How Should You Use Free HIN Reports to Decide Which Boat to Purchase?

Potential boat owners can use HIN numbers, also known as Hull Identification Numbers, to pull a boat history report which identifies any malfunctions or accidents and common complaints against the boat model. The HIN is also used for boat registration and helps identify compatible replacement parts.

Most dealers pull a boat history report based on the HIN so shoppers can make a more informed decision about whether or not to purchase a particular boat or model. All boats manufactured after Nov. 1, 1972 must display a HIN. A Hull Identification Number is a federal requirement and serves as the boat's registration number in most states. A HIN is comparable to a vehicle identification number on cars and trucks.

The HIN is a serial number that identifies the boat. The first three characters of the HIN identify the manufacturer's identification code as stipulated by the Coast Guard. The remaining five characters are usually assigned by the manufacturer, and the last four characters indicate the month and year the model was built.

The HIN is typically located on the transom of the boat on a plastic or metal plate. Boats without a transom usually have HIN displayed on the aft crossbeam or on the starboard.