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Hull Numbers Explained

Pearson Yachts HIN

A hull identification number is a unique code, including a serial number, used by the boating industry to identify individual vessels.

In 1972 the U.S. Federal government established the Hull Identification Number (HIN in this document), that is required for all boats manufactured or imported on or after November 1, 1972. Vessels manufactured or imported before this date are exempt from this requirement, when builder's identified boats ad hoc. The HIN is a 12 digit serial number that uniquely identifies a boat. It is analogous to a VIN on a motor vehicle registration. The HIN is normally used during the boat registration process and should be included on any bill of sale.

The primary HIN must be permanently affixed or engraved on the hull on the starboard side of the transom within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest, so that it can be seen from outside the boat. To identify a boats hull number for registration purposes some states may require a pencil rubbing or tracing of the hull number. To create a pencil tracing, place a blank piece of paper on top of the number and rub a pencil across the paper so that an impression of the number appears. If the rubbing is not clearly legible write the numbers you see adjacent to the rubbing and take a digital photograph.

Note: The HIN is not the same as a State registration number, which may be required to be displayed on the bow of your boat.

Hull Number Rubbin

Hull Number Rubbing

Hull Identification Number Format

In the USA the federal regulations prescribe the standard format of the 12 digits.

  • The first three characters consist of the Manufacturers Index Code and should only be letters.
  • The next five characters are the unique serial number assigned by the Manufacturer, and can be a series of letters and/or numbers with the exception of the letters O, I, and Q (they can be easily mistaken).
  • The last four characters determine the model and certification year of the boat. Prior to August 1, 1984, the manufacturer had the option of expressing this in the form of a model year designation.

Figure 1: HIN prior to August 1, 1984

Hull ID Number

Figure 2: HIN after August 1, 1984

Hull Identification Number

Figure 3: Pearson HIN

Pearson HIN

Figure 4: Location on Transom

HIN Location


Hull Identification Number Details

3 Pearson Yachts Examples:
  • PEA77034H485 – 1985 Pearson 385
  • PEA58288M81A – 1980 Pearson 323
  • PEA46205M76A – 1975 Pearson 26

Manufacturers Identification Code (First 3 Digits)

Pearson Yachts used PEA to identify the manufacturer. Note: Cal-Pearson used code KDG for yachts built from 1986–2003.

  • PEA 58288M81A – Pearson Yachts code of PEA

Hull Serial Number (Next 5 Digits)

Pearson Yachts used the 5 digit Serial Number to specify the first 2 digits as a factory model code (Table 1), and the last 3 digits as the unique hull number. Note: This 3 digit hull number presents a problem for boat productions greater than 999. An example is the P26, where production reached 1,000 in 1975, causing the number to roll over. This resulted in the necessity to add 1,000 to the hull number from that year forward.

  • PEA 58288 M81A – Factory model identifier of 58 (a Pearson 323)
  • PEA 58288 M81A – The hull number is 288

  • PEA 46205 M76A – Factory model identifier of 46 (a Pearson 26)
  • PEA 46205 M76A – The hull number is 1205

Date of Certification (Last 4 Digits)

Pearson Yachts used the 4 digit Date of Certification to specify 2 digits as the year, 1 digit as month code (Table 2), and 1 digit that is yet undetermined. As you will note in the example the naming convention changed in 1984 so that the last two digits became the year – to conform to the change in HIN specifications. The Pearson production year runs from August of the previous year to July of the given year.

Before August 1 1984:

  • PEA 58288 M81A – Year 1981, production year is 1980 as determined by the month code
  • PEA 58288 M81A – The production month is A for August

After August 1 1984:

  • PEA 77034 H4 85 – Year 1985
  • PEA 77034 H4 85 – The production month is H for March

Table 1 - Factory Model Code

Code Production Model Code Production Model
39 Pearson 35 (1968–72) 65 Pearson 32 (1979–82)
46 Pearson 26 (1970–82) 66 Pearson 365 Pilothoust (1979–81)
48 Pearson 30 (1970–80) 68 Pearson Flyer (1981–??)
51 Pearson 36 (1970–76) 69 Pearson 367 36 Cutter (1981–82)
52 Pearson 10M (1973–80) 70 Pearson 37 (1982–86)
54 Pearson 28 (1976?) 71 Pearson 303 (1983–86)
55 Pearson 26 Weekender (1975–76) 72 Pearson 424 Cutter
56 Pearson 365 (1976–82) 75 Pearson 422 (1984–87)
57 Pearson 28 (1977–82) 77 Pearson 385/386 (1984–?)
58 Pearson 323 (1976–81) 78 Pearson 36-2 (1985–90)
59 Pearson 424 Ketch (1978–83) 80 Pearson 28 (1986–89)
60 Pearson 26 OD (1977–83) 90 Pearson 31-2 (1987–91)
61 Pearson 31 (1978–81) 91 Pearson 27 (1988–91)
62 Pearson 40 (1979–81) 92 Pearson 37-2 (1988–91)

Table 2 - Month Code

Aug A Feb G
Sep B Mar H
Oct C Apr I
Nov D May J
Dec E Jun K
Jan F Jul L
Production year runs from August of the previous year to July of the given year


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