How to decode a boat hull identification number (HIN)

Posted on February 18, 2019 | Updated on January 25, 2024

What is a boat hull identification number (HIN)?

The Hull Identification Number (HIN), also known as the boat serial number, is a unique 12-digit number that must be affixed to the hull of pleasure craft that are constructed, manufactured, rebuilt, or imported to be sold or operated in Canada. The HIN may also include a 2-digit country code at the beginning of the boat serial number.



The HIN can assist in finding stolen boats or identifying recalled boats.

Where can I find the HIN on my boat?

The HIN must be located where it is visible when the boat is in the water. You will find the HIN on the outside starboard (right) side of the transom. If your boat does not have a transom, the HIN will be on the uppermost starboard side at the aft end of the hull.

Other requirements:

  • The characters must be at least 6mm in width and height
  • The HIN cannot be altered, defaced, or removed

You might also find a second HIN in the interior of the boat or under a trim or other piece of hardware.

How to decode a boat hull identification number (HIN)

Example HIN – ABC12345B612

ABC – Manufacturer Identification Code (MIC) – You can find a list of manufacturer codes on the US Coast Guard website. TIP: The manufacturer may not match your boat manufacturer. For example, the HIN for a Bayliner boat may start with BLB. If you search BLB, the result will be Brunswick Family Boat Co Inc. Don’t panic because Bayliner is one of their brands. You might have to do a little more research.

12345 – Manufacturer’s Serial Number

B6 – Manufacture date where the first digit represents the month and the second digit represents the last digit of the year.

A=Jan, B=Feb, C=Mar, D=Apr, E=May, F=Jun, G=Jul, H=Aug, I-Sep, J=Oct, K=Nov, L=Dec

12 – The last 2 digits of the model year

How can I get a boat history report like CarFax for vehicles?

You can get a boat history report from HINDecoder. The report includes accident checks, boat recalls, a HIN Decoder, and more. This is a US website but it does contain some Canadian information.

By clicking on the third-party affiliate link (Boat Alert/HIN Decoder), you will be redirected away from our website. Please be aware that we may receive a commission for any purchases made through this affiliate link. Your use of the third-party site is subject to its terms of service and privacy policy. We encourage you to review these policies before proceeding.

HIN Decoder/Boat VIN Decoder

How do I know if a boat has been reported stolen?

The Canadian Police Information Centre is where the public can search for property or motor vehicles that have been reported stolen. This includes boats and boat motors. Search boats by name, Hull Identification Number, Licence Number, and Registration Number to find out if a boat is stolen.

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