There are four types of archaeological licenses in Minnesota:
- A yearly license for reconnaissance/Phase I survey.
- A site-specific license for site evaluations/Phase II.
- A site-specific license for major excavations/Phase III.
- A site-specific license for burial authentications.
A state archaeological license is required for all archaeological work done on non-federal public property in Minnesota. This includes state parks and forests, road rights of way, and local government land.
As specified in state law (MS 138.36), the State Archaeologist approves the qualifications of an archaeologist applying for a license and forwards approved applications to the Director of the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). While MNHS technically "issues" the license under MS 138.36, OSA is the entity that develops licensing procedures, reviews license applications, handles all correspondence with licensees and prospective licensees, and monitors the activities of the licensees.
Archaeologists who have received the combined Phase I-II yearly license in the past are not necessarily qualified to receive a current Phase II Evaluation License, as receiving that license will be dependent on demonstration of appropriate personal qualifications for each site involved. This includes detailed familiarity with the historic contexts present at the site and the archaeological region where the site is located. Applicants for Phase III licenses and authentication licenses need to meet the highest professional standards with regard to past performance and past experience.