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7 Best Sites to Get a Free Boat History Check and HIN Report

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Written by: Kate Starr
Last Updated:

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Key Takeaways

  • Boat History Report offers a free boat history check through brokers, allows searching by HIN, USCG Doc number, or state registration, and provides a comprehensive report on warranties, accidents, and other critical information.
  • Boat Trader and are other platforms that offer free basic boat history checks, with Boat Trader directly linking to for full reports.
  • For affordable paid boat history reports, ($19.99 per report), Boatfax ($20 for a basic US search), and (subscription-based) are top options. They provide extensive databases, instant valuations, and international searches.

7 Sites to Get a Free & Affordable Boat History Check

Boat History Report

Boat History Report Summary

  • Clean simple and easy to use reports
  • Offers 70% discount for 6 reports
  • Provides online reports fast
  • Reliable customer service

Boat History Report is the only entity providing a service for watercraft history to have partnered with the National Crime Insurance Bureau (NICB), which adds a lot of weight to its free boat history check.

To access a free report, you will need to;

  • Ask a broker who needs to have signed up with Boat History Report to supply you with one.
  • Enter the Hull Identification Number (HIN), United States Coast Guard (USCG) Doc number, or State registration to identify how you want to search. 
  • You can then key in the ID in the next box on the site to start the search process, enabling you to order boat registration history.

The free report will capture issues like warranties, accidents, fire, submerged boats, exposure to hurricanes, and more to help avoid costly future problems.

If you are a first-time buyer, a free sample report is available to help you understand everything to look out for before purchasing.

A Boat History Report is critical; it equips you with prior knowledge of the vessel and helps you make the right decision on whether to buy the boat or not. It will also help you negotiate the best price possible.

Boat Alert Summary

  • 72 different free and paid databases
  • Over 9000 insurance companies records
  • Costing just $39.99 for ten searches
  • 60-day money back guarantee

Started by Mr. Kabbani in 2015 for US and Canadian boats, Boat-Alert solved the problem of decoding the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for boats’ HIN.

Their data stems from a collection of 30 different databases, resulting in reports that check on the most common categories in the industry. You can find your boat history report by keying in the boat’s HIN, 12 characters long on the site.

Consequently, a report will be instantly generated for $19.99; if you opt to conduct ten searches, you will pay $39.99. 

You can receive a robust report based on a 24-point checklist. Their site checks on 68 private and public boat databases, including Federal, the States Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Lastly, Boat-Alert guarantees a 60-day refund, and 2% from each proceeds goes to charity, so when you engage in their services, you indirectly contribute to a noble cause.

Boat Trader

Boat Trader is an American online platform founded in 1996 that offers free boat history checks. Their average monthly interaction of 9 million consumers makes them one of the leading market boat traders.

Subsequently, to capitalize on their 9 million consumer interaction, Boat Trader directly links their website traffic to for a free boat history report.

Therefore, you can get a report using the Hull Identification Number (HIN), United States Coast Guard (USCG) Doc number or State registration.

The report will have a checklist consisting of;

  • Warranty 
  • Accident records
  • If it has ever run aground or capsized
  • Ever been seized or flagged for illegal activities
  • And more
free boats

Another website for a basic free boat history check is, which specializes in buying and selling boats. Their helpful resource page includes links to the iOS boat history app, boat design software, and the iOS boat valuer app.

Clicking on the link will give you access to a free Hull Identification Number (HIN) check for any vessel.

You can do a free search using the Manufacturer Identification Code (MIC) on to verify the manufacturer

However, to get a full boat history check, you can visit the Boat-Alert website. They also recommend visiting BoatFax and BoatHistoryReport as other sources for boat history reports.


Boatfax Summary

  • You can get an instant valuation for free
  • Report with no add-ons will cost $20
  • You can search international databases
  • Full valuation for your boat – $10

Boatfax is a Europe-based website that offers international searches for boats, history reports, and equipment.  

To get a boat history check, you will need to pay a combined $34 for their services. Conversely, you can pay $20 for a basic search, that is, searches centered on the US, and a further $3 if you want a worldwide search.

Add another $11 to get a more specific and exhaustive search.

The report includes hurricane checks, manufacturer details, and incident checks. 

It is worth noting that the incident check is unique to Boatfax. It shows any recent activity that has been reported in the surrounding area according to your zip code.

Other than the history report, you can search using the boat’s HIN. If you don’t know the HIN, you will need to confirm by searching to find out if you can still request the report. is one of the leading boat websites in the US, having gathered the most extensive resources of boat history reports and title searches. 

Their database for vessel documentation is 550,000 and allows you to search by State, city, county, or zip code.  

Armed with a Boats Cope database consisting of 8 combined databases fused into one interface, they offer multiple searches on the single interface available on desktops and mobile phone apps. 

The resources are categorized into three, namely;

  • United States Coast Guards (USCG) Documented vessels
  • State Registered Boats
  • Foreign Registered Yachts.

MarineTitle offers paid boat history reports. However, you can get a free HIN check by visiting the site. Additionally, as part of the basic knowledge for boats, you can familiarize yourself on how to decode a HIN number using this link.  

