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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Snowmobile requirements

Q. The recent snow has made for some great snowmobiling conditions. What are the requirements for operating a snowmobile on groomed trails in North Dakota and Minnesota?

A. I’ll start with North Dakota, where the registration fee for residents is $40 for two years ($5 registration fee and $35 trail tax fee). North Dakota requires that all snowmobiles operated on public land be registered.

 Owners of out-of-state registered snowmobiles must buy a $15 nonresident permit, which is good for one year. The permits are available online at

Youth snowmobile operators must be at least 12 years old and have a valid driver’s license or complete a snowmobile safety training course from the state Parks and Recreation Department to operate a sled on public land. North Dakota also accepts snowmobile certifications from other states, so if you’re certified in Minnesota, for example, you’re good to go — providing, of course, you’ve got the nonresident trail permit to operate on state trails or public lands.

In Minnesota, residents now can buy a three-year snowmobile registration for $78.50, which allows operation on state grant-in-aid trails without the need to buy a special trail sticker.

Nonresidents must purchase a $36 Snowmobile State Trail Sticker, good from Nov. 1 to June 30. Get caught  without it, and  you’ll be buying a one-year “penalty” sticker for $71 in addition to the fines for operating without one in the first place.

To legally operate a snowmobile, Minnesota residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, must have a snowmobile safety certificate in their possession or an indicator on their driver’s license or state ID card that they’re certified. Completing and passing a Minnesota snowmobile safety training course is required to become certified.

If you think the fees are pricey, think again. In Manitoba, for example, it costs $125 just to buy a permit to operate on the trails. Ontario charges a whopping $260 for an annual permit, while three-day permits cost $75, and seven-day permits cost $140.

  •  More info:

North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department:

Minnesota DNR:

If you have a question for Talkin’ with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

(701) 780-1148