Licensing Process for Minnesota guide and outfitters changed

CLEVELAND – A U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters working group has identified strategies aimed at promoting awareness and compliance with licensing requirements for Operators of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV), while ensuring a sensible level of public safety and security.

Uninspected Passenger Vessels are motorized vessels that carry one to six passengers, and not passenger operations on unpowered canoes or drift-boats.

Although the Coast Guard cannot waive federal law, which requires operators who carry passengers for hire aboard a boat on federally navigable waters to hold a Coast Guard issued OUPV license, these strategies will bring some relief to the licensing process for Minnesota guides and outfitters.

The following efforts will be enacted in an effort to improve OUPV licensing compliance and public safety:

  • Administer OUPV license exams in Minnesota. This effort should eliminate the need for interested parties to travel to St. Louis, Mo., or Toledo, Ohio, which are the nearest licensing facilities in order to take an exam. Some locations already identified as possible exam sites include the Ely, Chisholm, and International Falls areas. Other areas may be added in proportion with public demand. Exact locations and dates will be published as soon as they are available.
  • No course prerequisite. Those seeking to obtain an OUPV license are required to take a Coast Guard exam, but do not have to take a Coast Guard approved OUPV course. However, even though not required, there are approved courses that can be taken in lieu of an examination administered by the Coast Guard. Interested parties are encouraged to ask their local Coast Guard office about the various options available for obtaining an OUPV license.
  • Provide the option for modified licenses. This change reduces financial and administrative burdens associated with compliance by appropriately tailoring license requirements for mariners operation in geographically restricted waterways. In addition to a full operator’s license, there are two alternatives available: a restricted OUPV license that limits operations to a specific geographic location; or a limited OUPV license for those that are employed by organizations such as yacht clubs, marinas and educational institutions, and limits the operations to the specific activity and locality.

Operators interested in getting a Coast Guard license must first obtain a Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) from the Transportation Security Administration before the Coast Guard can issue a license. The Coast Guard cannot waive this federal requirement. The TWIC program is administered by TSA, and information on obtaining a TWIC can be found at: or call 1-866-347-8942. Operators must also comply with current drug and alcohol testing regulations.

“We are here to help you get a license, but we cannot help you operate without one.” said Lt. Cmdr. Dean Firing, Ninth Coast Guard District Chief of Inspections and Investigations Branch.

These licensing laws are currently in effect, and current operators of uninspected passenger vessels who do not hold a valid operator license are encouraged to work with their local Coast Guard Sector or Officer in Charge of Marine Inspections.

Both the Eighth and Ninth Coast Guard Districts have responsibilities in the State of Minnesota, essentially dividing the state in half.

For residents of southern Minnesota, please contact Marine Safety Detachment St. Paul at 612-725-1871.

For residents in the northern part of the state, including Mille Lacs, please contact Marine Safety Unit Duluth at 218-720-5286.

The approximate costs to be incurred by the individual mariner for each alternative are as follows:

OUPV (non-restricted) Limited OUPV OUPV Restricted
TWIC*1 $132.50 $132.50 $132.50
USCG Application/Issuance Fees *4 $145.00 $145.00 $145.00
CPR & First Aid Training *4 $ 60.00 $ 60.00*3 $ 60.00*3
Physical Examination $100.00 $100.00 $100.00
Drug Test $ 49.00 $ 49.00 $ 49.00
USCG Examination Fee *4 $ 95.00*2 $ 95.00 $ 95.00*2
USCG Approved OUPV Course $750.00*2 $500.00*2
Safe Boating Course $ 30.00
TOTAL $581.50 or $1,236.50*2 $551.50*3or $611.50 $521.50*3, $581.50, or $986.50*2

*1 TSA collects fingerprints and background information during TWIC enrollment and provides this information to the Coast Guard in order to complete documentation for the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). The Coast Guard is not currently set up to collect mariner fingerprints and to complete certain functions performed by TSA as part of the TWIC evaluation. If a TWIC is not required, alternative arrangements for these functions would be studied and may result in additional costs.

*2 Mariners must complete a Coast Guard examination OR an approved course may be taken in lieu of examination.

*3 CPR & first aid training required when medical services are not readily available in a reasonable time.

*4 Fees collected by the Coast Guard.

Additional information on licensing can be found at For more information on the Coast Guard’s passenger vessel safety program, go to

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