HINs on Strip/S&G boats

I just built a Pygmy Arctic Tern (yea!) and have to register it in the state of Ohio. State and Federal law require boats to have Hull Identification Numbers (HINs) and Pygmy has provided me with one. The question for boat builders is where and how do you put your HIN # on your boats? My whitewater boat has the HIN scratched into the plastic under the stern grab handle. Has anyone ever been ticketed for paddling a kit-built boat without an HIN?

I’ve had four wooden boats and the HIN has never been an item. I think it only comes into play if you register or title the boat. So far, knock on wood, we don’t have to register kayaks.

You can put it on with a Magic Marker or really anything.

You could have put it on before you glassed it had you known.

We only put an HIN on our first home-built boat, and that was only because we registered it. We used a couple of engraved brass plates from Woodcraft, one on the inside where it is visible and one on the outside. They are only $4 each plus shipping, so it’s a relatively inexpensive way to go, and they look decent on a wooden boat. This should take you to that part of their website:


I think the other guys have it right. I never heard of anyone being ticketed for not having one per se. However, one is needed to register your boat. You may not have to register it where you live, but you may in another state. Here in Minnesota, for instance, a boat(canoe/kayak) must be registered. They will honor other state’s registrations, but it must be registered somewhere. You can be ticketed for your kayak not being registered.

It may also come into play should you ever want to sell it. It also is wise to have just as an identifier to prove that it is your boat and not one of the same make & model. Remember, too, that the HIN gives other information such as when it was made.

The brass plate idea is a good one and will probably suffice, though the regs have wording that says it must be permanently affixed. Perhaps epoxy it on. I use an electric engraving tool. It’s the kind used for putting your name on your tools. I engrave my HIN on before glassing. I think you could put it on plain paper (type on a computer and print it off); cut it out; hold it in place and epoxy over it. The paper pretty much disappears. I’ve put small designs on paddles this way.

I used a vibrating pencil to engrave an extra piece of the plywood that came with my arctic tern, filled in the letters and numbers with black ink, epoxied it and then nailed it (with bronze nails)and epoxied in the recomended location. This was cheap and looks good also. I also wrote it on the exposed wood inside the aft compartment before glassing.

These are great boats…hope you enjoy yours as much as I have mine.

My Merganser came with directions for it
It said to put the HIN (already provided by the designer) on the right side of the boat behind the coaming, if I remember correctly. It also suggested writing the HIN in at least one concealed location. I wrote mine inside one of the hatch compartments and then epoxied over the writing.

I forgot the directions when I actually put it on my own boat. My HIN is on the left side! But it doesn’t matter here. CO does not require HINs for paddle boats.

HINs in Florida
"Hull Identification Numbers

All vessels operated on the waters of this state must have an assigned hull identification number.

A hull identification number is unique to the vessel and allows its positive identification.

The numbers must be above the waterline of the vessel in such a way that alteration, removal or replacement would be obvious and evident.

The hull identification number must be a minimum of 12 characters in length and no less than one-fourth inch in height.

Vessels for which the manufacturer has provided no hull identification number and homemade vessels constructed or assembled by the owner will be assigned a hull identification number by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Any questions regarding the hull identification number on a vessel should be directed to the nearest Florida Marine Patrol district office or to the Bureau of Vessel Titles and Registration located in Tallahassee."

The following link has the actual statute - 328.07


This only applies for boats the State requires registration for, and paddlecraft still get a pass. Unless the Coast Guard requires kayak HINs, I guess my SOF is still legal with just my DNA markers.

Coast Guard guidelines for homebuilders
"Individuals building boats for their own use and not for the purposes of sale are what are referred to as “backyard boat builders”. They must obtain a 12 character HIN from their State boating agency. The Manufacturer Identification Code at the beginning of the HIN for a “home built” boat is an abbreviation for the State followed by a “Z” which indicates that it is a State identification."

OK, so what if a “backyard boat builder” later sells? What if they build for a friend? Sell to a friend? Seems those of us who build might be better off with real numbers that ID us as makers and not just a generic state prefix.

For more refer to:

U.S. Department of Transportation

United States Coast Guard




For a detailed description of the HIN, and how to get a MFG prefix, refer to:

US Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety

Recreational Boating Product Assurance Division

Boating Safety Circular # 70