Verification: The Inside Story
Sep 30, 2019 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Boat marking check mark in the water

Have you ever found a needle in a haystack? What about uncovering the rules about captain licenses in Hawaii? This is the type of challenge our Legal Team deals with on a daily basis. 

We work with over five and a half thousand captains in more than 100 countries worldwide. Fully understanding the documentation in any of these markets is an immense task.  Each country has its own authorities, and the rules are often completely different depending on the state or region.

Not to mention the fact that different styles of fishing are often regulated in different ways. And then the fact that the rules are always subject to change. 

Here’s what we’ve been doing to promote captains that are legitimate, even against these odds. 

Research, Research, Research 

Researching fishing on the computer

It’s pointless asking people to send you their captain’s licenses unless you know what’s actually required. So it won’t come as a surprise that our Legal Team spends most of their time on research.

Most charters we work with are in the United States, so this is the country the team has spent the most time researching. What makes the US particularly challenging is that it’s a federation – and the rules for guided fishing trips vary significantly from state to state. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this can sometimes feel like you’re working with 50 different countries! 

Part of this process means contacting the state authorities to learn more about what they require for people to operate legally. This gives our team a clearer picture of exactly what fulfills requirements, so they don’t have to rely on anecdotes or patchy information. Instead, they’re focusing on nourishing our relationships with different authorities, to learn more about the industry and to help promote licensed captains everywhere.

The research doesn’t stop there. We’re always looking for more ways to make our product more user friendly to customers and captains.

One day, we hope to provide more detailed information about what a captain is licensed to do. We’re looking into making a categorizing system for different types of guides. This way, we could show whether a captain can fish in state or federal waters, or if they are a saltwater captain or a freshwater guide with quotas for a specific fish species. 

Our Two-pronged Approach to Verification in the US

Benefits of enhanced check vs basic check

Thanks to all this research, the Legal Team created a huge database of legal requirements in the US. Then, they were able to find out which of the captains on FishingBooker fulfill them. 

Now, they can find out if a captain is licensed properly, even before they send us their credentials. 

We call this process a “basic check.” It involves searching for the charter company in public records such as the US Coast Guard database, NOAA databases, and state licensing authority databases. Whenever someone lists in the US, they go through this check. If they pass, they can stay on the website, even before they’re fully verified. This is how some people still have a listing in the US even if they haven’t sent their documents in.

If we don’t find a US captain’s credentials and we don’t receive their documents, we unpublish their listing.

We haven’t always done it this way. But now, we have removed unlicensed US captains who were on the site previously, as well as stopping new people from staying on the website if they don’t have the right credentials. 

It’s only once we receive and approve a captain’s documents that we fully verify them. This is what we call an “enhanced check.” We promote captains who have passed this check. This increases customer trust and makes them more likely to book. 

Outside of the United States, we currently only offer the enhanced check to promote verified captains. Due to varying safety regulations around the world, we don’t provide a basic check in other countries at the moment. However, we’re currently working on expanding the list of places where we provide this.

How We Verify Licenses Worldwide

Screenshot of verification page showing where to upload documents

If you have a FishingBooker listing, you’ve probably seen our verification page. This is your path to showing us that you have the right documentation for running fishing charters – and then unlocking the benefits of being verified. But how can this one page possibly apply to all the countries we work with?

After collecting information from hundreds of captains, our team outlined some umbrella requirements for fishing all over the world. These show us whether someone has taken steps to operate legitimately in their area, wherever they come from. 

What We’re Looking For:

  • Proof that you have the necessary qualification to operate a boat, if your state or country requires this. This is usually called a captain’s or skipper’s license. If you don’t use a boat for your fishing trips and fish freshwater, we’ll ask for your freshwater guide license.
  • Documentation showing you’re registered with your state authority to take paying customers fishing and land fish in state ports. This is usually called a charter license or a commercial fishing license. 
  • Proof that your boat is registered with the state authority.
  • An insurance certificate for your boat. 

These documents have different names all over the world. Understanding everything we receive and finding out whether it matches up with our core requirements is one of the Legal Team’s more interesting challenges!

Once we receive your paperwork, we check to make sure it matches up with what’s on your listing. If everything’s as it should be, we award the verification badge to your listing.

When we verify a captain, we keep a log of when all their documents will expire. If what they sent us expires, we email them and they lose their verified status until they show us their most recent documents. This is how we stay on the pulse of who’s currently operating legitimately in the local area. 

What if you’re concerned about someone in your area?

If you think that someone’s listed on FishingBooker and they are not operating legally, let us know. Please be aware that our verification system is limited to checking the documents outlined above. We’re currently unable to verify things such as whether captains are registered to operate out of a certain port. But we will always follow up with your request, with the ultimate aim of promoting legal, safe charter operators worldwide. 

Still not fully verified?

Simply head to the secure verification page on your profile to upload your documents. Don’t worry: We understand that licenses and permits often have sensitive information on them. All we want to see is that the document is current, that it’s in the captain or owner’s name, and how long it’s valid for. Feel free to cover or black out anything else – we don’t require you to show us personal information such as your address or date of birth. 

Once we receive your documents, we’ll be in touch, either verifying you right away or letting you know if we need anything additional. This process can take up to two weeks. 

Getting verified is one of the best ways you can build your online reputation and customer trust. Don’t miss out!

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