Situated in Minnesota, Lake Minnetonka is a widely favored recreational lake, distinguished as the state's largest in terms of volume. Renowned as a premier boating destination in the Midwest, it provides a diverse array of activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, and sailing. Lining its shores are numerous lakeside restaurants and resorts. The lake's expansive dimensions make it suitable for boats of varying sizes, ranging from small fishing vessels to spacious pontoon boats.

For all operators affiliated with Getmyboat, adherence to local regulations is mandatory. This includes securing appropriate registrations, passes, and permits, fulfilling vessel and captain requirements, utilizing authorized docks and designated boating areas for commercial activities, and complying with any other specifications outlined in local laws and facility regulations. To help Getmyboat operators comply with all applicable regulations, we have gathered the following essential details for boating in Lake Minnetonka:

Vessel Registration:

In Minnesota, registration with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is mandatory for all watercraft used on public waters, encompassing lakes, rivers, and streams. This requirement applies to various vessels, including boats, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts. Some exemptions exist, such as boats under 12 feet in length without a motor.

When engaging in for-hire or charter services, it is essential to register with the state of Minnesota under the designation “For Hire" or obtain documentation from the United States Coast Guard for commercial use. The license number must be visibly displayed on the hull along with a valid registration sticker.


Having sufficient insurance coverage is essential to safeguard your business against potential liabilities resulting from vessel operations. Our partner, Boat Charter Insurance, has the expertise to create a personalized insurance plan designed specifically to meet your individual needs.

Boater Education Certificate:

Individuals aged 12 to 17 must have a boater education certificate to operate a boat with an engine exceeding 25 horsepower in Minnesota without supervision. Additionally, education is necessary for those aged 14 to 17 who will be operating a personal watercraft (PWC) without supervision. More information can be found on the DNR website.

Master License:

A boat master license is required to navigate inland waters of Minnesota with a vessel powered by machinery or sails, carrying more than six passengers for hire. This license is granted by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). Individuals possessing a valid and current charter boat captain's license from the United States Coast Guard are recognized as licensed to carry passengers for hire in Minnesota, exempting them from obtaining the state's boat master license. Additional details can be accessed online or by reaching out to the DLI at or 651-284-5034.


The LMCD supervises the inspection of watercraft rentals and charter boats on Lake Minnetonka to ensure compliance with state and local regulations, prioritizing safety. Annual inspections cover a thorough examination of health and life safety components, along with a review of the operator's license and qualifications for all rental watercraft and charter boats. Charter boats undergo additional scrutiny to ensure adherence to specific safety regulations, including those related to fire extinguishers, life jackets, and bilge pumps. Prior approval from the LMCD is obligatory for the use of watercraft rentals and charter boats on Lake Minnetonka.Watercraft holding a valid inspection certificate from the are not subject to state inspection requirements.

For-Hire Permit(s):

In order to carry passengers for hire on Lake Minnetonka, acquiring a permit from the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) is essential. Depending on the nature of the services provided, additional permits may be necessary. Further details can be accessed on the LMCD website.

Pick Up/Drop Off:

Lake Minnetonka boasts numerous public boat launch areas, providing boaters with ample opportunities to access the lake. Most of these launches are free to use, while a select few may require a daily fee.

Additional Guidelines:

  • All watercraft and personal watercraft (PWCs) are required to operate at a maximum speed of 5 mph within 300 feet of the shore.
  • Maintain a distance of 150 feet from docks, anchored boats, swimmers, or scuba divers' warning flags throughout the lake.
  • PWCs are not allowed to operate within 200 feet of any swimming area or where swimming is prohibited.
  • Boaters are obligated to yield the right-of-way to sailboats and canoes/kayaks.
  • Renting out a personal watercraft involves providing the renter with a comprehensive overview of governing laws and regulations, accompanied by clear instructions on safe operation practices.
  • The LMCD and/or Sheriff will determine the maximum number of passengers and crew for hire boats, as outlined in the inspection report.

Helpful Resources:

Please note that this information serves as a general outline of boating regulations on Lake Minnetonka. It does not necessarily cover all applicable rules and permits. Specific regulations may vary depending on the activity being undertaken. For a more comprehensive understanding of the regulations, please consult the DNR and the LMCD.