How to Read and Understand Hull Registration Numbers

Hull Registration Numbers

All vessels built or offered for sale in Canada must have a Hull Serial Number as per small vessel regulations. These numbers are not only for vessel identification but indicate model standards and are used in the event of manufacturer’s defect recall. When buying a used boat, determining its true age is crucial to a buyer. Buyers for new boats will be checked to establish their model year. One way of doing this is to check the Hull Identification Number (HIN) on the label affixed to the boat. Here is how to read and understand hull registration numbers.

What is The Hull Registration Number?

The hull serial or registration number comprises 12 alphanumeric characters. The number carries four distinct markers with an optional one. The sequence starts with a two-character country code prefix (optional), in this case, CA for Canada. Next and mandatory is the manufacturer’s identification code in the format ABC as the case may be, followed by the manufacturer’s serial number shown as 1AB11. The next two parts include the date of commencement of construction FO and model year 20 with a complete rendering as CA-ABC1AB11FO20.

Placement on Vessel

Regulations demand that the HIN be affixed permanently to the vessel in a manner that deters tampering. The HIN must also be visible above the waterline and in prescribed character size, preferably 6mm, in height and width. This must be affixed on the transom’s upper starboard quarter or aft of the hull on the starboard side of the model that does not have a transom. A further duplicate copy is affixed to a hidden part of the vessel known only to the manufacturer on the interior. The recommended method for marking is by molding the number into the fiberglass hull during manufacture.

How to Read the Hull Registration Number

Here is how to read the hull registration number especially if your concern is to know the age of the vessel. Part of the HIN comprises the month in which construction commenced and the year in the last two bits. The first part of this pair has characters that denote month as coded accordingly by Transport Canada Marine Safety. The months are assigned alphabetical characters running from A for January to L for December. In the example above, for instance, CA-ABC1AB11F020 would indicate that the vessel construction commenced in June (F) model year 2020 (020). 

Security uses of HIN

Hull registration numbers are important in the proof of ownership and can be used in the recovery of stolen boats. When issues of warranty arise, the manufacturer will rely on the hull number to verify claims before acting. It is therefore important that you do not temper or deface your boat’s hull registration number for whatever reason. We at National Vessel Registry Center, Corp assist owners and buyers to register their boats at Transport Canada efficiently and affordably through a simple three-step online application process. Call us on toll-free number (800) 419-9569 Canada for help.