TERRY r. Wolff


USCG Documentation Board Information

Documentation Boards are used as identify numbers assigned to boat hulls. 

Hull identification numbers (HIN) are assigned by the USCG as a way to assure boat ownership. Boats are usually originally registered with the boat maker and need to be re-registered by future owners. Not all boats may be registered and it is therefore your responsibility to register your boat. There are stiff fines associated with not having your boat registered. But that's not my department, I provide Documentation Boards to boat owners. These Documentation Boards are required by the U.S. Coast Guard for seaworthy boats owned by Americans.

Why does the Coast Guard award an "Official Number" to a documented boat?

Since documentation is the "National Form of Registration" it only makes sense that a number would be assigned and serve as the identifier for your boat. The official number awarded to each documented boat is the equivalent of the social security number given each person at birth. The number stays with the boat forever — it does not change as the boat is resold over the years from one owner to the net.

Why do you have to install my "Official Number" in your boat?

Initially, the proper and permanent installation of your official number, along with the name and hailing port you chose, validates your Certificate of Documentation for use of the boat. While the name and hailing port markings must be clear and legible, (minimum 4" letters) the common method of painting or vinyl lettering is not "permanent". The boat name and port may change with each owner but the official number never will.

Since boats are mobile, coupled with the fact that for every new boat sold there are seven used boats sold. Maintaining accurate records of the boats, the owners and the lien holders are the only ways to assure proper transfer of ownership passes from one owner to the next.

Installing a Documentation Board is evidence of current (or prior) vessel documentation. It is a signal to a prospective purchaser to search the Coast Guard records to verify ownership and lien statutes of the boat.

What are the consequences of not properly marking your boat?

The owner can be liable for a civil penalty of not more that $10,000 per violation. Each day of a continuing violation is a separate violation. Please refer to the reverse side of your Certificate of Documentation for verification of these statements.

Ready for your Documentation Board?

I make my Documentation Boards from a number of different materials and finish choices. The letters and numbers always have to be 3 inches tall.  You can have the letters and numbers either carved or routed in, varnished, painted, primed or not.

For your convenience and to save you time I have listed a number of possible combinations of materials and finishes for you to chose from to assure you a documentation board to meet your criteria.

Just purchase the one that suits your needs.  All documentation boards come with a chamfered edge and rounded corners.

Please, please remember to attach your documentation number to your order. Put your number in the place provided when you are checking out. Also if there is an option choice, please select the option you want before clicking on the "Buy Now" button.


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This page designed and maintained by Terry R. Wolff
On the Web since 1996, Last up-dated on January 27, 2018