Vessel discharge

Apply online for vessel discharge permit

Apply online! This is the fastest way to get your permit and saves paper.

  • If you are paying permit fees from a foreign bank, applying online is not an option for you.
  • For those who prefer, paper applications are available below.
PDF icon Completing the e-Services Vessel Discharge Permit application (wq-s8-02a)

Information on how to complete the online permit application.

Minnesota ballast water requirements

Ballast water dischargesIn addition to the vessel requirements in the EPA VGP and Minnesota’s ballast water general permit, vessels must follow the requirements in Minnesota Statutes and Minnesota’s 401 certification of the VGP.

General permit issued October 1, 2018

Vessel owners who are required to obtain the VGP and wish to transit Minnesota waters of Lake Superior must submit the following permit application forms and permit fees as soon as they know their vessels will be entering Minnesota waters. Vessels that routinely transit Minnesota waters should submit a permit application at least 180 days before entering Minnesota waters. Permit applications should be submitted at least 180 days before vessels enter Minnesota waters. However, MPCA understands that vessel routes are not always known 180 days in advance; in these situations, applications should be submitted as soon as possible so the vessel can obtain permit coverage before entering Minnesota waters.

  1. If a BWSMP has previously been approved by the MPCA and has not been modified since approval, permittees may check the box on the application form stating this instead of submitting a new copy. For voyages that originate outside the EEZ, ensure that your BWSMP includes ballast water exchange if you have installed a ballast water treatment system.
  2. An original “wet” signature must be included on the submitted permit application if a hard copy is submitted rather than applying through the e-Services portal.

Permit application fees and annual fees can be paid electronically using the MPCA's e-Services portal, if paying by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or electronic EFT (checking or saving account) from a participating bank based in the United States.

Additional Minnesota specific requirements for vessels with treatment systems:

  • Vessels are required to conduct ballast water exchange regardless of the installation of a treatment system if the vessel’s voyage originated outside the EEZ. This activity must be stated in your Ballast Water and Sediment Management Plan (BWSMP).
  • Vessels are required to report chemical additives use and may require chemical additive approval by the MPCA depending on the type of chemicals used in treatment and discharged. Please review the requirements and follow the procedures in the guidance and calculator documents. Get helpful tips and see a demonstration of the calculator in the videos linked below.

Permit coverage

The MPCA issues ballast water discharge general permits to commercial vessels that transit the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior: PDF icon Ballast Water General Permit (wq-s8-09a)

The permit covers both oceangoing and Great Lakes-only vessels that are required to obtain the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Vessel General Permits (VGP).

Permit termination

The permittee must submit a termination request when a vessel no longer requires coverage. The MPCA does not terminate permits without a termination request. This may occur at any time and facilities are responsible for fees while the permit is active.

The vessel discharge permit is a 10-year permit based on the issuance date of the General Permit and not by each vessel’s Notice of Coverage. The annual fee is $345 and the issuance/reissuance fee is $1240. Vessels planning to return to Minnesota waters within three years of receiving coverage will find financial benefit in keeping their permit ($345*3 years=$1,035) instead of terminating and reapplying for $1,240.

Use this change request form to terminate your ballast water discharge permit if coverage is no longer needed: File Permit change request form (wq-wwprm7-01)

Minnesota statutes

In 2008, the Minnesota Legislature adopted Minn. Stat. § 115.1701-115.1707.

  • Binary Data Minn. Stat. § 115.1703 requires vessels to develop, and the MPCA to approve, BWMPs. The conditions required for the BWMP are detailed in the ballast water permit application.
  • Binary Data Minn. Stat. § 115.1705 requires vessels to keep records of ballast activities. Both the BWMP and the record book are requirements in the general ballast water discharge permit.

List of vessels with permit coverage

Disclaimer: Although the MPCA makes every attempt to ensure that the information placed on this website is accurate and current, this site may not contain all of the vessels issued coverage under the permit by the MPCA. All ballast water permit applications and related documents are available for inspection at the MPCA's Duluth office, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, Duluth, MN 55802.

What are vessel discharges?

During the normal course of ship operations, ballast water is taken on or discharged by ships to accommodate changes in the weight of the ship due to fuel loading and use, loading and unloading of cargo, and to increase the stability of a ship due to adverse weather conditions. Ballast water uptake and discharge typically occurs at port operations, but also can occur during transit between ports.

Vessels also have other discharges such as deck runoff, bilge water (water that collects in the lowest part of the ship's hull and may contain oil, grease, and other contaminants), water from cooling and firemain systems, chain locker effluent, and gray water (waste water from showers, sinks, and kitchens). EPA’s VGP covers over 25 specific discharge categories. Minnesota’s permit only covers ballast water discharges.

Sewage discharges from ships are currently regulated under federal rules. Of these discharges, ballast water by far is the greatest in volume.

Ballast water brings unwanted species

Permit-related documents


The transportation industry on the Great Lakes is vitally important to Minnesota's economy. However, discharges of ballast water from oceangoing and laker vessels may contain aquatic invasive species.

The MPCA, working with other state, federal, tribal, and international organizations, is taking steps to address this threat through a ballast water discharge permit. Vessels transiting the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior that are required to submit a Notice of Intent to obtain coverage under the U.S. EPA Vessel General permit are required to obtain a Notice of Coverage under the Minnesota permit.




Great Lakes



  • Ballast water permitting and coordinator: Katie Jardine (218-302-6674)
  • Permit compliance: John Thomas (218-302-6616)
  • Water quality permits supervisor: Theresa Haugen (218-316-3920)
  • Water quality permits and compliance manager: Jeff Udd (218-302-6637)