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Fishing Boats at Elgol on Skye: These turn out to be registered in Whitby in England and  Caernarvon in Wales
Fishing Boats at Elgol on Skye

Scotland has over 6,000 miles of coastline and, wherever you go in the country, you are not far from the sea. Dotted around this long and complex coastline are over 400 ports and harbours ranging in size from the very large to the tiny. Despite the decline of the fishing industry in recent times, a fascinating aspect of exploring Scotland's coast is the many fishing boats - also ranging in size from the very large to the tiny - on view in these ports and harbours.

This page is for anyone who ever wondered about the origin of fishing boats you see while travelling around Scotland. By law each fishing boat must have a "Port of Registration", and this is identified by one, two, or three letters preceding a number, painted on the boat. In the example shown in the header image, a remote jetty at Elgol on the Isle of Skye was paying host to WY164, registered in Whitby, England; and CO511, registered in Caernarvon, Wales.

The first table below lists Scottish ports in which fishing boats can be registered, and the registration letters associated with each. The second table lists other British Isles ports of registry with their identifying letters. Other European fishing fleets also use registration letters and some of these can sometimes be seen in Scottish ports. You can find a list online here.

Scottish Fishing Boat Registration Letters
A: Aberdeen AA: Alloa AH: Arbroath
AD: Ardrossan AR: Ayr BA: Ballantrae
BF: Banff BO: Bo'ness BRD: Broadford
BCK: Buckie BU: Burntisland CN: Campbeltown
CY: Castlebay DE: Dundee DS: Dumfries
FR: Fraserburgh GH: Grangemouth GN: Granton
GW: Glasgow GK: Greenock INS: Inverness
IE: Irvine K: Kirkwall KY: Kirkcaldy
LH: Leith LK: Lerwick ML: Methil
OB: Oban ME: Montrose PD: Peterhead
RO: Rothesay SR: Stranraer SY: Stornoway
TN: Troon TT: Tarbert, Loch Fyne UL: Ullapool
WK: Wick WN: Wigtown  

Other British Isles Fishing Boat Registration Letters
AB: Aberystwyth BE: Barnstaple BW: Barrow
BS: Beaumaris B: Belfast BK: Berwick on Tweed
BD: Bideford BH: Blyth BN: Boston
BR: Bridgwater BL: Bristol BM: Brixham
C: Cork CA: Cardigan CE: Coleraine
CF: Cardiff CH: Chester CK: Colchester
CL: Carlisle CO: Caernarfon CS: Cowes
CT: Castletown D: Arklow/Dublin DA: Drogheda
DH: Dartmouth DK: Dundalk DO: Douglas
DR: Dover E: Exeter F: Faversham
FD: Fleetwood FE: Folkestone FH: Falmouth
FY: Fowey G: Galway GE: Goole
GR: Gloucester GU: Guernsey GY: Grimsby
H: Hull HH: Harwich HL: Hartlepool
IH: Ipswich J: Jersey L: Limerick
LA: Llanelli LI: Littlehampton LL: Liverpool
LN: King's Lynn LO: London LR: Lancaster
LT: Lowestoft LY: Londonderry M: Milford Haven
MH: Middlesbrough MN: Maldon MR: Manchester
MT: Maryport N: Newry NE: Newcastle
NN: Newhaven NT: Newport, Gwent P: Portsmouth
PE: Poole PH: Plymouth PL: Peel
PN: Preston PT: Port Talbot PW: Padstow
PZ: Penzance R: Ramsgate RN: Runcorn
RR: Rochester RX: Rye RY: Ramsey
S: Skibbereen SA: Swansea SC: Scilly
SD: Sunderland SE: Salcombe SH: Scarborough
SM: Shoreham SN: North Shields SO: Sligo
SS: St Ives SSS: South Shields ST: Stockton
SU: Southampton T: Tralee TH: Teignmouth
TO: Truro W: Waterford WA: Whitehaven
WD: Wexford WH: Weymouth WI: Wisbech
WO: Workington WT: Westport WY: Whitby
YH: Great Yarmouth    

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