Hull Identification Numbers

The Office of Homeland Security is asking some boat owners to get new hull identification numbers as part of their annual registration process.  These are not supposed to be vinyl letters laminated under fiberglass and epoxy, rather inset into your hull…and we’ve got a system.

New boats are already outfitted with the compliant hull identification numbers. You can find them on the back right-hand side of the vessel.


Hull Identification NumbersBut there are thousands of boat owners who need to get new hull identification numbers and you’re not supposed to put your boat in the water until you have them.

“If you are one of the 19,000 boat owners in Washington that has a non-conforming hull identification number, you need to come and see us,” said Vicky Dalton, Spokane County Auditor.

Your hull identification number is kind of like the VIN number on our car.

The Coast Guard wants to know who owns each and every boat on the nation’s waterways and they’re tracking that info with a 12 character alpha numeric field.

 But, if your hull identification number is too long, you have to get a new one.

“What we’d really like boat owners to do is take a photo or a rubbing of your hull identification number and bring it in to us,” said Dalton. “That’s the easiest way for us to verify if your hull number is conforming or non-conforming.”

Boaters with non-conforming numbers have to hassle getting new plates for their boats, and that will involve a trip to a trophy shop.

Worst of all, no one seems to know what’s behind the new requirements for the hull identification numbers.

If you register your boat in Washington, contact the Department of Licensing.

If you’re boating in Idaho, you can find out if you’ve got the right hull identification number online through Idaho Parks and Recreation.