Check the Laws in your State.


Fish House Laws from the
Minnesota Dept Driver and Vehicle Services

This is the memo we recently received.

Upon review of requirements by Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), the Minnesota State Patrol and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it has been determined that a fish house on wheels meets the requirements of a trailer and must be registered as such. This includes:

Enclosed trailers with cargo doors that haul all-terrain vehicles or other cargo and are used as a fish house, and other trailers manufactured for use as a fish house. These are registered as trailers, either permanent or according to the gross weight depending on their size.

Recreational trailers used seasonally as a fish house. The owner must register the vehicle as a recreational trailer.

Dealers have been notified that fish houses are considered trailers. Anyone selling these has to have the appropriate dealer’s license.

The DNR is including information in their Fishing Regulation pamphlet. Because the DNR is no longer requiring licenses on fish houses if they are not left on the ice overnight unattended, we anticipate you may also be receiving additional questions.

(DNR shelter lic are not the same as DMV trailer lic.)

The State Patrol will be allowing individuals time to register the trailers. They do not plan on enforcing registration on these until May 2008.

Fish House on Wheels FAQ’s

According to Minnesota law, an ice-fishing house on wheels is a trailer or (if it meets certain criteria) a recreational vehicle, and must be licensed as such by the Driver and Vehicle Services Division of the Department of Public Safety (DVS).

Non-recreational trailers receive two different types of registration in Minnesota. A trailer over 3,000 pounds (gross vehicle weight) is issued metal license plates. Those under 3,000 pounds receive a self-adhesive license plate (sticker).

Some trailers qualify as recreational vehicles. If your trailer provides temporary human living quarters, it may qualify as a recreational vehicle. The legal description includes stipulations that the device is not a residence, is used in recreational activity, and is either self-propelled or towed on the highways.

Is there a difference between non-recreational trailers and recreational vehicles, in terms of licensing process and cost? Yes – Dave Anderson provided me with a PDF that lists trailer types and their licensing requirements and costs. I gave that to the writer instead of trying to describe everything.

What’s the process for licensing? Go to a Deputy Registrar with proof of ownership – a certificate of origin, a registration card, or a title. If you have no proof, they’ll have you fill out a “statement of facts” to establish ownership and then allow the registration to take place.
If you build your own trailer you should be able to register is as a homemade trailer at your local DMV, contact them them for any requirements.

Why are fish house owners just learning that they need to be licensed? DVS has notified manufacturers and dealers, and provided information to DNR for their publications. Many owners are just becoming aware that this long-existing law is being enforced. Any trailer on wheels being pulled down the highway has always had a registration requirement in Minnesota; the evolution of fish houses from simple, home-made shelters that were pulled across the road to the lake, into hotel-rooms-on-wheels that get hauled hundreds of miles up the highway, has necessitated enforcement of this law.

Have dealers of such fish houses been informed? Yes. Repeatedly.

Do other rules apply, in addition to the registration, as they apply to other trailers? Yes. A fish-house on wheels is a trailer…is a trailer…is a trailer. All the trailer rules apply. See Trailer Requirements

Do older or “homemade” units need to be updated to comply, if they currently do not? (No “grandfathering”) Yes. In order to be legally towed on Minnesota roads, every trailer must meet physical specifications and registration requirements, whether or not it is used as an ice fishing house.

If you build your own trailer you should be able to register is as a homemade trailer at your local DMV, contact them them for any requirements.



Fish house safety planning; thinking
about it now can prevent hazards and injuries

By Maj. Roger Tietz
DNR Enforcement Division

Wheeled fish houses are trailers and need to comply with traffic laws: Through the years there has been an ongoing debate regarding trailered fish houses. For a long time in Minnesota, they were classified as special use trailers and were not required to be licensed as highway vehicles. That led to a confusion regarding which traffic laws applied. To be clear, they are required to be highway licensed and registered with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. With licensing, it’s clear that when wheeled fish houses are trailered on our roadways, they need to be in compliance with all of the (Chapter 169) motor vehicle laws that apply. This includes the provisions related to required equipment such as trailer chains, required lights, as well as ensuring that the trailer doesn’t exceed a maximum width of 102 inches (8.5 feet), and that the trailer is being a towed by properly matched vehicle. Another key safety consideration is trailer weight. Responsible owners need to know the weight of the trailer. Don’t rely on a manufacturer’s recommendation or a guess. As a safety conscious owner, take it to a scale with the ice fishing gear usually carried on board, filled propane tanks, and the towing vehicle to obtain the actual weight. This is an important safeguard, because a wheeled fish house trailer (more than 3,000 lbs.) is required to have brakes. Ultimately the owner can be issued a citation if the trailer they are towing is out of compliance. These are essential safety laws that will keep you and the motoring public safe.


Laws of the Road

Fish House Safety – DNR Commentary

Fish Houses – DNR Commentary