Do homebuilt kayaks & canoes need hull identification numbers in the U.S.?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by mitchgrunes, Feb 21, 2024.

  1. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
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    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    Someone in

    Question regarding ABYC H-29 in USA.
    claimed that all boats in the U.S. built after 1972 must have hull identification numbers.

    But none of the boatbuilding instructions I've seen online or in books mention this.

    Last I checked with the MVA, my state (Maryland) doesn't even have a way to register kayaks, canoes, surf skis or SUPs, unless you put a motor on them. So how would you even get a HIN?

    Is there an exemption for homebuilts?
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

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  3. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

    Note that the ABYC is an technical lobbying organization for commercial boatbuilders. Federally, HINs are only required is the vessel is manufactured for commercial sale, or are a flagged vessel (i.e. the US Official Number or an IMO number). Broadly speaking IIRC, most states will issue a HIN if the vessel is required to be registered in the state and does not have one. As a specific example here in WA, my Catalina 22 came with a USCG compliant HIN when built in 1981. However the Federal government changed the requirements to standardize HINs to 12 characters much like an automobile VIN in 2012 (this was mainly to ease database requirements). So WA state issued me a new HIN. The old HIN was required to be struck through but still legible and the new HIN carved into the hull in the same place.

    So...CFR Title 33, Chapter 1, Subchapter S, Part 181, Subpart C....

    § 181.23 Hull identification numbers required.

    (a) A manufacturer must identify each boat produced or imported with primary and secondary hull identification numbers permanently affixed in accordance with § 181.29 of this subpart.

    (b) A person who manufactures or imports a boat for his or her own use and not for sale must obtain the required hull identification number in accordance with the requirements of the issuing authority listed in 33 CFR part 173, Appendix A for the boat's State of principal operation and permanently affix the HIN to the boat in accordance with § 181.29 of this subpart.

    (c) No person may assign the same HIN to more than one boat.


    Appendix A to Part 173—Issuing Authorities and Reporting Authorities

    (a) The State is the issuing authority and reporting authority in:

    American Samoa—AS.
    District of Columbia—DC.
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  4. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    There is no simple answer to your question. If it is a homebuilt not from a kit, (you designed and built it yourself) and the state does not require it to be registered (no mechanical propulsion), and it does not have to meet any of the requirements of of 33 CFR 181. (Federal Register :: Request Access, and you never sell it or give it (transfer it) to someone else, and the state does not require it to be registered, THEN you might fall through the cracks and not have to put an HIN on it. But, if you want to sell it at some time, yes you need one. If you want to insure it, your insurance company will most likely ask for the HIN. Some states (Pennsylvania is a good example) require an HIN on just about anything short of an inner tube, or inflatable mattress, to have an HIN. It is very simple to get one. Both I and Gonzo gave you info on how to do it on your other thread. The USCG policy is available on And I strongly reccommend you talk to your State Boating Law Administrator about it, which I gave you a link to on the other thread. I used to live in Maryland (about 40 years ago) and they have their own ideas about boats, revenue and taxes etc. "If you can think of it we can tax it": Unofficial state motto of Maryland
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