Boat Specs by HIN

Are you thinking about investing in a used boat? If yes, you must do the due diligence and thorough research before taking the big step. or maybe you want to know technical specifications of your own boat but lost the original owner manual?

In this article, we look at some of the most important boat specs and understand how to look up boat specs by HIN. As boat data experts, we are the authority on decoding Hull Id Numbers for years and can answer all your queries so you can make well-informed investment decisions.

What is a HIN?

The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a 12-digital series of numbers and letters that identifies important aspects of the vessel, such as the manufacturer, the country where it was made, the serial number, and the date of manufacture. In general, the HIN is permanently affixed to the boat’s hull.

Besides being located in an exposed part of the boat, a HIN is also marked in a second location on the hull, either under a fixture or hardware item or on the unexposed interior of the vessel.

Components of a HIN

In the USA, federal regulations prescribe the standard format of the 12-character HIN.

  •         The first 3 characters comprise the Manufacturing Identification Code(MIC) and should only be letters.
  •         The next 5 characters contain the unique serial number given by the manufacturer and is unique for every boat. This number can be a series of numbers and/or letters, except for the alphabets Q, O, and I since they are easily misinterpreted.
  •         The last 4 characters determine the model year designation or the certification month and year of the boat. Before 1st August 1984, the manufacturer could express this in a model year designation format.

How to Look Up Boat Specifications Using HIN?

The HIN provides unique information about your boat’s specifications, including its make, model year, and date of manufacture. Using this information, you can find important details about the model, the age of the vessel, and the engine, amongst others.

Kinds of boat Specifications 

Knowing a vessel’s manufacturer, MIC, and serial number through a HIN can help you perform an advanced search regarding boat details. You can use websites such as or to find out more information about specifications, such as the make, model, length, engines…etc.

Top Features to Consider when Buying a Used Boat

Finding the right boat begins with exploring its specifications. Listed below are some of the main features you should take into account when buying a used boat and checking is value.

  • Hull Material / Hull Type
  • Length of the boat
  • Model of the boat
  • Engine(s) / propulsion
  • Weight and cabins
  • Maximum speed limit
  • Fuel tank capacity
  • Navigation system
  • Battery system 
  • Anchor system
  • Steering system
  • Seating capacity
  • Safety equipment
  • Cruising Range
  • livewell
  • Tech features
  • Warranty and MSRP

Title and Registration

All vessels are required to be registered. Small boats are registered with the state, while large boats are documented on a federal level. In some states, it is also mandatory for vessels to carry a title of ownership.

If you are buying a used boat from a private party, see the registration details and the title with their name and complete address. Make sure the registration numbers match the model, make, and HIN.

Length of the Boat

The length is one of the most important boat specifications that significantly influence its price. Some boat manufacturers include the bow pulpit length in their specifications, while others use the length on deck specification to decide the boat length.


The engine is perhaps a vessel’s most expensive part, so pay close attention to it. Look for any signs of corrosion under the engine cover, and request the owner to run it full throttle for a minimum of 10 seconds. Next, check the hoses and belts for deterioration. Rub the engine oil between your fingers to check for moisture, grit, or metal dust.

Decoding a boat HIN to find boat specs | Boat specifications database

Example HIN – ABC-12345-B618

  •         ABC – Manufacturer Identification Code or MIC
  •         12345 – Unique serial number provided by the manufacturer
  •         B6 – Manufacturing date where the first character alphabet represents the month, while the second digit represents the last digit of the year.
  •         18 – Last two digits of the model year. i.e. 2018. 

The MIC will allow you to find out the boat’s manufacturer, and you can use that information to further find out the boat’s particulars, such as engine details, horsepower, etc. Similarly, knowing the manufacturing year can help determine the vessel’s age. It is critical to know the boat’s age when investing in one;

older boats are generally more susceptible to breakdowns and damage, while newer versions feature more advanced technology and don’t have to be frequently maintained.

If you are still confused about decoding the HIN, use for hassle-free decoding.

Limitations to a boat HIN in terms of specifications it contains

Even though a hull number provides valuable information about a boat and some of its specifications, it doesn’t contain all the specifications as opposed to VINs for vehicles.

When do you need a HIN? | Who Needs a HIN?

