New Guide for HIN numbers for States

Understanding USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02

USCG Announces “Compliance Guide for Hull Identification Numbers (HIN)” [BSX-23 Policy #23-02]

In August 2023, the USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02 was released . This vital policy letter issued by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) holds significant importance in ensuring compliance with maritime safety regulations.

This policy provides crucial guidance for hull identification numbers (HINs) on recreational vessels by clarifying important questions and special cases that State Boat Registration Agencies had.

By understanding and following this policy, stakeholders in the marine industry in the USA can ensure compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, promoting the safety of all marine operations.

Purpose of USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02

The USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02 supersedes previous policies and serves as a comprehensive framework that encompasses the purpose, directives affected, required actions, and background information related to recreational vessel HINs.

It illuminates the specific requirements and regulations that state issuing authorities, recreational vessel manufacturers, and law enforcement officers need to be aware of.

With its focus on HIN compliance, USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02 plays a crucial role in enhancing safety measures for recreational vessels.

Key Takeaways:

  • Offers compliance guidance for hull identification numbers (HINs) on recreational vessels.
  • Explains special cases like bare hulls and paddleboards
  • The policy supersedes previous guidelines.
  • Stakeholders in the maritime industry should familiarize themselves with the policy’s requirements to ensure proper compliance.

Overview of the Coast Guard’s Role in Maritime Safety

The Coast Guard’s primary responsibility is to ensure maritime safety and security within U.S. waters. This encompasses a wide range of activities, including search and rescue operations, enforcement of laws and regulations, vessel inspections, and pollution prevention.

By monitoring and regulating maritime activities, the Coast Guard strives to minimize risks and prevent maritime accidents. Through its policy frameworks, the Coast Guard sets the standards and requirements that stakeholders must adhere to in order to maintain a safe and secure maritime environment.

Breaking Down USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02

In this section, we will provide a detailed breakdown of the USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02, offering valuable insights into its compliance guidance and HIN requirements for recreational vessels.

The policy focuses on hull identification numbers (HINs) and aims to ensure that stakeholders, including state issuing authorities, recreational vessel manufacturers, and law enforcement officers, understand and adhere to the regulations related to HINs.

The USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02 covers various aspects, including:

  • Which vessels require HINs
  • Display and proper affixing of HINs
  • Verification of HINs by State Agencies
  • The accepted format of HINs
  • State assigned HINs
  • Selling vs. Gifting Homemade vessels
  • Which vessels don’t require HINs: Bare Hulls, Sailboards, stand up paddleboards (SUP), and kiteboards
  • Vessels with two HINs and Imported Vessels
  • Hull Swaps vs. new HIN

Compliance with the USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02 is essential to uphold safety standards and meet statutory and regulatory obligations. Understanding the compliance guidance provided and the specific HIN requirements outlined in this policy is crucial for all stakeholders involved in the recreational vessel industry.

What HIN should be on an imported vessel?

  1. Recreational Vessels Imported into the USA: If a recreational vessel is imported into the US by a US-based importer or a subsidiary of a foreign manufacturer with the intention of reselling it, the importer must have a Manufacturer’s Identification Code (MIC) issued by the US Coast Guard (USCG). The importer is responsible for handling any recalls on these vessels and ensuring that a valid Hull Identification Number (HIN) is properly attached to each vessel.
  2. Self-Imported Recreational Vessels: If an individual imports a single recreational vessel for their personal use, they need to obtain a state-assigned HIN from the state where the vessel will mainly be used. It’s crucial to confirm that the individual is using the vessel for personal use and not for commercial purposes. The purpose of this regulation is to allow individuals to buy a vessel from overseas and bring it to the US for their own enjoyment. If the foreign manufacturer does not intend to sell or offer the vessel for sale in the US, or import it into the US for commercial purposes, they are not subject to US regulations. To qualify as self-imported, the owner must personally receive the vessel from the manufacturer overseas and arrange for its transportation to the US. Documentation from US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) or a shipping agent can help confirm self-importation. If a foreign builder sells vessels online for delivery in the US, they must use a US importer with a MIC issued by the USCG.

