Understanding HIN

How do I check how old my boat is?

Every boat made after 1972 is required to have a hull identification number.

What does a HIN number mean?

A hull number, or hull identification number (HIN) is the serial identification number for a ship, yacht or a boat. The HIN is a 12 or 14 alphanumeric serial number that uniquely identifies a boat. It is basically the same as a VIN for a car. All boats manufactured or imported on or after November 1, 1972 is required to have a HIN and this number must be identified during boat / vessel registration.

Where can I find my HIN – Hull Identification Number?

The HIN is usually located on the starboard aft of the boat. It is usually imprinted into the gel coat. See where yours can be according to your boat type by clicking here.

Decoding HIN - Hull Identification Numbers

All vessels manufactured for consumption within the United States after November 1, 1972 are required to have a twelve character hull identification number which must be formatted according the the charts shown below.
HIN example

In the example above appears a US made Carolina skiff with the unique serial number U0085. It was built in August of 2016 and is a 2017 model year boat


US = country code (2 letters) for the 14 characters code ( to see the different HIN formats click here )

SEE = manufacturers id code, MIC (alpha-numeric) for all manufacturers id code click here.

HIN serial number

U0085 = unique manufacturers’ serial number  (5 alpha-numeric)

HIN month and year

H6 = month and year boat was built.

    • H is the 8 letter of the alphabet representing production month 8, i.e. August.
    • 6 represents production year (tied in to the next two digits)
HIN model year

17 = model year number (2 digits)

It’s important to note that you may not legally:
  • Change the 12 digit number so that it appears to be a different boat
  • Paint over or cover the number
  • Obscure the number in any way
  • Otherwise deface, remove, or destroy the number

Where to find the HIN on my vessel

location of hull-identification-number

Transom – On boats with transoms (flat backs), to the starboard outboard side within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest.

HIN starboard outboard side

Without Transoms – On boats without transoms or boats on which it would be impractical to use the transom, to the starboard outboard side, aft, within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of the hull side, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest.

HIN location catamaran

Catamaran – On catamarans and pontoon boats that have readily replaceable hulls, to the aft crossbeam within one foot of the starboard hull attachment.

Other Locations – If rails or other accessories would obscure a HIN, it should be affixed as near as possible to the starboard outboard side within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest.​

An unexposed location on the interior of the boat or beneath a fitting or item of hardware. If the primary HIN is missing, the owner should call the manufacturer to try to find the secondary HIN. The Coast Guard wants the original HIN used if possible.

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