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USCG Documentation Forms: Your Vessel, Your Choice of Use

Did you recently purchase a vessel, know exactly how you want to use it, but are concerned about being in compliance with the powers that be? Are you in the process of filling out your “Initial Vessel Documentation” form and you’re a bit stumped at the part that asks for “Endorsements for Which Application is Made?” USCG documentation forms have jargon all their own. That said, picking the right endorsement is important for making sure that you’re in compliance with authorities in terms of your vessel’s use.


This is the endorsement that very much is what it sounds like: you get this when you want to use your vessel for recreation. Hanging out, having a good time, partying with friends, taking family on boat rides around the lake – that’s all the kind of thing you can do with the “Recreational” endorsement. Bear in mind, though: when you have this endorsement, you can’t use your vessel for anything else. But, if you have one of the other endorsements, you can always use your vessel for recreation.

Fishery and Coastwise

Do you plan on engaging in commercial fishing on the navigable waters of the United States? Have you set your eyes on fishing (or transporting fish) in the “Exclusive Economic Zone?” (That idea of which is, more or less, about two hundred miles or so off of the coast of the United States.) If that’s the case, then you want to get the “Fishery” endorsement. However, if you plan on transporting people, goods, or other kinds of cargo in those same waters, then the “Coastwise” endorsement is what you’re looking for.

Registry and Change

“How can there be a ‘Registry’ endorsement if I’ve got my vessel registered?” We’ve heard some version of that question many times in the past. The truth is that “Registry” actually refers to vessels that are going to be primarily used for foreign trade. It’s important to choose the right endorsement. However, you can decide to alter them if you would like. Perhaps you wake up one day and realize that your vessel could do much more good for you carrying people as opposed to fish. If that’s the case, then you can use the “Change of Endorsement/Trade Indicator” form at our site.

All the USCG Documentation Forms You’ll Need

“But why do folks get the ‘Recreational’ endorsement?” That’s another common question. While many different vessel owners will have several different reasons, perhaps the most common one is: so that they can get a mortgage on the vessel. A strong majority of banks and lenders won’t offer financing for a vessel that isn’t documented. Of course, you can find all of the forms for that at our site as well. From the initial documentation through renewal, all of the mortgage ones and beyond, you can find all of the forms you’ll need for the course of vessel ownership right here. We can answer any of your questions at (866) 981-8783.