Register Canoe in BWCA

I guess one has to register a boat in Mn if they want to paddle in Mn. I hate the idea of stickers on my boat! How big is the fine if I have the registration stickers, but fail to put them on the boat, just have them handy in a pack? Is this a huge deal? In WI, we only register boats if they are motorized. I just hate the idea of sticks on my canoe.


i hate buying them
Being a mn resident and with a small fleet on boats at 21.50 ever few year, it adds up. Have a friend that doesn’t register his but hasn’t been stopped yet so I don’t know what the fine is .in the bwca you are more likely to run in to usfs people than mn dnr ,I don’t know if the usfs even cares about boat registration .last time they stopped me the only thing they cared about was our permit and if our camp was clean. I wonder if you are exempt from registration being you are not a resident as long as you have proof you are from Wisconsin, you could check with mn dmv or mn dnr


here you go

see page 1

No exemptions
There are no exemptions - you either have to register your canoe in your home state, as if it were going to used as a motor boat(which may be cheaper than in MN) or in MN. I was stopped and checked once on Seagull L, heading up to Saganaga L. If I recall correctly, it was a DNR guy - that lake allows motor boats and he was out checking on everybody.

I’ve been checked
I’ve been check by the DNR on Lake Superior. They checked both sides of my kayak, were very apologetic , and then I eased the situation, and we talked about my wooden kayak for about 30 minutes.

On my SOFs, I have to hang the registration sticker over the side of the kayaks off of the grab loops, because the stickers won’t stick. A friend of mine does the same on his sailboat, because he didn’t want to mess up his new paint job. I’ve gotten approval to do this from the DNR.

So, you could put the sticker on some hard plastic and tie a loop to it and hang it over the side if you didn’t want the sticker on your craft.

An exception?
“watercraft currently registered in another state and not kept in Minnesota for more than 90 consecutive days”

I buy PA Fish Commission launch permits for all of my boats. While I live in WV, we have no registration system for non-powered watercraft. And I am in PA often enough that I do not want to play hide-and-seek with the conservation officers.

I assume this would pass in MN.


My assumption is that it would not pass
If your watercraft isn’t registered, it’s not registered. Many states that don’t require registration have voluntary registration. Wisconsin is like that.

If I were a Wisconsin resident, that is the way I’d go. It is a bit cheaper than Minnesota, the sticker is much smaller, and my state would get the funds. You got to be careful though. Many registration places in Wisconsin don’t see many voluntary registrations and they may try to make you do the motorized thing. That is not only more expensive but also requires numbers to be attached to the hull. I don’t remember off hand what it is called but there is a voluntary canoe registration that costs something like $12 for 3 years, small sticker, no numbers.

I, too, like Bryan, have heard of COs cutting some slack as far not having the registration permentantly attached (like on the removal piece of plastic). I think it is up to the discression of the individual. A good reason to be nice with your interaction. I have a friend that has done this because of his nice stripper that he didn’t want the sticker on.

BWCA & WI boats
I’m a WI resident, and downloaded the right forms from the WI DNR website a few years back when we went to Ely. I wrote the check & sent everything in, and waited and waited. Luckily I made copies of everything, and that’s what I took to MN with me. Never got stopped, no problems.

But quite awhile after we got back, I got all my registration mat’ls back from the WI DNR, asking for the Federal Tax Number of the seller holding the lein on the canoe. There was no lein, as was stated on the form… And of course, the DNR had cashed my check. I wrote back and told them to forget it, it was too late, and eventually I got a refund.

The last time we went to Ely, I sent in everything, and had a registration sticker and assigned numbers in a very short time, for under $10.00 WI. I took everything along, not wanting to decorate the canoe. Again, no problems.

No Minnesota trip this year, Ontario instead. The only goofy regulations up there are Crownland camping permits for us Yanks, at $10.00 per person per night. Makes canoe registration seem pretty cheap!

Canoecopia is coming! Hope to meet some of the regulars there.

cYa, Jim

It seems like Mn want to discourage
paddling tourists. I was thinking of bringing my canoe when I have to travel east to Chicago on family business and possibly doing some paddling in Mn. Oregon doesn’t require a registration for non-motorized craft. I don’t want to register my canoe for $21 for a possible a few days of paddling. I guess I’ll just stay out of the state and paddle elsewhere.


– Last Updated: Feb-22-07 1:31 PM EST –

You have to have your canoe registered in some (not necessarily MN) state to take it into the BW. Heavy fine if not. Mn sticker is not real big and you don't have to put numerals on your canoe like some states. Plus MN is relatively low in cost compared to some othe rstates. I know people who paid the fine and it is a lot. Get the address off the net. Not a big deal. Don't wait too long, it takes a bit of time through the mail.


