Where Can I Find the HIN Number on a Vessel?

The HIN number is to a boat as the VIN number is to a car. This 12 or 14 character number identifies each boat. Any vessel that was manufactured or imported after or on November 1st, 1972 has to have a HIN.

For the most part, a HIN is on a plastic or metal plate on the boat’s transom. That’s on the starboard side of the transom within two inches of the hull/deck join, gunwale, or transom – typically, whichever of those is the lowest.

For vessels that don’t have transoms, the HIN is, for the most part, on the outboard starboard side of the hull, aft, within two inches of the top of the hull/deck joint, gunwale, hull side, and within a foot of the stern.

To apply for vessel registration, click here.

For more about Hull Identification Numbers, see Title 33, Chapter I, Subchapter S part 181 below:

§ 181.23 Hull identification numbers required.

    • (a) A manufacturer must identify each boat produced or imported with primary and secondary hull identification numbers permanently affixed in accordance with § 181.29 of this subpart.


    • (b) A person who manufactures or imports a boat for his or her own use and not for sale must obtain the required hull identification number in accordance with the requirements of the issuing authority listed in 33 CFR part 173, Appendix A for the boat’s State of principal operation and permanently affix the HIN to the boat in accordance with § 181.29 of this subpart.


    • (c) No person may assign the same HIN to more than one boat.


[USCG-2003-14963, 77 FR 18703, Mar. 28, 2012]

§ 181.25 Hull identification number format.

Each of the hull identification numbers required by § 181.23 must consist of twelve characters, uninterrupted by slashes, hyphens, or spaces, as follows:

    • (a) The first three characters must be a manufacturer identification code assigned under § 181.31(a) or the importer designation assigned under § 181.31(b).


    • (b) Characters four through eight must be a serial number assigned by the manufacturer in letters of the English alphabet, or Arabic numerals, or both, except the letters I, O, and Q.


    • (c) Characters nine and ten must indicate the month and year of certification when a date of certification is required. In all other cases characters nine and ten must indicate the date of manufacture. The date indicated can be no earlier than the date construction or assembly began and no later than the date the boat leaves the place of manufacture or assembly or is imported into the United States for the purposes of sale. Character nine must be indicated using letters of the English alphabet. The first month of the year, January, must be designated by the letter “A”, the second month, February, by the letter “B”, and so on until the last month of the year, December. Character ten must be the last digit of the year of manufacture or certification and must be an Arabic numeral.


    • (d) Characters eleven and twelve must indicate the model year using Arabic numerals for the last two numbers of the model year such as “82” for 1982 and “83” for 1983.


§ 181.27 Information displayed near hull identification number.

With the exception of the characters “US-”, which constitute the country of origin code for the United States, if information is displayed on the boat within 2 inches of the 12-character hull identification number (HIN), that information must be separated from the HIN by means of borders or must be on a separate label, so that it will not be interpreted as part of the hull identification number.

[USCG-2003-14272, 69 FR 33860, June 17, 2004]

§ 181.29 Hull identification number display.

Two identical hull identification numbers are required to be displayed on each boat hull.

    • (a) The primary hull identification number must be affixed –


      1. On boats with transoms, to the starboard outboard side of the transom within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest.


      1. On boats without transoms or on boats on which it would be impractical to use the transom, to the starboard outboard side of the hull, 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.


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


      1. If the hull identification number would not be visible, because of rails, fittings, or other accessories, the number must be affixed as near as possible to the location specified in paragraph (a) of this section.


    • (b) The duplicate hull identification number must be affixed in an unexposed location on the interior of the boat or beneath a fitting or item of hardware.


    • (c) Each hull identification number must be carved, burned, stamped, embossed, molded, bonded, or otherwise permanently affixed to the boat so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious. If the number is on a separate plate, the plate must be fastened in such a manner that its removal would normally cause some scarring of or damage to the surrounding hull area. A hull identification number must not be attached to parts of the boat that are removable.


    • (d) The characters of each hull identification number must be no less than one-fourth of an inch high.


[CGD 79-013, 48 FR 40718, Sept. 19, 1983; 48 FR 53558, Nov. 28, 1983]