Boat registration in Minnesota is a process similar to motor vehicle registration. Watercraft enthusiasts cannot register a boat online, however, they may visit any Deputy Registrar of Motor Vehicles location to complete the process. The process is fairly simple, but you must have knowledge of the physical dimensions of your boat, since they will determine your registration fees. If you are the owner of a boat, and you need to complete the registration process, you can learn more in the sections below.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Minnesota

You will need to undergo new boat registration if you own a new watercraft that is less than 16 feet in length. The correct placement of registration decals can be found in the state boating guide, which can be downloaded at the Minnesota state website. Although you cannot register your boat online, you may choose to do so in person. If you intend to register in person, you will need to take the following steps first:

  1. Print and fill out the Water Title & Registration Application (can be downloaded from state website).
  2. Submit the sales tax receipt you received during the purchase of your boat, along with the required fee and application at any Deputy Registrar of Motor Vehicles in your community.

If you prefer to mail in your boat registration materials, they should be sent to the DNR License Center in St. Paul. Once you complete the in-person or mail registration process, you will receive your registration materials in the mail a few days later. If you purchase a boat that is more than 16 feet in length, the retailer will complete the registration process on your behalf. You must also register your canoes or kayaks in person.

Exemptions From Registration and Titling in Minnesota

Before you begin the boat registration process in Minnesota, it is helpful to know what can and cannot be registered. You must register all motorized and non-motorized vessels. However, documented vessel registration is not required for the following types of boats.

  • Lifeboats
  • Documented vessels
  • Government-owned watercraft
  • Seaplanes
  • Rice boats
  • Duck boats

You do not need to complete registration if you will be in possession of a watercraft that has been registered in another state for less than 90 days. Individuals are also not required to register vessels from foreign countries that they will be in possession of for less than 90 days. Canoe registration must be handled with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota Boat Insurance

After registering a boat in Minnesota, it would be wise to obtain insurance from a private company, because your boat will not be protected from natural or man-made disasters if you do not have insurance coverage. If you register a boat online, you can also shop for the right boat insurance policy afterwards. Similar to an auto insurance policy, it is important to note that your insurance rates can be lower if you complete a safety course first.

Minnesota Boat Registration Fees

 When registering a boat in Minnesota, you will be required to pay a fee depending on the size and nature of your vessel. Boat registration fees are higher for larger vessels and cheaper for smaller ones. In addition to the base fee, you will need to pay a small issuing fee and invasive aquatic species charge as well. Below is the base fee schedule for some of the more popular types of watercraft:

  • Personal Watercraft – $37.50
  • Kayaks, Canoes, and Sailboats – $10.50
  • Small Pleasure Craft (Less than 17 feet long) – $18
  • Leased or Rented Personal Watercraft – $37.50
  • Commercial Vessel Registration – $75

If you are registering a boat by mail, you must send a check made payable to the Deputy Registrar of Motor Vehicles – cash will not be accepted. If you register in person, you may pay with a check, cash or a major credit card. The issuing fee changes periodically, so boaters will need to check the Minnesota state website for a current fee schedule. Fees for larger and less common watercraft can also be found on the same site. Boaters who still do not know how to register a boat can study for their boating safety exam beforehand.

Renewing Your Minnesota Boat Registration

Your Minnesota boat registration is valid for a period of three years and will expire on December 31 of the last year. Unlike the initial registration, you can renew your current registration online or in person. If you wish to complete your boat registration renewal online, you should utilize the online licensing system at the Department of Natural Resources website. You can also renew your registration in person at any Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) office in the state.

Replacing Your Minnesota Boat Registration

If you misplace or lose your MN boat registration, it is possible to have it replaced. You will need your registration numbers, hull identification number (HIN) and a physical description of your boat on hand. You will receive your new boat registration once you visit a DNR licensing center or mail the documents to the official DNR License Center in St. Paul.

Boater Safety Courses in Minnesota

After completing the MN registration process, you will have the option to take a safety education class. Even if you have a boat registration, you will need to complete this course if you wish to receive your operator permit. After you finish registering a boat, you may take an approved course either online on in person. Before you enroll, be sure that your course is approved by the Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota Boater Licenses

Even if a boat has undergone vessel registration in Minnesota, it must be operated by a responsible individual. After boat registration, parents must be sure that their child obtains an operator permit if he or she is between 12 and 17 years of age and intends to operate a watercraft with more than 25HP unsupervised. If a minor is under the age of 12, he or she is only allowed to operate watercraft with 25 HP or less unsupervised. If a 12 to 17 does not have an operator license, he or she must be accompanied by an individual over the age of 21.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.