Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Aeronautics and Aviation

Airport Licensing

Picture of an airport from a plane.

Airport licensing

General information

Airport licenses are issued to airports, heliports and seaplane bases. Each type of airport license has different requirements. For the full list of licensing requirements see the MnDOT Aeronautics Rules Chapter 8800.1400 through 8800.2300.

MnDOT has four different types of airport licenses

  • Public airport license: issued to owners of airports who want their airport open to the public.
  • Special purpose airport license: issued for public airports with the intention of use for aircraft certificated in the light sport category.
  • Private airport license: allows airport owners to use the airport and to allow others to use the airport with prior permission.
  • Personal-use airports are intended only for personal use by the airport owner. Licensing is not required unless the airport is within five miles of a public airport. FAA and local government requirements still apply to personal use airports. Personal use airports shall not be displayed on any chart for public distribution. 

Airport licenses may be renewed each year for a fee of $15 or every three years for $40. Renewal notices are sent to airport owners the month prior to the expiration date on the airport license.

Before acquiring property for the purpose of establishing an airport, Minnesota Statute 360.018 requires a certificate of site approval from this office. Please see contact information below for assistance in making this application.

If the proposed airport (Public, Private, or Personal Use) is within 35 miles of the city hall of Minneapolis or St. Paul, Minnesota Statute 473.622 requires the approval of the Metropolitan Airports Commission before operating as an airport. This office can assist in obtaining this approval as well.

To conduct commercial operations at any airport the operator must have the permission of the airport owner. Commercial operations may be conducted at private airports and personal use airports, but the types of operations are limited and for some types of operations the airport must comply with the stricter standards required of public airports.

Airport Licensing Process

To license an airport in Minnesota

Each applicant must:

  • Obtain approval from the property owner to establish the airport.
  • Consider what type of airport license is appropriate. Be sure to consider the intended use of the airport.
  • Submit an Application for a New Landing Area (PDF), a Landing Area Location Form, Airport Diagram (PDF) and the appropriate annual license fee to MnDOT Office of Aeronautics.
  • Contact the local government zoning agency to determine if there are any local restrictions, and/or if a conditional use permit (CUP) is required.
  • Develop a design plan for the airport that will meet the selected MnDOT licensing requirements.  Be sure to consider the type of aircraft which will be based there and aircraft performance when determining the runway length. Consider the required approach clearance and the surrounding trees when determining the runway layout.
  • Send FAA Form 7480 (PDF) and a Landing Area Location Form (PDF)/Google Earth image to the FAA Great Lakes Region so they can complete an airspace study for the proposed airport.
  • Request a site approval from MnDOT Office of Aeronautics.

Once the FAA Form 7480 has been sent, the local government requirements have been met, and a site approval from MnDOT has been obtained, construction of the airport may begin.

When the airport has been constructed

Each applicant must:

  • Return the completed FAA Form 5010-5 (or Form 5010-3 for public airports), after the FAA has issued an airspace approval letter.
  • Request an airport inspection from MnDOT.
  • Correct any discrepancies noted during the MnDOT airport inspection.

Once the above items have been completed, MnDOT will issue an airport license.