You will be required to provide the HIN in the following situations:

  •         When you are buying a new vessel and want to complete the initial registration
  •         When you are registering second-hand vessels for the first time
  •         During the transfer of registration: This is when the boat doesn’t already have registration attached to it. For instance, when a commercial boat gets sold for recreational use.

How to Get a HIN on a boat?

In the United States, all vessels manufactured after 192 are required to have a hull number. This includes homemade vessels not intended for sale and imported vessels. Most of the time, the manufacturer attaches the HIN to the boat.

If your boat doesn’t have a HIN, contact your state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for a HIN application. Before you can apply, you will need to know the Manufacturer’s Identification Code.

Federal statutes explain that all boat manufacturers must get a MIC in written form from the Recreational Boating Product Assurance Branch in Washington, DC. Next, visit the USCG Manufacturer’s Identification page to locate the MIC of the boat. This page lets you access information about the boat’s manufacturer, including the company name, address, and operational status. 

Where to Find and Display HIN?

Legally, all boat manufacturers are required to display the HIN on fixed parts of the boat.

HIN Display Instructions  

The primary HIN must be attached as follows:

  •         Boats with transoms on the starboard side of the transom within 2 inches of the transom’s top, deck/hull  joint, or gunwale, whichever is the lowest.
  •         On boats, where it’s difficult to use the transom or on boats without transoms, to the starboard outboard side of the hull, one foot within the stern and 2 inches of the hull side’s top, hull/deck, or gunwale, whichever is lowest.
  •         On pontoon boats and catamarans, which feature readily replaceable hulls, the aft crossbeam is within one foot of the starboard hull attachment.
  •         On boats where the HIN will not be completely visible due to fittings, rails, or other accessories, the number must be attached at the rear of the boat in an exposed location.

Federal guidelines indicate that the manufacturer can carve, stamp, burn, mold, bond, or emboss the HIN to the hull, provided it’s a permanent fixture. The HIN may also be affixed inside the engine or marked somewhere behind a removable fixture. Upon careful inspection, you should be able to find the hull number inside and outside the vessel.

Get Boat Specifications by HIN from a dealer or manufacturer

If you haven’t had much success using the HIN to find out the boat specifications, don’t worry. You can always get in touch with the manufacturer by phone or email to see if they can provide you with those details. They will dig through the records and might even be able to give you information about the warranty. Alternately, check if a boat surveyor or the old owner of the boat are able to find out the boat particulars for you.

Boat History Reporting

Another quick and easy way to find boat specifications is by purchasing a report from The report may contain boat particulars derived from over 90 boat specifications databases and other critical information such as accident checks, boat recalls, complete HIN verification, previous boat names, etc. These boat specs provided by the manufacturer could then be provided to the state titling agency.

Pros and Cons of Looking Up Boat Specs by HIN

Pros / advantagesCons
A HIN allows you to find out more information about the manufacturer, the model, and the age of the vessel.Doesn’t provide all the valuable information about boat specifications
You can use both free and paid HIN lookup tools to access information about boat specifications.May require payment if you wish to access more boat specs
Searching boat specs by HIN online is quick and easy on Hindecoder and boat-alert. HIN number standard does not contain much info in the format. Will have to spend money to get more details.


This article discussed the importance of knowing boat specifications before investing in a vessel or when an insurance company requests those details. We also shed light on how a boat HIN lookup can help buyers find more information about the boat particulars of the vessel they are interested in. You can use to decode the boat’s HIN and simultaneously benefit from some specifications for free.

#BoatSpecifications #HIN #BoatSpecsDatabase #Boat #Specs

Infographic: Boat specifications lookup by HIN
Infographic: Boat specifications lookup by HIN

Categories: To learn more about History Reports for used boats and hull number visit:

Boat Alert History Reports© exists to aggregate boat databases so that shoppers can search and buy a used boat safely while saving time and money researching a used boat's history. We began in 2015 and constantly adding more how to check a boat's history data for USA and Canada to ensure that your boat has a clean history. We are happy to offer a 60-day money back guarantee and proud to have served more than 15,000 customers with their boat HIN Search History needs. hin number check ©. Two percent of all proceeds go to charity. We value fair treatment of employees, customer satisfaction, having the most databases possible, and fast customer service at the core of our brand. View our LinkTree.