In that vein, to access a paid report, you will have to choose 1 out of 3 options below;

Number of Days (Subscription)Savings in $Amount in $

All the above options come with unlimited access and free boat research guides.

They include;

  • Check for the hull identification number
  • Search lookup for vessel documentation
  • Search for a boat manufacturer
  • A search registry for lien claims of boats
  • Search registry for stolen boats
  • Summary for vessel registry
  • Summary of vessels registered in States

Requests records for USCG vessels and many more. has a robust database (Boatscope) drawing information from 8 maritime sources. Together with Boat-Alert, they charge for history reports that are worth the pay.

The Hull Truth

The Hull Truth is an American website that brings boat lovers and owners together to share their boating and fishing experiences. In that line, the website focuses on boat listings, electronic equipment, and services like insurance brokerage. 

However, the site has over 4.6 million posts, and participation is free. All you need to do is register and click on the section you want to view the comments.

The Hull Truth does not offer boat history reports; it is a helpful website for interacting with other boat owners. In the forum, you will learn from the experiences of boat owners who have used history reports, how they have benefited from them and what they think about them.

If you are interested, you can join one of the regional boating and fishing groups from different states divided into zones. 

boat vin lookup

Free Boat History Check FAQ

How do I check the VIN on a boat?

Like other types of vehicles, boats have an identification number called Hull Identification Number or HIN. It’s a 12-digit series of letters and numbers that provides the watercraft’s unique details, such as the manufacturing year and who built it. 

For boats manufactured after November 1, 1972, the HIN is stamped on the transom or main beam. 

Boats also have secondary locations for the HIN, which are usually kept secret. In case of theft and HIN tampering, law enforcement can check a boat’s true HIN. 

How do I look up the model of my boat?

The first step in looking up the model and identifying your boat is to look for the HIN. Once you have the 12-digit alpha-numeric ID, get the first three letters. These three letters are your boat’s Manufacturer Identification Code or MIC. 

Then, through the USCG Manufacturer’s Identification page, enter the MIC of your boat, select All States on the state field, and click on Submit. 

The page will generate the following information on your boat’s manufacturer:

  • Company name
  • Address
  • Status (still in business or otherwise)
  • Previous company names

To look for your boat’s model year, you need to decipher the last 4 letters and numbers on the HIN. For example, your boat’s HIN is ABC12345D404. 

The letter D represents the month it was certified, while the next number, 4, is the certification year. Meanwhile, the last two digits, 04, represent the model year. 

Interpreting Certification Month

If your boat was manufactured or imported after August 1, 1984, the letter on HIN can be read as A for January, B for February, and so on. In the example above, the boat was certified in April. 

However, if your boat was manufactured between November 1, 1972, and July 31, 1984, the letters represent a different sequence of months. A will be August, B will be September, C will be October, and so on. 

Interpreting the Model Year

The model year, the last two numbers at the end of the HIN, is pretty easy to read. In the example above, the model year will be 04, which can only stand for 2004. 

Next to it, the 4, is the year it was certified. Since the model year is 2004, reading the certification year 4 as 2004 makes sense. 

How do I look up the history of a boat?

To look up the history of your boat, you will need any of the following information: 

  • HIN
  • State registration number
  • USCG documentation number

Then, you can run a history search on online platforms like or BoatAlert.

Is the Hull ID the same as the VIN?

Yes, Hull ID is what VIN is to vehicles, making these two ID numbers practically identical. 

How do you check if a boat is stolen?

Suppose you want to purchase a boat first but want to confirm it’s not stolen. After all, boats might be easier to steal than vehicles. In that case, there are several ways for you to check. 

1. Check All Documentation

Check all titles, registrations, and maintenance records of the boat you intend to buy. You can also check with local registration and titling agencies for the correct format and seal to know if you’re dealing with forged paperwork. 

2. Check For Tampered HIN, Serial, and Registration Numbers  

Scratch numbers, fresh paint, and dirty or missing serial number plates are often tell-tale signs of tampering. You can find the HIN on the transom, serial numbers are on the motors, and registration numbers are usually on the forward half of the hull or the waterline. 

Check the manufacturer for the correct formatting of the serial numbers. Serial numbers with a different format from the manufacturer are a red flag. 

3. Check the Numbers

Once you’ve verified the numbers on the boat and the paperwork match, it’s time to check with local authorities. Using the HIN, registration, or serial numbers, local authorities can help you identify if the boat was stolen. 

In case it is, avoid confronting the seller yourself and alert local law enforcement. 

Besides the local enforcement, you can also confirm if a boat was stolen through 3rd party providers of boat history reports. Usually, you can find out about a boat’s accident and theft history for a small fee. 

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Kate Starr


About the author:

Kate Starr is a personal finance, FinTech and MarTech writer. Her areas of expertise include making money, investing, and money management.

From earning money as a beginner entrepreneur to advanced investing in the stock market, Kate’s guides can help you to get more ideas on how to earn income online and increase your wealth.

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