All You Need to Know About the Boat Hull Identification Number

All You Need to Know About the Boat Hull Identification Number


All boats have unique identification numbers that provide important information about their construction, history, and compliance with regulations. Known as the Hull Identification Number (HIN), this alphanumeric code serves as a boat's "fingerprint." In this article, we will delve into the significance of the HIN, its structure, and its role in ensuring safety, tracking ownership, and preventing theft.

What is a Hull Identification Number (HIN)?

Similar to a vehicle identification number (VIN) for cars, a Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a unique identifier assigned to boats. This number provides crucial information about the boat's manufacturer, country of origin, model year, and serial number.

All boats with or without a motor that are imported into or built in Canada are required to have a Hull Identification Number (HIN).

Where to Find the Hull Identification Number?

The HIN is permanently affixed to the boat's hull, typically on the outside starboard (right) side near the transom. If the boat does not have a transom, the HIN must be displayed on the right side at the rear of the hull.

The HIN typically consists of 12 characters which are unique to the vessel. It is assigned to the boat by the manufacturer.



CA- ABC12345B617 or US-ABC12345B617

CAABC12345B617 or USABC12345B617



HIN Structure

The HIN follows a standardized structure determined by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Although specific regulations may vary slightly between countries, the general format consists of 12 to 17 characters, with the following components:

Manufacturer Identification Code (MIC)

The first three characters of the HIN represent the Manufacturer Identification Code (MIC). This code uniquely identifies the boat manufacturer or builder. It is assigned by an authorized agency and allows for easy traceability of the boat's origin.

Manufacturer's Serial Number

Following the MIC, the next five to twelve characters denote the manufacturer's serial number. This portion is assigned by the boat manufacturer and serves as a unique identifier for each boat they produce. The length of this section may vary depending on the manufacturer's production volume.

Date of Certification

In some cases, the HIN may include a two-digit code indicating the month and year of certification. This provides information about the boat's compliance with safety standards during its production.

Importance and Application of the Hull Identification Number

Ownership Verification and History

The HIN plays a crucial role in verifying boat ownership and history. By cross-referencing the HIN with registration records and databases, authorities can trace the boat's previous owners, detect stolen vessels, and prevent illegal activities such as smuggling.

Safety and Compliance

The HIN assists in monitoring boat safety and compliance with regulations. It enables manufacturers and regulatory bodies, such as Transport Canada, to issue recalls or safety notices when necessary, ensuring that boat owners are aware of potential issues or defects that could affect their vessel's performance or safety.

Identification in Accidents or Emergencies

In the unfortunate event of an accident or emergency, the HIN helps authorities identify the boat involved, facilitating search and rescue operations, insurance claims, and accident investigations.

Anti-Theft Measures

The HIN acts as a deterrent against boat theft. It allows law enforcement agencies to identify stolen boats and return them to their rightful owners. Prospective buyers can also verify a boat's legitimacy and history by checking the HIN before making a purchase.


The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is an essential component of boat identification, serving as a unique identifier that provides valuable information about a vessel's manufacturer, origin, and history. With its standardized structure and widespread use, the HIN plays a crucial role in ensuring safety, tracking ownership, and preventing theft in the boating industry. Boat owners, manufacturers, and regulatory authorities should recognize the significance of the HIN and utilize it effectively to enhance safety, maintain compliance, and safeguard the boating community.

It is important to provide us with your boat’s Hull Identification Number when completing an application for your Canadian boat licence renewal. Please Contact Us today for all Transport Canada pleasure craft licence and Canadian boat registration needs.

Previous post