SEATTLE -- There's a new federal standard that all boat owners in Washington have to meet and this means 19,000 owners in the state will need to make a change to meet that standard.
From the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard comes an edict that all Hull Identification Numbers be 12 digits.
The HIN is the number typically found on the transom of a boat.
“A lot of people are getting caught off guard by it,” said Gerald Fey, a western Washington boat owner.
Fey is among those 19,000 boat owners who got a letter in the mail that it’s time to renew the registration. But he admits that the letter got set aside since he figured it was just a standard reminder notice.
But then a fellow member of his Queen City Yacht Club, alerted all members to the change this year.
Those 19,000 boat owners cannot renew online as usual; they must go into an office to get it done this year.
So Fey did the research and gathered the paperwork before he went to the office.
“I needed to have my registration, my title and the evidence of what I have on my existing number,” he said.
Evidence of the existing number can be presented in either a photo or a rubbing of the boat’s HIN.
“They issued me a new hull identification number and I have to replace the one that's on the boat. So I’m not sure how I’m going to do that yet, but maybe I’ll go to a trophy shop or something and get a plaque made,” said Fey.
The state says Fey and all others in this ‘boat’ will have to take that plate with the new number on it and permanently attach to the boat, adjacent to the existing number.
The state says both numbers must be displayed.
All boat registrations must be current by June 30.
"End of June comes around here and people are going to try and get their new registrations for summer and the ones who are affected by this are going to have to jump through a bunch of hoops and may have to go make several trips back and forth to the office, to be ready for 4th of July,” said Fey.
The U.S. Coast Guard says this new standardization is to improve boating safety, enhance law enforcement and promote maritime security.