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Hull Numbers Explained


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

Hull Number Definition

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.

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 Location

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.

Hull Number Rubbing

Hull Number Rubbing

12-Digit Number Standard

In the USA the federal regulations prescribe the standard format of the 12 alpha-numeric characters.

  1. The first three characters consist of the manufacturers index code and should only be letters.
  2. 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).
  3. The last four characters determine the certification year and month or model year designation of the boat. (Prior to August 1, 1984, the manufacturer had the option of expressing this in the form of a model year designation).

HIN Examples:
Figure 1: Pearson 26

Pearson HIN

Figure 2: Location on Transom

HIN Location

Figure 3: Format prior to 1 Aug 1984

Hull ID Number

Figure 4: Format after 1 Aug 1984

Hull Identification Number

Example Hull Numbers Decoded for Pearson Boats

  •  PEA58288M81A – 1980 Pearson 323 
  •  PEA46205M76A – 1975 Pearson 26 
  •  PEA77034H485 – 1985 Pearson 385 
Manufacturers Identification Code

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
Manufacturers Identification Code (MIC) Lookup

The USCG website provides a tool to search the manufacturers list with a company name or MIC: Manufacturers Identification

Hull Serial Number

Pearson Yachts used the 5 digit Serial Number to specify the factory model code (see table 1), and the unique hull number.

    Pearson 323 Hull Number 288:
  • PEA 58288 M81A – Factory model identifier of 58
  • PEA 58288 M81A – Serial Number

  • Pearson 26 Hull Number 1205:
  • PEA 46205 M76A – Factory model identifier of 46
  • PEA 46205 M76A –

Note that the 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.

Date of Certification

Pearson Yachts used the Date of Certification to specify year and month (see table 2), and 1 digit is undetermined.

    Before August 1, 1984:
  • PEA 58288 M81A – Year 1981, production year of 1980 based on month code
  • PEA 58288 M81A – The production month is A for August
    August 1, 1984 and after:
  • PEA 77034 H4 85 – Year 1985
  • PEA 77034 H4 85 – The production month is H for March

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.

Pearson Factory Specific Codes

Table 1 - Factory Model Code
Code Production Model Code Production Model
39 Pearson 35 (1968–82) 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)
97 Pearson 23 (1979–85)
Table 2 - Production Month
Month Code
Aug A
Sep B
Oct C
Nov D
Dec E
Jan F
Feb G
Mar H
Apr I
May J
Jun K
Jul L
Production year runs from August of the previous year to July of the given year

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