Docks and Access in Public Waters

Docks, those narrow structures used for getting to deeper water, are commonly used on Minnesota lakes and rivers. For many docks, no permit is needed to install, construct, or reconstruct on shoreline property. For certain docks, a general permit may be used. There are many options, and we recommend that landowners use the smallest and narrowest dock that will reasonably meet their water access needs.

Do I need a permit for my dock?

No permit is needed to install, construct, or reconstruct your dock on shoreline property you own if you comply with the following:

  • No area of the dock is wider than 8 feet.
  • The dock is not combined with other similar structures to create a larger structure.
  • The dock is no longer than needed to achieve its intended use, including reaching navigable water depth.
  • The dock is not a hazard to navigation, health, or safety.
  • The dock will allow the free flow of water beneath it.
  • The dock is not used as a marina.
  • The dock is consistent with guidelines of the local government.
  • Docks placed on rock-filled cribs are located only on waters where the bed is predominantly bedrock.

illustration of the information under Do I need a permit

General Permit 2008-0401

General Permit 2008-0401 is for docks with a platform area up to 120 square feet (not including walkway) OR a platform area up to 170 square feet (including walkway).

The dock leading out to the platform must be 5 feet or less in width and the dock must be on a lake with a shoreland classification of General Development or Recreational Development.

illustration of the information under General Permit 2008-0401

How to Use General Permit 2008-0401
If the requirements of General Permit 2008-0401 are met, a dock platform is automatically authorized under this permit. There is no need to print a form or send in an application. If your dock platform meets the requirements of this general permit, no further action is needed.

Restrictions on docks

You may not place a dock in public waters if the dock:

  • Obstructs navigation or creates a hazard
  • Is detrimental to fish or wildlife habitat or is placed in a posted fish spawning area
  • Is intended to be used for human habitation
  • Includes walls, a roof, or sewage facilities
  • Is located on property you do not own or have rights to use


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