In order to operate a charter or watercraft for hire business, the operation must be registered with the LMCD and meet certain health and safety requirements. The following information is a guide to help you start a business to operate a charter/watercraft for hire. For specific information, please contact the agency referenced for the item. Other requirements may apply depending on your final application and specific operations. We appreciate the businesses who meet the requirements and conduct safe operations for the enjoyment and protection of the public.
Highlight of License Requirements
- Watercraft for Hire Registration. (LMCD Code 7-1.01) A Watercraft for Hire registration must be obtained to provide charter or captain services. The watercraft for hire, alcoholic beverage, and other requirements apply to special events, temporary operations, a single event, or similar.
As part of the application process, the watercraft manufacturer specifications sheet must be provided to verify occupancy, toilet/sanitary specifications, etc.
- Commercial Dock License. (LMCD Code 3-1.03) The watercraft must be berthed (stored) at a licensed commercial site. The property will need to meet all applicable requirements such as dock use area, setbacks, density, safe navigation, etc. A public hearing is required as part of this application process. If you choose a licensed marina or multiple dock facility, it must be suitable to accept a charter boat.
- Ports-of-Call. The requested ports-of-call, where passengers are picked-up and dropped-off, must be approved. The city also must approve the location. A port-of-call may not be a residential property.
- Alcohol License. (LMCD Code 7-3.03 et al) A license is required if the charter services allow the keeping, use, or sale of alcoholic beverages. At minimum, a Display and Consumption License is required to allow the keeping and use of alcohol on the watercraft. If the services include providing alcoholic beverages to the customers, other license types are required such as On-Sale and Sunday Sales depending on the types and operation. A background check and public hearing is required as part of the process.
- Mandatory Training. (LMCD Code 7-3.15) All licensees and/or their authorized representatives are required to attend the LMCD training regarding alcoholic beverage regulations. Training is held typically in April. This meeting also explains the coordination of the required watercraft inspections.
- Miscellaneous. Other regulations for adult entertainment, music, etc. may apply depending on the operation.
- Business Filing and Insurance. While LMCD does not specifically require an operation to be a registered business with the State of Minnesota Secretary of State (although highly recommended), a Tax Identification Number is required to obtain an alcoholic beverage license, along with the appropriate insurance amounts. Workers Compensation declaration also applies.
State, County, & City Requirements
- Boat Master License. A boat master license is required when a boat for hire is carrying more than six passengers. This includes if person hired to provide captain services for someone else’s boat. MN DOLI Webpage
- Safety Inspection and Dry Dock Inspection. A dry dock (out of water) inspection is required by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MN DOLI). A physical inspection of the watercraft is also required by the MN DOLI after placed in the water including review of the boiler system if applicable. MN DOLI Webpage
- Water Patrol Safety Inspection. (MN Rule 5225.6140) An inspection of the watercraft is required by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol (HCSO) that includes a physical inspection for health and life safety items. A copy of the inspection form provides general information.
- Food/Beverage Requirements. The Hennepin County Environmental Services Department may require a license and/or inspection if food or beverages are provided for the customers. Hennepin County Environmental Services Webpage
- City Zoning. Applicants should contact the city that regarding zoning requirements regarding a business or berth location. The information will be verified with the city as part of the LMCD license process. City Links
Please be advised that violations of certain associated regulations may preclude a party’s eligibility to be registered as a Watercraft-for-Hire or receive an alcoholic beverage/liquor license. Further, a party may be liable for any accidents, injuries, or other negative impacts related to an unlicensed and negligent operation.