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What are boats-for-hire? 

A boat-for-hire is any vessel navigating inland waters of Minnesota that is propelled by machinery or sails and is carrying more than six passengers for hire. 

Do they need permits and inspections?

Yes. A permit to carry passengers for hire is issued to a boat that satisfies Minnesota's inspection requirements. All boats-for-hire must have an annual safety inspection, while the vessel is in the water, prior to carrying passengers for hire (Minnesota Rules 5225.6140).

Boats constructed with wooden hulls must have a dry dock inspection annually.  

Boats with composite or metal hulls must have a dry dock inspection every three years (Minnesota Rules 5225.6140). 

Vessels operating with a current inspection certificate issued by the United States Coast Guard are exempt from the state inspection requirements. 

Safety inspections, fees and additional information

New in 2021:  Boat owners will be assessed the $200 annual operating and safety inspection fee on April 1. If we have your email address on file, you will be notified that the fee is due along with instructions about how to make a payment online. If not paid within 10 days, an invoice will be mailed to you. Completing an application for the annual operating permit is only required if you have a NEW boat. Once payment is made, contact your inspector to request an inspection.

Who can operate boats-for-hire? 

Any individual who has a current boat master's license issued by us. The only exception is when the individual operating the boat-for-hire has a valid, current Charter Boat Captain's license issued by the United States Coast Guard.

Statues and rules

Minnesota Statutes 326B.94 and Minnesota Rules 5225.6000 through 5225.7200 govern the requirements of boat owners and operators carrying passengers for hire on Minnesota's inland waters. They adopt the most relevant and appropriate U.S. Coast Guard requirements for boats operating in fresh water and inland bodies of water.