When are state assigned HINs issued?

  1. When to Issue a State Assigned HIN (Hull Identification Number):
    • Scenario A: When there is no HIN present on the vessel, the state should assign one in these situations:
      • For homemade boats.
      • For commercial boats (check paragraph 15a for details).
      • For boats imported by individuals for personal use (follow the format in paragraph 13).
      • For recreational boats without a HIN made more than ten years ago.
      • For recreational boats without a HIN made within the last ten years but still missing one, and if the original manufacturer is still in business, contact the US Coast Guard for guidance at
  2. Dealing with Improperly Formatted HINs:
    • Scenario B: If the existing HIN is not in the correct format:
      • For recreational boats with incorrect HINs made within the last ten years:
        • Contact the US Coast Guard to fix it if the manufacturer is still operating.
        • If the manufacturer is out of business, assign a state HIN.
      • For recreational boats with incorrect HINs made over ten years ago:
        • Assign a state HIN to be put near the old one.
        • Keep a record of the inconsistency and advise the owner to keep a copy for their records and have one on the boat when sailing.

In simpler terms, if a boat doesn’t have a proper ID number or has one that’s not formatted correctly, the state needs to step in and either assign a new number or help correct the existing one based on when the boat was made and whether the original manufacturer is still around. This helps keep track of boats and ensures they meet safety standards.

For Vessels Built by Two Different Builders the HIN that is placed on the vessel should include the MIC of the manufacturer that will be responsible for any recalls should be placed on the vessel.

Does a bare hull need a HIN?

A bare hull is an empty, unfinished hull with no installed seating, controls, consoles, flotation, navigation lights, or other associated equipment. Therefore, bare hulls are not subject to USCG safety standards and are not required to have HINs. Bare hulls acquired for the purpose of building a homebuilt vessel should be issued a state assigned HIN as a homebuilt vessel.

What HIN should be on a kit boat?

A kit boat is a partially built vessel sold by one entity with assembly completed by another entity, is considered a manufactured vessel, and must have a HIN provided by the manufacturer of the kit. States are prohibited from assigning state assigned HINs to Kit Boats. For more information on Kit Boats, view the 87th Boating Safety Circular published in December 2013 at:

Can you sell a homebuilt vessel?

Yes, you can sell homemade boats under certain conditions. Federal regulations generally aim to prevent the sale of homemade recreational vessels that might not meet safety standards. However, the US Coast Guard (USCG) recognizes that there are situations where selling homemade boats might be acceptable. To sell a homemade recreational vessel, it must:

  1. Meet the requirements outlined in 33 CFR Subchapter S, which are safety standards for recreational vessels.
  2. Have undergone inspection by an independent marine surveyor who holds a nationally accredited certification from organizations like the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). A report from this surveyor should be provided to the state when selling the vessel.
  3. Not be sold within 10 years of the state assigning a Hull Identification Number (HIN) to the boat.

Have more questions? email


Understanding this USCG policy is important mainly for State agencies and boat manufacturers because it addresses many nuances and situations that needed clarification beyond the regulations found in 33 CFR 181 Subpart C.

This policy DOES NOT change any current requirements for manufacturer assigned HINs. Inteasd this policy addressed

  • What are the current and past formats for manufacturer assigned HINs?
  • What is the format for a state assigned HIN?
  • When are state assigned HINs issued?
  • Does a bare hull need a HIN?


What is USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02?

USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02 is a policy letter issued by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) that provides new guidance for hull identification numbers (HINs) on recreational vessels for states to issue hins and validate them.

What are the key takeaways from USCG BSX-23-Policy-23-02?

The key takeaways from the article are that states should issue HINs in specific circumstances only.

Source Links

Categories: To learn more about History Reports for used boats and boat hull id number search 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 boat title search 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. hull numbers ©. 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.