The route on your captain’s license describes the waters that the license is authorized to be used on. The most common routes are Inland, Near Coastal, and Ocean; but there are also limited and restricted routes as well. To determine the route on your license read the wording carefully; if it says Inland, Near Coastal, or Ocean than you have the full route for those waters; if it says Restricted or Limited to a specific waterway, company, or vessel than you have a lessor route.
Limited and Restricted Routes are not the same as an Inland Route. These routes are restricted to very specific inland waterways and sometimes for a specific boat, company, or situation. The sea service gained on these routes can be applied towards an Inland, Near Coastal, or Ocean routes; but the mariner will be required to complete the full set of exams for the license when upgrading to the full route.
An Inland Route is for all federally navigable inland waters in the United States. An Inland Route can be upgraded to a Near Coastal Route by documenting the qualifying experience for the superior route and completing a partial exam for that route.
A Near Coastal Route is for all federally navigable inland waters in the United States and the Near Coastal Ocean waters within 100 miles offshore for the OUPV and 200 miles offshore for the Master. A Near Coastal Route can be upgraded to an All Ocean Route by documenting the qualifying experience for the superior and completing a partial exam for that route.
An All Ocean Route is for all federally navigable waters in the United States and All Ocean waters. This route is not issued for an OUPV license. To qualify for an All Ocean Route the mariner must: Qualify as an Able Seaman; complete approved courses in advanced firefighting and radar observer unlimited training; And demonstrate knowledge in celestial navigation.