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All vessels manufactured in the United States after November 1, 1972 are required to have a twelve (12) character hull identification number which must be formatted according to the charts shown below. Format depends on the Year.

Types of Hull ID Numbers - Based on Dates:

Assuming that you have the correct manufacturer code (first three (3) letters), the rest of the HIN is structured accoding to a standard format.
Choose the year of your boat to see the format of the HIN you need to follow.

From Year 1984 to Present

New Format

Mandatory  -  August 1, 1984

Manufacturers
 Identification Code
Production
or Serial Number
*Month
of Production (position 9)
Year
of Production
Model
Year
ABC 12345 A 7 88
    * A - January          D - April          G - July            J - October
      B - February         E - May            H - August          K - November
      C - March            F - June           I - September       L - December     
 
The most common mistake we see here is confusing the letter i (eye) with the number one (1) at the ninth position in the HIN. Or 8 and B at the last character...

From Year 1972 to 1984

Straight Year Format

November 1, 1972

Manufacturers
Identification Code
Production
or Serial Number
Month
of Production
Year
of Production
ABC 12345 12 75

 

Model Year Format

Optional - November 1, 1972

Manufacturers
 Identification Code
Production
or Serial Number
'M' Indicates Model
Year Format
Model
Year
*Production
Month
ABC 12345 M 75 A
    * A - August          D - November          G - February         J - May
      B - September       E - December          H - March            K - June
      C - October         F - January           I - April            L - July  

There was no standard format before November 1, 1972. Boat-Alert.com does not search older boats.

Sometimes, the HIN is prefixed by the country code. For Example "US-" for the United states, "CN-" for Canada, and "FR-" for France. This can lead to a HIN that is 14 or 15 digits long. You can skip the country code when searching for a Boat-Alert HIN Search Report. On the other hand, if you have a 17 digits long HIN then it might be that you are looking at a Trailer VIN number.

If the HIN you have is shorter than 12 digits and does not match the above charts, consider that it might be a State Registration Number that you are looking at or the official number from the USCG. Look for the HIN on your title and on the transom.