HIN Verification

and Analysis


HINVALID is a unique consumer protection service designed to detect errors and/or potentially fraudulent alterations in a boat's Hull Identification Number (HIN). It is estimated that recently-introduced HIN verification requirements may affect as many as one in ten boat owners.

Services Offered

Our Instant HIN Verification (IHV) service is a fully-automated series of tests designed to advise you of any HIN irregularitities which may cause a problem when registering your boat. For maximum protection, we also offer our IHV Plus service in which a trained analyst compares your HIN against a virtual production list of similar HINs used by the same builder to provide an accuracy and originality assessment of your HIN.

Instant HIN Verification Service Components


IHV Plus


Compliance Check is the first test we perform and it examines your HIN for compliance with Federal regulations pertaining to HIN content, format, and composition. This fully automated test is included with our basic IHV service as well as our IHV Plus service for maximum protection.


Exclusive to HINVALID, this Make- and Model Year-specific sequence analyzer tests the manufacturer's serial number portion of the HIN (digits 4-8) for sequence consistency. This fully automated test is included with our basic IHV service as well as our IHV Plus service for maximum protection.


During our Analyst Review - a HINVALID exclusive for IHV Plus customers - a trained analyst will compare your HIN with other HINs used by the builder, identify sequence irregularities, provide an accuracy and originality assessment of your HIN, and respond to follow-up questions.

The HINVALID Difference

Paper boats - HINVALID is unique

The most important part of a HIN, the manufacturer's serial number (digits 4-8) is where the vast majority of fraudulent alterations are made. Yet despite this fact, only HINVALID tests this critical character sequence for accuracy.

A boat's HIN decoded

To see for yourself, enter a HIN containing a fake serial number (e.g. "FAKE1") into any other HIN check application. Provided the other seven characters are OK, you will NOT receive a warning about this bogus HIN. You will NOT learn to tread carefully with this vessel. With HINVALID, you will.

Why do I need HINVALID?

For used boat buyers, an invalid or suspicious HIN should raise a "red flag" warranting increased caution before a purchase is considered. You may be thinking, "What are the odds that my HIN is invalid?" That's a fair question. The numbers may surprise you.

Based on statistics released by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the median error rate or percentage of invalid HINs for all 50 states is in excess of 10%. Said another way, one could argue that one out of every ten HINs presents a potential issue. Here at HINVALID, our experience has shown us that this statistic is alarmingly accurate.

It's important to note that HINVALID is not just for boat buyers. All boat owners should know if the HIN on their boat will comply with the new pleasure boat registration rules sponsored by the USCG and the Department of Homeland Security. These new regulations have already been passed (March 2012) and will be going into effect nationwide in the near future. Among the changes are new requirements for HIN verification and the updating of vessel ownership information.

Also mentioned in the rule change is an option for states, or their designated agents, to issue and affix their own new HIN for vessels with currently defective HINs. This "re-tagging" is not without precedent; the re-tagging of automobiles by state agencies is not that uncommon. Many custom built or salvage vehicles have state-issued VINs. Most used car dealers would agree that a state-issued VIN brings into question a car's provenance or history, which can have an adverse effect on the car's resale value. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that a re-tagged boat's value could be similarly affected.

CARFAX for Boats?

After hearing about HINVALID, some consumers understandably jump to the conclusion that what we offer is essentially a "CARFAX for boats" -type service. This is simply not the case.

Sadly, although there is abundant and accurate historical information available for automobiles, the same cannot be said for boats. In fact, the little information that can be found often creates more questions than it answers. As such, we purposefully do not provide information on make and model specifics, prior or current vessel ownership, lien/loan status, or registration history.

Here at HINVALID, our focus is directed at determining the accuracy and authenticity of your submitted HIN. By establishing this, you may avoid becoming a victim of fraud or having future problems when attempting to register a boat as new, mandatory HIN verification processes become standard nationwide.

All that said, we strongly encourage our clients to search the U.S. Coast Guard Recalls Database, part of their online Boating Safety Resource Center. The USCG also maintains a Recreational Boating Accident Report Database (BARD). This database can only be searched by government personnel and reporting state agencies. Although the general public cannot search the BARD, you can learn more about boat accident reporting and download a boat accident report form from the USCG's Boating Safety Resource Center.

More Information

For more information about our process, we encourage you to visit our Help Center.