Minnesota Passes Landmark Mandatory Boater Education Legislation

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, May, 31 – The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) celebrates the successful passage of Mandatory Boater Education Legislation in its home state of Minnesota. This landmark legislation marks a significant step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of boaters and all who enjoy aquatic recreation throughout the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The new law, signed May 24, 2023, by Governor Walz, uses a phase-in approach to eventually require nearly every boater in Minnesota to complete a boater-education course and obtain a boater-education card before operating a motorized watercraft. The legislation is the result of collaborative efforts between the recreational boating industry, boating safety advocates and lawmakers who recognized the importance of promoting safe boating practices throughout Minnesota. The MRAA aligned with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Water Sports Industry Association and local Minnesota stakeholders to successfully pass the bill.

“It is important to recognize the leadership of Senators Hawj, Morrison and Hoffman and Representatives Koegel, Brand and Myers for being champions of this important legislation, fighting for its inclusion in this year’s Environment Omnibus Bill, and ultimately getting it passed” said Chad Tokowicz, MRAA Government Relations Manager. “These elected officials put boating safety first and prioritized keeping all Minnesotans safe while on the water.”

Boater education courses provide beneficial instruction on navigation rules, safe boating practices, emergency procedures and environmental responsibility. Minnesota, through this mandated education, is taking proactive measures to reduce accidents and fatalities on its waterways, ensuring a safer recreational boating experience for everyone. Boater education is required in 36 U.S. states and passage of this legislation in Minnesota is long overdue.

Head shot of MRAA President Matt Gruhn in a blue collared shirt in front of wood backdrop
Matt Gruhn, MRAA President

“In a state with more than 800,000 registered boats and a strong on-the-water heritage, mandatory boater education is a logical step in ensuring the safety of the boating public while creating an overall safer boating community,” said Matt Gruhn, MRAA President. “It was crucial for the future of recreational boating and fishing in Minnesota to get this across the finish line. We will now work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in overseeing the rollout of the program to ensure it is not overly burdensome for dealers.”

Mandatory boater education in Minnesota will use a phased-in approach, and by 2028 will require anyone born on or after July 1, 1987 to pass a course and receive a boater education certificate. The program will go into effect beginning on July 1, 2025, requiring anyone born on or after July 1, 2004, to take the course. The program must be approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), meaning out-of-state boaters who have passed an NASBLA-approved course can legally operate a boat in Minnesota. The Minnesota course, available online and in-person, will be offered by a variety of providers.

To learn the specifics of the legislation, read our blog or contact MRAA Government Relations Manager, Chad Tokowicz at chad@mraa.com.

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas At the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, we believe that for the marine industry to thrive, the retail organizations that interact with the boaters in their community must thrive. With that in mind, MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those retailers, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, visit MRAA.com or contact us at 763-315-8043.