Minnesota Boating Requirements
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This summary is designed to inform the boating public about title options, registration requirements, recording methods, record searches, tax rules, and operational guidelines for the State of Minnesota. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing knowledge and experiences with this particular jurisdiction. Simply click on the above WikiShare link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.
Registration and Titling
Minnesota issues registrations and titles for all boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered through the Department of Natural Resources. The home office in located in St. Paul. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in this state. Registration is required for boat trailers in Minnesota. Titling is required on those weighing over 4,500 lbs. or when a lien is present. It is optional on all other boat trailers.
Minnesota registers all boats except non-motorized watercraft 9' or less in length, a ships lifeboat, duck boats during the duck hunting season, and rice boats during the harvest season. Coast Guard documented vessels are exempt from registration.
There are approximately 819,377 boats registered in the State of Minnesota. This accounts for 6.9% of all nationwide registrations.
Numbering and Marking
Minnesota boat registration numbers begin with an "MN" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented boats along with registration sticker tabs. Coast Guard documented vessels may not display the state registration numbers. However they must display an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. An official documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.
All vessels manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "MNZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The hull identification number must be inspected by a Minnesota law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy.
Minnesota issues titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard documented. This state does not have provisions for bonded or conditional boat titles where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. Under these circumstances, ownership will need to be established through an award from a court of proper jurisdiction.
Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Natural Resources. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or USCG documented are recorded with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records, recorded as UCC filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk's office. There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against state titled boats.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest must be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center and priority is attained according to the date filed. Other maritime liens can be filed in the same manner although they function as notifications only. All mortgage and lien filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.
Boat registration and title records in Minnesota are maintained in a database which is administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Such data is available to boat owners and certain entitled parties. Insights on how to go about searching the database and requesting boat registration, title, and historical records can be found in WikiTags.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State. However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings.
Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for USCG documented vessels can be obtained by ordering an abstract of title and a copy of the certificate of documentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center. However, these are encoded and can be difficult to interpret, especially on older vessels with numerous recordings. It may be worthwhile to contact a professional vessel title company for assistance in this regard.
Taxes and Insurance
Sales tax applies to boat transactions in Minnesota. Visit the Department of Revenue website link in WikiTags for additional information.
Liability insurance is not required for boats operating on Minnesota waters.
Operating and Safety
Transfers and abandonments of boats must reported within 15 days.
Boater Education is required for all persons between 12 and 17 years of age who operate a powered watercraft on Minnesota waters.
The information contained herein is subject to change without notice and may contain errors or omissions. Be sure to check with the respective government agency before taking action on any such data. More detailed information about all of these topics can be found in the above WikiTags.
Credits and References
4/4/2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.