All About State Issued Hull Identification Numbers

Example of a state issued HIN having the MIC "wnz"
example of a state issued HIN having the MIC “wnz”

What is a State Assigned HIN?

The general rule is that the maker of the boat (manufacturer/builder) must affix a standard HIN to the hull of the boat. You can imagine that there would be exceptions. Consider cases such as an imported boat from another country. Or a boat you build in your back yard. In such cases, the State and or USCG will work together to provide you with a HIN.

In this article we will discuss the different cases where the State might issue a HIN for your Boat. Occasionally the USCG has allowed a 12 character HIN with an incorrect format as long as the manufacturer and year of the vessel can be identified.

A State issued HIN will always start with the three letters xxZ, where xx are your State’s code. Eg. FLZ, or TXZ.

What is a homemade boat?

Any boat made with raw materials by a person or persons for personal use and not made for the purpose of building multiple boats for sale. (Not more than 1 vessel per year)
Some manufacturers are in the practice of selling noncompliant recreational boats to persons and calling them “homemade” by giving the new owner a materials list. Be aware of these practices.

These boats will NOT have Certification Labels nor will they have USCG Maximum Capacities established!


Home Made vessel - state issued HIN
Home Made vessel – State issued HIN procedure

Homemade/Backyard Built Boat: A homemade/backyard built boat is a single boat made with raw materials by a person or persons for personal use and not built for sale. This boat requires a state issued HIN in the New Current Format.

Is a Kit Boat considered ‘homemade’?

Kit Boat is a is a boat in which the buyer purchases plans to build the boat and the materials to complete the boat are supplied by the manufacturer/seller. This boat requires a HIN provided by the manufacturer/seller.

Imported Boats and their HIN

A single boat imported by an individual for their own personal use receives a HIN from the State in which the boat is principally operated. This boat requires a state issued HIN in the New (Current) Format. On the other hand, if you are an importer of boats for sale in the USA (not single boat for personal use), then the boat will receive a HIN with your MIC (the importer company must have a manufacturer code with the USCG).

Are There other cases for State Issued HINs

When the State encounters HINs on boats within 10 years old from the date of manufacture, that contain any number of characters other than 12 and the manufacturer is out of business, the State should verify if the USCG authorization has been given and then the State should issue a State HIN using the New (Current) Format.

Another case is when you have a boat with a manufacturer HIN that was not correct. For example, the manufacturer did not follow the standard format for the HIN or the year is invalid…etc. Follow the chart below to know what your State will do for your boat

State Issued HIN when you have a boat with an invalid HIN

How do I know if my HIN is invalid?

You can check your HIN against the standard format or even use to validate it.

What if my boat is pre-1972? – My HIN did not have a format to follow back then.

If your vessel was made before 1972 when the standard HIN format was put in place, then your state will probably issue a new HIN according to the guideline below.

pre-1972 Hull ID Number
Boats before 1972 get issued a state hin

Is it Risky to buy a boat that has a State Assigned HIN?

Many states have a provision that is worth noting. When you check the titling law, you see that it allows the HIN to be reassigned and for a new registration number to be issued. Such boats would fall under the homemade-boat-provision and can lead to mischief. Be careful because a regular person can obtain a boat hull and completely rebuild it with new deck, interior and engine, etc. then apply for a new title under the homemade-boat-provision and be assigned an entirely new hull number and title by the State. Boat thieves can do the same thing with their stolen boats.

Additionally, you should note that some shady manufacturers are selling non-compliant recreational boats as a false homemade boat by giving the new owner a materials list. Be careful because these boats will NOT have Certification Labels and will not have USCG Maximum Capacities established making them unsafe.

Verify that the owner is using the vessel for personal use and not acting as an importer. A state assigned HIN will have the year and month of the HIN issue date and not the year of manufacture. So this can get confusing when running reports.


What are State Assigned HIN Numbers? from
Infographic: All about State Issued hull ID numbers
Infographic: All about State Issued hull ID numbers


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