Boats manufactured on or after November 1, 1972 must bear a Hull Identification Number (HIN), whether manufactured in or imported into the United States or built by an individual for their own use, known as “backyard boat builders”. The HIN is a 12-character serial number that uniquely identifies each boat and is a Federal requirement.
A hull identification number is carved, burned, stamped, embossed or otherwise permanently affixed to the outboard side of the transom or hull. The number must be above the waterline of the vessel in such a way that any alteration, removal or replacement would be obvious and evident.
Hull numbers consist of numbers and letters of the English alphabet. A typical hull number for a Sea Ray is SERT4534J405. The first three or four characters are the MIC (Manufacturer Identification Code) assigned to the manufacturer by Coast Guard. The next 4 or 5 digits reflect the production or serial number assigned by the manufacturer. The last four characters indicate the month and year of production and model year of the vessel.
When purchasing a boat, a hull tracing should be done. A hull tracing is obtained by placing a piece of paper over the hull number and scratching a lead pencil over it until the number pops up. A photograph is of equal value. When having a boat surveyed, it is advisable to request a hull tracing or photo to be sure the hull number matches all the prior paperwork. Once an incorrect hull number is submitted to the Coast Guard or state for registrations purposes, the individual or agent handling the correction must go back to the manufacturer to get an official statement stating the correction along with a hull tracing or photo to submit to whatever agency will produce ownership documents.
It is wise for a boat buyer to engage a professional documentation agency like Specialized Yacht Services, Inc. when purchasing a yacht. Their experienced staff is aware of the importance of getting these vital statistics correct before any errors are made and if there are any discrepancies, have the knowledge to get them rectified in the most expeditious professional manner. Feel free to call or email us with any questions. We are here to make your next boat purchase a pleasant one!
The article was prepared by:
Gerri Miccio, Agent
Specialized Yacht Services, Inc.
954-563-6380 Fax: 954-563-6393