the nuances of US vessel registration and endorsements can be a daunting task. Should questions arise about the endorsement selection process or any related forms, our dedicated team is here to assist you. Reach out to us through our website, and we’ll provide the guidance you need to navigate the intricate waters of vessel documentation. Your vessel, your journey—let the endorsements chart the course for your maritime aspirations.