There’s nothing like the excitement of a new boat purchase. It opens a whole new world of adventure, especially in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes! But before you plan that first outing, it’s essential to have everything you need to ensure a perfect day on the lake.


We’re sure you’ve already spoken with your insurance agent about boat insurance and, if you haven’t, that’s the first step you should take before making plans. Making sure the boat was in good operating condition is a part of the process of buying a boat, so you’re covered on that end. If you’re a follower of our blog, you're up-to-date on the importance of purchasing a cover for your boat and staying comfortable on the lake, so you’ve purchased a boat cover and picked out accessories like bimini tops. But you may still be confused about whether you need a license to operate a boat in your state, so today we’ll be looking at the basics of boat licenses.

State by State Regulations

The first thing to know about getting a boat license or boat operator’s permit is that boat requirements vary from one state to the next. Most states have basic requirements in order to operate a boat, but some do not. You’ll need to research your state’s requirements to find out what they are; a good place to start is the American Boating Association. It’s crucial to read up on the regulations of your state because you must understand and follow those regulations as a boat owner. Failure to do so can result in an expensive citation or cause an accident. Your state department of natural resources should have a page dedicated to water regulations. Minnesota boaters can find information on our boating regulations here.

Boat Operators Age 12-17

In Minnesota, a watercraft operator’s permit is not required for adults to drive a boat. However, special regulations do apply to underage individuals who plan to drive a motorized boat over 25 horsepower. These individuals need to obtain a Minnesota Watercraft Operator’s Permit by completing an online boating safety course. They may also legally operate a boat vessels of 25 horsepower or lower without a watercraft operator’s permit.


If the individual has already obtained an operator’s permit in another state, this is also sufficient to meet the legal requirements in Minnesota. Learning materials to study for the permit are available from local sheriff’s offices or online.

Boat Operators Under 12

Although individuals under the age of 12 are unable to obtain an operator’s permit, they are able, by law, to operate any motorized boat of 25 horsepower or less. If the individual is under  the direct supervision of an adult 21 years old, they may operate any boat up to 75 horsepower. However, these individuals may not operate a boat of more than 75 horsepower under any circumstances.


Adult Boat Operators

As we noted above, in Minnesota, adults are not required to have a special license to operate a boat. However, completing an online boating safety course can lower the insurance rates on your boat. Keeping up to date on your state’s boating is your responsibility, so be sure to brush up on them every year. Failure to do so could result in an expensive ticket or injury.

Reporting an Accident

In addition to understanding boat licensing laws, you also need to abide by legal requirements to report a boat accident. If you are involved in a boat accident, you are legally required to render aid to all involved individuals unless doing so would endanger your own crew, passengers, or boat.


After securing everyone’s safety, you must, by law, report the accident to a sheriff as soon as possible if any of the following occur:


●        Total loss of boat

●        Personal injury

●        Damages of $2000 or more

●        Fatality


Finally, boat operators are required to provide any affected property owners or boat owners with their boat registration number and legal name and address. If the operator and owner are not the same, both are required to give that information.

Minnesota Heavy-Duty Boat Covers and More

Once you’ve made sure everyone is ready to go and learned the laws in your state, it’s time to equip your boat with the right accessories for a perfect boat ride. At Canvasworks, we custom manufacture a complete range of marine products including boat canopies, boat upholstery, and heavy-duty boat covers. To order yours, call 320-559-0165 or contact us online to connect with a member of our team today.