What to Do and What Not to Do When It Comes to Boat Numbering

Boat Numbering

Have you seen numbers on the side of a boat and wondered exactly what they mean? Do you feel like you know that a boat should have certain numbers on it yet aren’t certain about what differentiates some numbers from others?  Boat numbering is an essential aspect of boat ownership, and understanding the guidelines can help boat owners comply with regulations and avoid any legal issues. At our vessel documentation site, we understand how important the numbers on boats can be. Below are some basics to keep in mind. 

Official Numbers: for Documented Vessels 

At our site, we deal with documented vessels. These vessels have an Official Number given by the USCG. Only vessels that measure at least five net tons and are wholly owned by a citizen of the United States are eligible for this kind of documentation. Vessel owners who document their vessels typically do so because they’re going to use the vessels for fishing, coastwise trade, or to obtain a preferred ship’s mortgage. On the other hand, state registration typically applies to smaller boats used for recreational purposes. 

The HIN 

That said, an Official Number may not be the only number that you see on the side of a documented vessel. For example, you may also see what’s called a “Hull Identification Number” or  “HIN.” Every boat manufactured after 1972 is assigned a unique Hull Identification Number (HIN). The HIN serves as the boat’s unique identifier and must be displayed on the vessel’s transom or starboard outboard side above the waterline. It is a 12-character alphanumeric code that provides information about the boat’s manufacturer, serial number, and other relevant details.

State Registration Numbers 

At our site, we deal with federal documentation. We do not deal with state registration. That said, if your boat requires state registration, it will also need to display state-specific registration numbers. These numbers are assigned by the state’s boating authority or Department of Motor Vehicles. The registration numbers must be prominently displayed on both sides of the bow (front) of the boat, usually in a contrasting color to ensure visibility.

How to Put Numbers on Your Boat 

If you have a documented vessel, then the official number has to be preceded by “NO.” This has to be marked at least three inches high in block-type Arabic Numerals on an interior structural part of the hull that’s clearly visible. When it comes to “clearly visible,” use your common sense. Moreover, you have to permanently affix this number in such a way that altering it or removing it would be obvious, causing some kind of damage to the surrounding area. 

Boat Numbering

More Than Boat Numbering

At our site, we can help you to apply for the boat numbers that you may need, yes. However, we can also help you to do so much more than that. At the Vessel Registrar Center, you can find so many of the different forms that you may need for the course of vessel ownership. From researching potential vessels with an abstract of title, through documenting a vessel for the first time, to renewing that documentation, replacing/reinstating it if necessary, and so much more, you can find what you’ll need right here at our site.