Boat VIN (HIN) Search
Boat VIN search is a misused term for boat HIN search. HIN stands for Hull Identification Number. Boat VIN search serves the same purpose and car VIN search - checking the boat history. There is a misconception that buying a used boat has less pitfalls and is not associated with such great risks as cars, mostly because number of boats is negligibly small as compared with vehicles. However, knowing a boat history may be even more important than with other vehicles. In spite of what it may seem, boat crashes or running around accidents are very common. Sailing a boat that has a hidden problem may be much more dangerous than driving a car. A car is one the dry land and you can stop and get out if you suspect something's wrong. With a boat, it's not the same, especially when you stay in it overnight.
A boat VIN search report includes the following information:
- Boat title search for salvage history
- Hurricane damage
- Fire damage
- Collision damage
- Running aground
- Environmental Liens
- Warranty information
Boat VIN Search: First Steps
Boat VIN search starts with careful inspection of the HIN on the boat. Unbelievable, but boats get stolen just like cars, because the profit the thieves receive from re-selling just one boat may exceed that from a car manyfold. And of course, the thieves are aware about boat history reports and do whatever they can to get away. Faking boat VIN numbers is one of the ways of doing so and sometimes spotting a faked HIN is really difficult. That's why you need to inspect the HIN carefully and take a note of the following:
- Each boat manufacturer must print HIN number on all boats manufactured or imported on or after November 1, 1972
- A HIN must be at least one-fourth of an inch high to the starboard side of the hull within two inches of the top of the gunwale, transom, or hull/deck joint (whichever is the lowest) aft within one foot of the stern. It HIN should be visible from outside.
- All boat VIN numbers are 12 characters long, where the first 3 digits signify manufacturer ID code (MIC), next 5 letters are the serial number, the last 4 digits encode the date of certification - month and year.
- There must be no signs of printing, filing, scratching or chemical action on a boat VIN number or the area where the HIN was molded in. All letters and digits must look identically. If the number of paint coats filling the HIN differs from the number covering the hull, it's suspicious. The HIN suggesting that a 2005 model was built in 1999 must be fake.
- All boats manufactured or imported on or after August 1, 1984 must have a secondary HIN elsewhere on the boat on an unexposed item of hardware. The secondary HIN helps identify the boat when the thief remove or alter the primary HIN number.
- If the MIC consists or the state's abbreviation letters followed by Z (like CAZ), this either means that the boat was built but for personal use (not for sale) and was assigned an appropriate HIN by State boating agency, or the original HIN was damaged or destroyed in any way, and the boat was given a new HIN. Be careful with such MICs.
Online Boat VIN Number Search
Like with cars, boat VIN search can be done online on sites like Coast Guard, Boatfax and Boat History Report. You can start with free boat VIN search to check if there are any records if the database.