Boat Registration and Licenses in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) oversees the titling and registration of all vessels. On this page, we'll outline the steps to titling and registering your boat AND the qualifications you need to operate watercraft on MN waters.

MN Boats Requiring Registration

The Minnesota DNR requires the following types of vessels to be registered:

  • All motorized watercraft.
  • All non-motorized vessels more than 10 ft. in length.

The following types of watercraft are exempt from registration with the MN DNR:

  • Vessels currently registered in another state used in Minnesota for no more than 90 consecutive days
  • Boats from another country kept in Minnesota for no more than 90 consecutive days
  • U.S. government-owned vessels (except those used for recreational purposes).
  • Documented vessels.
  • Ship's lifeboat.
  • Duck boats used during duck hunting season.
  • Rice boats used during the harvest season.
  • Seaplanes.

If you still aren't positive about whether your boat requires registration, call the MN Department of Natural Resources at (651) 296-6157.

Vessels Requiring a MN Title

The DNR requires certain vessels over 16 ft. in length to have a Minnesota title.

Exceptions to this rule include:

  • Boats registered out-of-state, being used in MN for more than 90 days.
  • Vessels manufactured before August 1, 1979.
  • Watercraft measuring 16 ft. or less.
  • Rowboats with oar locks that have an outboard motor with less than 40 HP.
  • Documented vessels.
  • Canoes and kayaks.
  • Lifeboats.
  • Waterfowl boats used during the hunting season.
  • Rice boats operating during the harvesting season.
  • Vessels owned by manufacturers up for sale OR used only for testing purposes.
  • Boats owned by a licensed resort or recreational area.
  • Rowing shell or scull.
  • Watercraft owned by an entity of the U.S. government.

Call the MN Department of Natural Resources at (651) 296-6157 if you aren't sure if your boat requires titling.

Title & Register Your Boat in MN

For new boat purchases, if the vessel is greater than 16 ft. long, the dealer will handle the registration and titling processes for you.

For all other watercraft, you must title and register the vessel with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources within 15 days of purchasing the boat.

Begin by gathering:

Then, submit the required items above:

  • In person at any Minnesota DVS office.
    • You'll receive your vessel's title and registration certificates and decals on the spot.
  • By mail to:
    • DNR License Center
    • 500 Lafayette Road
    • St. Paul, MN 55155

Your boat registration will be valid for 3 years.

MN Boat Title & Registration Fees

You could be expected to pay the following fees for title and registration with the MN Department of Natural Resources:

  • Original/renewal registration for:
    • Canoes, kayaks, sailboats (sailboats 19 ft. or less in length), sailboards, rowing shells, paddle boards, and paddle boats: $23 PLUS $10.60 aquatic invasive species surcharge.
    • Personal watercraft: $85 PLUS $10.60 aquatic invasive species surcharge.
    • Watercraft used for pleasure (depends on length of vessel):
      • Under 17 ft.: $36
      • 17 to 19 ft.: $59
      • Over 19 ft. to under 26 ft.: $113
      • 26 ft. to under 40 ft.: $164
      • 40 ft. and over: $209 PLUS 
        • For all of the above, you must also pay a $10.60 aquatic invasive species fee.
  • Vessel title all issued titles require an additional $7 issuance fee.
    • Original title: $15.
    • Duplicate title: $4.
    • Transfer: $10.
    • Per lien:
      • Added: $10.
      • Released: Free.
      • Reassigned: $1.
    • Sales tax: Varies according to your MN county of residence—use the Department of Revenue's sales tax calculator for an idea of what you might owe.
  • Vessel registration issuing fees. ALL registration transactions require an issuing fee:
    • New OR transferring registration: $8.50.
    • Registration renewal AND transfer: $4.50 PLUS $8.50.
    • Renewal OR duplicate registration certificate/decals: $6.
  • Duplicate:
    • Registration certificate: $4.50 + issuing fee.
    • Registration decal: Free + issuing fee.

Minnesota Boat Registration Renewals

Boat registrations are valid for 3 years, and expire on December 31 of the final year. The Minnesota DNR will mail you a renewal notice just before the expiration date.

To renew your vessel's registration, provide information about your boat AND the appropriate renewal fees:

Duplicate MN Boat Titles & Registrations

If your boat title or registration is lost or destroyed, you'll need to request a duplicate.

To request a duplicate boat registration, you'll need to know your vessel's:

  • Registration number.
  • Hull identification number (HIN).
  • Physical description.

Provide the information above along with the necessary registration replacement fees:

To apply for a replacement vessel title, you'll need to mail a completed Application for Duplicate Watercraft Title (REV 2014) AND the applicable duplicate title fees to the address on the form.

MN Boater Qualifications

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources imposes certain age restrictions when it comes to operating motorized vessels on state waters. If you are:

  • Under 12 years old, you:
    • Can operate motorboats with 25 HP or less unsupervised.
    • Must be accompanied by a supervisor at least 21 years old to operate vessels 25 to 75 HP.
    • CANNOT operate watercraft with more than 75 HP (regardless of supervision).
  • 12 to 17 years old:
    • You can use vessels with 25 HP or less without supervision.
    • For watercraft over 25 HP you must either:
      • Have a watercraft operator's permit to operate the vessel unsupervised.
      • Have a supervisor with you who's at least 21 years old.

To earn your watercraft operator's permit, you'll need to complete a boating safety course. The DNR allows you to fulfill the education requirement:

Even if you aren't required to take a boater safety course, you should still consider the benefits of completing one—not only will you make Minnesota's waters safer, but you may also be able to get a discount on your boat insurance rates.

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review