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Hull Identification Number (HIN)

What is a Hull Identification Number (HIN)?

Hull Identification Tag

The Hull Identification Number (Hull ID or HIN) is a serial number assigned by the manufacturer that uniquely identifies a boat, similar to the VIN on an automobile. Hull ID numbers distinguish one vessel from another and help prevent theft. Vessels build on or after November 1, 1972 should have a unique 12-character HIN and should meet one of the approved US Coast Guard formats. Vessels built before November 1, 1972 may have a non-standardized Hull ID format.

The HIN is found on a metal or plastic plate, typically on the transom of the boat, usually on the right starboard (right) side of the transom within two inches of the top of transom, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On vessels without transoms or impractical to use transoms, the HIN is usually affixed to the starboard (right) outboard side of hull, aft, within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of the hull side, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On catamarans and pontoon boats with replaceable hulls, the HIN is usually affixed to the aft crossbeam, within one foot of the starboard (right) hull attachment.

Hull ID assignment

All vessels built on or after November 1, 1972 must bear a Hull ID that meets one of the approved Coast Guard formats. If the vessel does not have a Hull ID that meets an approved Coast Guard format, the owner must be assigned a new Hull ID number by the Department. An owner assigned a new Hull ID must permanently affix the new Hull ID number to the vessel. Vessels built before November 1, 1972 may keep the non-standard Hull ID only if it is unique to the Wisconsin registration system. If the Hull ID is not unique, the owner must be assigned a new Hull ID number. An owner assigned a new Hull ID will be notified by the Department and will be provided instructions on how to permanently affix the new Hull ID to the vessel in accordance with law. The State assigned Hull ID is 12 characters beginning with WSZ.

How to permanently affix State assigned Hull Identification Number (HIN) to my boat?

State and Federal regulations require you to permanently affix this number to the outside transom area (starboard) above the waterline in characters no less than one-quarter inch (1/4”) in size. This may be affixed by burning, stamping, embossing or other permanent method in such a way that alteration, removal or replacement would be obvious and evident. Do not alter existing Hull ID numbers; newly assigned numbers by the Department should be attached above existing Hull ID number.

Last revised: Tuesday July 02 2019