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Hull Identification Number on Boat: Things You Need to Know

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

hull identification number on boat

We can find a series of numbers and letters at the back of a boat known as the hull identification number (HIN). It is said that HIN is important, and you may have heard of how it is required for boats to have them. But what exactly is the hull identification number on boat, and what is it used for?

In this article, we’ll find out more about the HIN. We’ll cover what information is contained in this series of characters, how to read them, and how they are used.

Keep reading to learn more.

The Hull Identification Number


We can find product identification numbers on many different items, specifically those produced with technology that improves as time goes by. Newer models that use more advanced technology may end up being worth more than older models. Automobiles were the first to have them with Vehicle Identification Numbers that are still used today.

The hull identification number or HIN is another name for the boat’s serial number, indicating important manufacturing information on the boat. By looking at the HIN, we can find specific details about the boat, such as its company or manufacturer, its production year, and certain identifiers.

Displaying the hull ID number is required by the US Coast Guard, and the HIN needs to be visible even when on the water. The proper hull identification number location is on the upper section of the starboard side, which fulfills the visibility requirement. It is illegal to change or remove the HIN of a boat without proper authorization.

Whether a boat was imported from outside the country or produced locally, every boat needs to have a HIN. If your boat does not have one, you must request one from the boat manufacturer. In case your boat is a custom-m

Understanding the Hull Identification Number


The HIN is made up of 12 characters, a combination of numbers and letters, and each section stands for something.

  • The first three characters of the HIN are known as the manufacturer identification code (MIC), which is a three-character designation unique to a boat manufacturing company.
  • For Example, Sea Ray is designated with SER, while Yamaha has YAM as its designation.
  • The USCG Boating website lists the different manufacturers and their MIC, though be warned that some companies such as Yamaha have multiple entries. Past company entities also had their unique designation. You can also check the entries to see if a company is still active or not.
  • The next five characters, a combination of numbers and letters, represent the manufacturer-assigned serial of the boat. It’s worth noting that the letters I, Q and O are not used to avoid confusing similar-looking numbers.
  • The ninth and tenth characters stand for the time of certification. There may be a letter ranging from A to L representing a specific month of the year with A for January and L for December, while the number would be the last digit of the year of certification. You may also find just two numbers representing the last two digits of the certification year.
  • The last two characters of the HIN are numbers that represent the model year where the boat belongs. It is important to note the difference between certification year or the year a boat was built and the model year.

HIN Sample


  • XYZ will refer to the manufacturer ID
  • 13579 is the manufacturer-specified serial number for the boat
  • G9 refers to July 2009, which is the month and year of certification
  • 09 refers to the model year, which is 2009

A boat may have a certification year that is different from its model year. This just means that the boat was produced at a later time.

How HIN Work

The main purpose of the HIN is to differentiate a specific boat from others. To this end, a boat manufactured after a certain year would also have a backup number etched in a harder-to-find location. This ensures that the Coast Guard would still have a means of identifying the boat in case the main HIN was removed.

However, similar to VIN for cars, hull identification numbers useful for identifying boats are also useful for determining market value. Knowing when the boat was made along with its model year will make it easy to evaluate its value since you won’t have to go through many other steps such as hiring an expert to survey it, although this is always a good idea if purchasing a pre-owned boat.

The HIN found on the boat is also indicated in its registration papers. Matching the HIN on the boat with what is indicated on a boat’s papers is one way of checking if a boat’s registration is legitimate.


Now you know all about the hull identification number on boat and how to read important information from the twelve-character serial. It’s something that may come in handy down the line such as if you buy or sell a boat.

If anyone you know is curious to learn about the HIN of boats, please don’t hesitate to share what you know with them or send this article their way. Also, feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below. We’d very much like to hear from you.

Remember to boat safely.

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