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Dock Permits

Dock Permit Information, Image shows multiple docks along coast of lake

All docks, hoists, buoys, and rafts placed in or over any water open to the public in the state of Iowa must now have a permit. Iowa Administrative Rule 571 - Chapter 16

Installing a new boat dock with electrical? Take note!

All docks must have a sign with their local 911 street address, city and permit number.  The information shall be displayed in block letters and numbers at least 1 inch high in a color contrasting with the background, on the water end of the dock, facing away from shore, and shall be plainly visible.  The name is not required.

Any fees owed to the department shall be paid in full prior to the installation of any portion of an individual private dock or commercial dock and before a boat is placed in a hoist or slip.

Each dock, hoist, moored vessel or other permitted structure shall be offset a minimum of 5 feet from an adjoining property line.  A minimum gap of 10 feet shall be maintained between adjoining docks (including “L” or “T” or catwalk segments), hoists or moored boats.  There are exceptions to the offset, length limits, number of hoists and slips, and platform size requirements.  Please see the dock rules for details.  An Exception Application must be attached to the Class 3 or Class 4 dock permit application.

Exception Application |

Even with a dock permit, the public cannot be prevented from using water areas around the dock and hoists, nor can they be prevented from stepping on or over a dock to walk or wade parallel to the shore. Otherwise, a lawfully permitted dock is the property of the permit holder and is reserved to the legal use of the permit holder.

To get a quick glance at which dock classification applies to you be sure to check out the Classification Matrix.  Under the dock rule there are the following four classes of docks:

Class 1 - Standard Private Dock
Class 1 docks are standard private docks, other private docks in specified areas and docks permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Dock owners requesting a swim raft, mooring buoy, or any exception must apply for a Class 3 permit. Class 1 docks on a natural lake may extend the greater of 100 feet from the water’s edge or far enough so that the outer 50 feet of the dock is in 3 feet of water up to a maximum of 300 feet from the water’s edge. These lengths shall be measured from the water’s edge when the dock is installed.  A dock on an artificial lake or river may extend the lesser of 50 feet from the water’s edge or one-fourth of the width of the waterway measured from the water’s edge when the dock is installed. A Class 1 permit for a standard dock may authorize a total of one dock and up to two hoists serving one residence. If a permanent or seasonal residence is not located on the property with the dock, the applicant must file for a Class 3 dock permit. A dock on a natural lake shall have no more than one “L” or “T” segment.  The total length of the “L” or “T” segment facing opposite from shore shall not be greater than 20 feet including the width of the dock.  The total area of the “L” or “T” segment shall not exceed 200 square feet.  Common docks serving two or more residences located on adjoining shoreline properties may also qualify as a Class 1 private standard dock if they meet the criteria above and have no more than three hoists or slips per shoreline property.  No fee is required. By agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the department, a dock permit issued by the Corps of Engineers pursuant to a joint boat dock application review process shall serve in place of a Class I permit issued by the department on all waters under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers.

Class 1 Dock Information Sheet
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dock Permit Information
Class 1 Dock Permit Application Form
Class 1 Dock Permit Application Form
OR apply for a Class 1 dock permit online: https://www.iowadnr.gov/boatdocks/index.php

Class 2 - City or County Authorized Dock
Class 2 docks are for city or county authorized docks extending from public owned or controlled property. Class 2 docks must meet similar requirements as the other classes of docks.
Class 2 Dock Information Sheet
Class 2 Dock Permit Application Form
Class 2 Dock Permit Application Form

Class 3 - Non Standard Private Dock
All private docks that are not authorized by Class 1 or Class 2 permits shall require a Class 3 dock permit. Class 3 docks on a natural lake may extend the greater of 100 feet from the water’s edge or far enough so that the outer 80 feet of the dock is in 3 feet of water up to a maximum of 300 feet from the water’s edge.  These lengths shall be measured from the water’s edge when the dock is installed.  All private docks that have more than two hoists/lifts/slips/racks or a platform that is larger than 200 square feet but no larger than 240 square feet or any raft, platform, mooring buoy or other structures, or an exception to the five foot offset from the property lines must have a Class 3 permit. These permits cost $125 for a five-year permit. Class 3 private dock permits allow a maximum of one hoist or slip for each ten feet of shoreline. There is a fee of $50 per hoist or slip for each hoist or slip in excess of four.
Class 3 Dock Information Sheet
Class 3 Dock Permit Application Form
Class 3 Dock Permit Application Form

Class 4 Dock - Commercial Dock
Class 4 permits are for commercial docks, defined as a dock used as part of a business and includes a dock extending from residential property if one or more spaces are rented for a fee. These permits cost $250 for a five-year permit. Class 4 commercial dock permits allow a maximum of one hoist or slip for each ten feet of shoreline (this restriction does not apply to marinas). There is a fee of $50 per hoist or slip for each hoist or slip in excess of six, excluding courtesy hoists or slips.
Class 4 Dock Information Sheet
Class 4 Dock Permit Application Form
Class 4 Dock Permit Application Form

Information on DNR requirements for docks, hoists, buoys, mooring buoys, and rafts along with application forms can be obtained online, from the Regional Offices and from any Conservation Officer.

Once you have determined the appropriate application, print off a copy and submit it to the appropriate Regional Office for processing.

Dock Management Areas
A Dock Management Area (DMA) is an area as designated by the department which includes an area adjoining public land from which docks extend.
Dock Management Area Information Sheet
Dock Management Area Permit Application Form

This short summary does not include all of the provisions of the new DNR dock rules.
See Iowa Administrative Rule 571 - Chapter 16 for details.


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