National Documentation Center Explanation of Endorsements

National Documentation Center

Have you been unsure as to which kind of documentation endorsement is appropriate for your vessel? Does the entire thing seem a bit more confusing than it should be? Vessel documentation jargon can seem opaque, out of date, and just downright difficult to understand. After all, much of it is “legalese,” in some cases going back centuries. That said, to be able to use your vessel in the manner you would like, there are some things to know about endorsements. As ever, our National Documentation Center can help. 

National Documentation Center for Vessels 

Not every vessel can be documented. To wit, a vessel can be documented if it measures at least five net tons and is owned by an American citizen (yes, there are some small exceptions). However, the vessels that must be documented are those which meet the above requirements and are used in fishing activities or coastwise trade on the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). “Coastwise trade” tends to mean “transporting merchandise or passengers,” and the “EEZ” stretches for about 200 nautical miles off of the coasts of America. 

What the Endorsements Mean 

Depending on how you’re going to use your vessel, there are different endorsements. If you’re going to use it in the “fishing activities” mentioned above, then you should get the “Fishery” endorsement. However, if that definition of coastwise trade sounded like what you’ll be doing, then the “Coastwise” endorsement would be the right call. If you’re going to use your vessel in foreign trade, then you’re most likely going to want to get the “Registry” endorsement. And, lastly, if you aren’t going to be doing any of that, and just want to use your vessel for recreation, there’s the (appropriately named) “Recreation” endorsement. 

Can You Change the Endorsements? 

Absolutely. Say that you got your Fishery endorsement because you believed you had a great business lined up for fishing, yet, after a few years, it didn’t work out as you’d hoped. However, with your vessel, you believe you could make some money transporting people. Then, you would want to change your endorsement from “Fishery” to “Coastwise.” Something to keep in mind: any vessel can be used for recreation. However, the vessels with a Recreation endorsement can only be used for recreation. 

All that our National Documentation Center Offers 

You can find all of the documentation forms you’ll need for all of the above at our site. That means you can find the initial documentation which lets you pick the endorsement. Should you want to change the endorsement, you can find those files as well. When you need to renew your documentation, we’ve got that covered. If you have any questions about anything mentioned above, our trained staff will be more than happy to help. They’ve helped so many vessel owners just like you to figure out what the right path to move forward is. To talk to them about this or anything else, just call: (866) 981-8783.