Can Searching a Boat History by Hull Number Tell the Year of the Boat?

boat history by hull number

It is possible to know the boat’s history by hull number. The hull identification number is a serial number that identifies a boat. It is analogous to a VIN on a car. But can this number tell you the age of the boat? Let’s find out here. 

Searching Boat History by Hull Number 

As mentioned, a hull identification number is a unique alphanumeric code assigned to each boat manufactured or imported into Canada. It is similar to the VIN for automobiles. The HIN serves as a form of identification for boats. It facilitates tracking, registration, and compliance with safety regulations. 

What Comprises HIN? 

It comprises 12 characters. The first three characters represent the manufacturer identification code (MIC). The following characters denote the serial number of the boat. The last four characters indicate the boat’s model year and manufacturing month. The final portion of it is of interest when attempting to determine the boat’s age. 

Boat’s Model Year 

The HIN does include a code for the boat’s model year. It is vital to note that this code does not necessarily correspond to the calendar year in which the boat was manufactured. Rather, the model year indicated in the HIN represents the model year designated by the manufacturer for that particular vessel. 

This distinction is significant because boat manufacturers often assign model years based on their production schedules and marketing strategies, instead of the actual calendar year of manufacture. As a result, a boat with a model year of 2023, for instance, may have been built and sold in 2022 or even earlier. 


Discrepancies between the model year indicated in the HIN and the actual year of manufacture can arise due to various factors, including delays in production, inventory management practices, and changes in manufacturing processes. Consequently, if you rely on the model year code in the HIN to determine the boat’s age, it may not provide an accurate representation of its manufacturing timeline. 

What is the Alternative? 

If searching a boat’s history using this number may not reliably tell you the year of the boat, what alternative methods are available? One approach is to conduct a comprehensive boat history check using various sources of information, including documentation from previous owners, maintenance records, and inspection reports. 

You may also consult reputable marine surveyors to provide valuable insights into a boat’s age, condition, and overall value. These professionals possess the expertise and experience to assess the various factors influencing a boat’s age. They can also offer informed opinions based on their observations and analysis. 

In that case, searching for a boat history using this method may not offer a definite answer. It is essential to consider multiple sources of information. As mentioned, the boat manufacturing process is complex and it involves a lot of various factors. 

boat history by hull number

Why Use Boat History? 

This method is crucial if you wish to verify ownership. By accessing records associated with the HIN, you can confirm the current and previous owners of the boat. It ensures that the seller has the legal right to sell the boat. 

If you wish to start a search for boat history by hull number, you may head over to the forms section or contact us and our team of experts will teach you how. Meanwhile, you may browse more posts on our website to learn more about vessel registration and related topics.