Why You Need a Coastwise Endorsement

A coastwise endorsement is a form of U.S. Coast Guard documentation that allows a vessel to engage in coastwise trade that does not require a registry or fishery endorsement. This includes the transportation of merchandise and passengers between points acknowledged in the United States coastwise laws. If you intend to carry out such trade, you need to obtain this endorsement on the Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation for your vessel.

Eligibility for Coastwise Endorsement

To be eligible for coastwise endorsement, your vessel must have been built in the United States or granted coastwise trading privileges by special legislation. Any boat that has been forfeited to or captured by U.S. authorities may also become eligible once they are bought, leased, or chartered by U.S. citizens.

This type of restriction is not unusual: like many nations, the U.S. has “cabotage” laws that require cargo or passengers being transported between the nation’s ports to be carried by vessels registered in this country.

Factors Affecting Eligibility

Under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, a boat will lose its eligibility for coastwise endorsement permanently if it is registered in a foreign country.

Other restrictions include:

  • The boat must be owned, operated, and controlled by a citizen of the U.S.
  • It may not be owned by a partnership or corporation that does not meet the citizenship requirements

Applying for a coastwise endorsement involves a lot of paperwork: there are forms that must be filled out and supporting documents that you need to collect and provide. To ensure that you get the necessary approval in a timely manner, contact the Marine Documentation Division at Howard S. Reeder. We will review your eligibility, complete the necessary paperwork, and explain your obligations once your vessel is endorsed so that your future decisions can be made with those guidelines in mind.

Written by Howard S Reeder Inc

Howard S. Reeder, Inc is a family-owned business which has been in operation since 1940 when Howard S. Reeder Sr. founded our customs brokerage company and began helping importers bring products into the United States. Now on our third generation of ownership, both our company and our areas of expertise have greatly expanded over the more than 75 years since our inception.