Q:

How are boat VINs interpreted?

A:

Quick Answer

Boat VINs are interpreted by splitting the number into character groups. The first group indicates the manufacturer, the second group is the serial number and the last group is the date of manufacture and model year.

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Full Answer

Boat VINs are known as hull identification numbers, or HINs. The number is 12 characters long and the format is specified by federal regulation. The first three characters are letters indicating the manufacturer. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains a list of boat manufacturers and their three letter identifiers.

The next five characters are a serial number assigned by the boat’s manufacturer. The serial number can be numerals, letters or a combination. The letters I, O and Q are not allowed.

The next two characters represent the month and year of either the date of certification or manufacture. The month is represented by a letter, starting with A for January through L for December. The year is indicated using the last digit. The final two characters are the last two digits of the model year.

All boats manufactured or imported after August 1984 must have the hull identification number located in two places. The first is on the aft, starboard side of the boat above the waterline. The second is a location on the boat where it is accessible, but not noticeable.

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