– Last Updated: Feb-23-07 9:33 AM EST –

Registration gives an official record of the ownership of the canoe, just like registering your car. Your car has a VIN, your canoe has a HIN. Imagine the chaos if your car wasn't registered with theft, etc.

There are a lot of canoes in Minnesota. What if your Souris River ended up on the car next to your's while you were in a resturant? With no proof of ownership the cops would probably go with the old "possession is 9/10s of the law".

Registation, even if not displaying a sticker, puts it on an official database than can be checked by officials to determine ownership.

Iowa and Illinois
Don’t plan on paddling in Iowa or Illinois either, because they also require registration. Or, if you do, be careful not to run into the law.

Proof of ownership
Your comments got me to thinking about that. I think I will keep a copy of the sales receipt for my boats in my car with it’s registration.


Get serious, KenE. In over 30 years
of paddling in the SE, I have never known a situation where “vehicle registration” would have done ANYTHING for the canoe owner. It only enriches the state, and supports motorboating. How would you like to have to register multiple shotguns and rifles, or multiple fishing rods?

I am not necessarily against licensing, but it should be like fishing and hunting, with the license applying to the person, not to every piece of equipment the person owns.

WI paddler in BWCA
I got checked by game wardens in BWCA and a member of my group had a WI canoe with no registration. The warden ticketed him( with argument) but I could see that he was fuzzy of the law for sure but he wrote him up anyway. Later the WI resident found out that he did NOT have to pay the fine. The canoe was legal in WI and was legal in BWCA.

I’m not sure what your point is
but it is a registration and not a license. Minnesota requires a canoe to be registered not licensed. It can be done at the DNR main office in St. Paul, but by enlarged it is handled like a car. Official dealers can register your new canoe at the time of purchase, otherwise it must be taken to the MN DOT local registar of Motor Vehicles, not the DNR or Bait shop, etc. where they sell licenses.

I admit that a large reason for doing this is to insure that the state gets its cut of the pie in the form of sales tax. That’s why a new registration is done in person and not online. You have to prove you either paid sales tax or you pay the sales tax there. How do they know how much to charge you? By looking at the receipt for the amount you paid for it. This has the added benefit of also recording the official owner of the canoe.

If you had multiple cars you’d have to register them, right? The person is not registered and then able to own as many vehicles as he likes, right?

Minnesota does not require registation of shotguns and rifles, or multiple fishing rods, or paddles, PFDs, nor bailing sponges.

They do, however, require fishing and hunting licenses, as well as driver’s licenses, but not a licence to operate a canoe.

I’m just trying to help.
He may not have to have paid the fine, but that doesn’t mean the canoe was/is “legal” in MN. I agree that it is/was legal in WI. He probably got a nice break from the judge or prosecutor. I’m glad. I’m not advocating ticketing out-of-staters. I’m merely pointing out the law so that someone doesn’t get a fine (which goes to the State of MN) because they didn’t know to spend $14 for a 3-year WI registration before they got to MN. I’m just trying to help.

Why should a state get a “cut” of sales
tax?? The efforts of states to do that with respect to autos are HATED by car owners.

My argument is that any registration should be by the USER, not by the boat. I would not mind paying a reasonable out-of-state fee to paddle in MN, although I can tell you that if they want to maximize tax from tourism, they ought NOT to levy fees on visitors.

Most licensing and registration laws are short-sighted. They hurt in-staters, they hurt visitors, and they do little for the money-hungry agencies that have to impose them.

One of the HIGHEST freedoms is the freedom to travel unimpeded and enjoy the rivers, mountains, and forests that truly belong to ALL OF US.

Don’t see what the big deal is

– Last Updated: Mar-01-07 3:45 PM EST –

I don't see what the big deal is. I live in Missouri, don't have to register the canoe in MO (although, technically anything over 16 feet does, but a conservation agent told me they don't bother non-motorized canoes), and I register mine easily via the mail in Minnesota so I can use it unhasseled in MN. Also, the cost is not much for a two year sticker (cheaper then MO) and the money goes for a good cause (I mean you do ride on MN roads, launch at MN sites, appreciate their scenery, etc. The sticker is "small" and in MN you do not have to display the numbers (just the sticker) on the canoe like you do in IL (where I used to live). Besides, the MN sticker makes for good conversations here in MO.

Tip - one thing I also did was take photos of the canoe (among other things) and id number and keep those around the house just in case the canoe gets ripped off and I file a police report.

How would you know that you need
to register a kayak/canoe if you are from out of state?