Check Your HIN

hin-locationA HIN (Hull Identification Number) is like a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on cars. It contains an optional Country code, the Manufacturer’s Identification Code (MIC), the manufacturer’s serial number and a date code. It consists of 12 characters. If the country code is included, the HIN is 15 characters long.

The HIN is located on the top right hand corner of the transom. It is against the law to alter a HIN. If you come across a HIN that is damaged or scarred or the letters and numbers are not all consistently clean and with the exact same format, then you should be suspicious that someone has altered or attempted to alter the HIN. I recommend....

you notify your local police.

Now is a good time to check your HIN and make sure it is written correctly on all your documentation—license, insurance, sales contract etc. Over the years, we have seen so many HIN’s that have had the wrong number of digits, letters instead of numbers (i.e. B instead of 8),  a capital “I” has been interpreted as a digit “1”, zeros mistaken for O’s, etc.

A way to make it easier to read your HIN that I learned from Jim Rockford on Rockford Files years ago, is to dampen your thumb with some saliva and rub it over the recessed digits of the HIN. The dirt on the transom will settle in the recesses making the number stand out a lot more clearly—easier to read.

It is so important for you to have the correct HIN, because this is the identifier of your boat. If your boat is ever stolen, and you supply the wrong number to the police, they will never be able to match it up.

For more information on the HIN and different formats over the years, see "Decoding The HIN" report. It is available separately or free with an order of "Buy a Boat With Confidence".

Doug Dawson



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For trailered boats, make sure the drain plug is on your checklist!  It wasn't on mine and I mistakenly expected that the shop who summerized and delivered my boat had installed it.  They didn't, and I didn't check for it, and didn't realize it wasn't there 'till I got back to my backyard dock and saw the water coming up thru the ski well.  I'm now known as "soggy-boy" after falling off the boat into the lake while trying to install the plug from above; would have been a lot easier on the launch ramp!  Fortunately, nothing was damaged but my pride . . . Cheers

Dave Keyser, Soggy-boy

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