A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a distinctive number assigned to any motor or off-road vehicle. A VIN is equivalent to 17 characters on cars dating 1981 or newer. Any older than that, and you’ll find them ranging between 11 to 17 characters.
A VIN is equivalent to a HIN or a serial number. A Hull Identification Number or HIN is a number unique to boats and ships, whereas a serial number is unique to snowmobiles.
What Exactly is a HIN Number?
The Hull Identification Number is a number unique to every boat. It numbers between 12-14 digits.
You will find the HIN on any boat imported or manufactured after the 1st of November, 1971.
Importance of HIN
A HIN is primarily to distinguish between two vehicles. All HINs assigned are unique, i.e., and thus play a vital role in identifying any vessel.
The authorities use HIN as an essential part of their strategy to recover lost or stolen boats and ships. HINs help them to identify vessels.
One precaution essential for you and most, if not all, boat users is to keep a secondary copy of the HIN.
Furthermore, you should keep this copy in a place secondary to the vessel itself. You will find the HIN beneficial in case your boat gets stolen or a problem with its warranty arises.
Having a HIN is a federal requirement. Of course, vehicles older than 1971 can maneuver around those requirements in certain conditions that we will discuss later.
If you want to register a boat, you must have a HIN number if the vessel is of a period after 1972.
The registration number of your boat classifies as a state requirement (just like the license plate on a car). In comparison, the HIN is imperative for the registration certificate of the state.
HIN Formats Before and After August 1984
Formats Before August 1984
Before August 1984, it was essential for a boat manufacturer to place two identical HIN numbers. We’ll discuss where you can find the HIN numbers later on.
The manufacturer placed the HIN permanently, and it could not be altered or tampered. Any efforts of doing so would make it quite visible.
Formats After August 1984
After August 1984, boat manufacturers had to place two HINs. A primary HIN and a secondary one. You will usually find the secondary HIN in an obscure place. This can be the interior of the ship or under a fitting or piece of hardware.
Such a setup’s primary purpose was to enable the proper authorities to find a boat with a HIN decoder just in case thieves vandalized and removed the primary HIN from a stolen boat.
Where are HINs Located?
A HIN is usually permanently on a metal plate or fiberglass, which you’ll usually find attached near or on the upper right side of the transom.
However, there are different places where a HIN can be placed. These places vary from boat to boat. Let’s have a look at some of them.
- Transoms: On boats with transoms, the HIN is engraved or attached on the upper right side in the space of two inches of the top of the flatback (transom).
- No transoms: On boats that have a transom deemed unsuitable for a HIN or on ships that do not have a transom, the HIN is placed on to the right outboard side of the hull, in the space of two inches from its top.
- Catamarans: Pontoons or catamarans have readily replaceable hulls. This makes it unsuitable for placing the HIN on its hull; thus, in catamarans or pontoons, the HIN is inscribed on the aft crossbeam, inside one foot of the starboard hull attachment.
- Any Other Location: The HIN should be within clear sight. Railings or any other accessories should not block its view.
Where is the VIN on a Jon Boat?
As stated, a VIN is essentially a HIN. They are the same thing but refer to different motors.
You can locate the Hull Identification Number on a Jon Boat by looking on the upper right side in the space of two inches of the top of the flatback.
The HIN number is mostly similar to:
ABC 67689 B6 06
- ABC This is the Manufacturer’s Identification Code. The state assigns this code to the boat manufacturer. If you want to look up your boat hull’s ID, every state keeps a database of searchable MICs.
- 67689: This is the Hull serial Number. The manufacturer assigns it to the boat.
- B6: This is the date of manufacture of the vessel.
- 06: This is the model year of the boat.
If you have a HIN on your Jon boat, it will make things convenient for you in case you want to register your boat.
If not, things will get a little more tricky. In some cases, the cost of titling and registering a Jon boat may far exceed what the Jon boat itself costs.
How to Get Yourself a Hull ID Assigned?
If you happen to have a boat whose HIN does not match the format of the Coast Guard, you will have to be assigned a newer ID by the department.
For instance, any vessel before 1971 can keep its non-standard HIN for the state of Wisconsin, only if the HIN is unique in Wisconsin’s registration system.
Such laws and relaxation for boats before 1971 may vary from state to state.
Along with your HIN, you will also get a set of instructions. These instructions state how and where to permanently fix the HIN in the rightful place recommended by the state.
The standard length of the HINs provided by the department stays 12 characters.
Having a HIN number or VIN number is definitely a priority. If you find yourself buying any vessel, you must make sure to check whether it already has a HIN or not.
This goes especially more so for a Jon boat. Since the cost of titling and registering a Jon boat may far exceed what the Jon boat itself costs, you might find yourself at a loss.
Thus, it is essential to know the importance of HIN and how to accurately find it.
Not only that, but it is also vital to know the laws of your state regarding vessels that have no titles. If you plan to go through with your decision, do not just take the seller’s word for it!