The use of a motor vehicle at Northwestern is a privilege with accompanying responsibilities. The purpose of all traffic and parking regulations is to maximize safety on campus for motorists, pedestrians, and university property. Drivers and owners are responsible to know all campus regulations for cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and other motorized vehicles. 

Driver's License Requirements

According to state law, anyone driving a motor vehicle on public roads within the state of Minnesota must carry with them a valid driver’s license from Minnesota, another state, or another country.

Vehicle Registration and Parking Permits

All vehicles driven on campus by community members must be properly registered with the owner’s state of residence and also registered with Public Safety. Registration of a motor vehicle belonging to another person with the intent to defraud the university is prohibited. Community members may not have a motor vehicle at Northwestern without personal liability and property damage insurance.    Freshmen (students with less than 30 earned university credits) living in university housing are not permitted to have a vehicle on Northwestern property. Appeals are available but are only accepted for extreme circumstances. Vehicle registration is on the campus services page on theROCK.   Community members who register their vehicles and pay the permit fee are issued a vehicle permit. The cost for parking permits is:

  • $180.00 per semester for resident parking (this includes residents of Akenson, Knutson, Knuha, Hartill, Moyer, and Ramseyer residence halls). 
  • $150.00 per semester for commuter parking. 
  • $50 per semester for motorcycle and scooter parking.

The permit must be affixed to the rear-most side window on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The permit must be attached to the window using the permit’s adhesive (not taped or otherwise affixed). A vehicle whose permit is just lying on the dashboard or taped to the window will not be considered registered, and the vehicle will be issued a citation. The parking permit is to be affixed to the vehicle to which it was registered. Permit stickers may not be transferred to another vehicle. If vehicle changes occur, contact Public Safety to receive a new permit sticker at no cost.

Temporary Permits

If a community member has an unregistered vehicle on university property, a temporary permit must be obtained from the Public Safety Office (Riley Hall room 1617) or from the checkpoint. The vehicle license plate number must be supplied. Temporary permits must be obtained on the first day the vehicle is on campus. Temporary permits are valid only through the date specified.

Registered Vehicles

  • There is no charge for temporary permits issued as a temporary replacement for your regular permit (e.g. your regular vehicle is in the shop, etc.).

Unregistered Vehicles

  • Vehicles without a valid parking permit may be issued a temporary permit at Public Safety’s discretion. Limited resident parking capacity may affect temporary permit availability.
  • A charge of $3 per day will be billed for temporary permits issued to students who do not have a registered vehicle and parking permit.
  • Temporary permits are limited to five days total per semester for students without a valid parking permit.

Motorcycles, Scooters, and Motorbikes

Motorcycles, motor scooters, and motorbikes must be registered just like any other vehicle on campus. Community members who choose not to register their motorcycles are given citations and fined. Motorcycles, motor scooters, or motorbikes must be parked in these designated areas:

  • Across from door #9 in Knutson Hall 
  • In front of the Robertson Student Center 
  • Across from door #2 of Hartill Hall.

Residents who drive their motorcycles, motor scooters, or motorbikes to class will be issued citations. Commuter students who have motorcycles, motor scooters, or motorbikes must park in the designated motorcycle parking areas. 

Student Parking

Due to limited space, resident students of Hartill, Knutson, Moyer, Ramseyer, Southeast, Pittman Hall North and South are not allowed to drive to the lower academic end of campus for classes or park in general parking lots between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. and between 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. There is a shuttle that runs between all of the residences and the main campus. The schedule is posted for each pick-up/drop-off location. Students who park in lots not assigned to them will be issued citations. Please note that no “extras” (e.g., trailers, carts, toppers, etc.) will be allowed in any of the campus parking lots. For more information on assigned parking lots, please refer to the parking regulations available at the Public Safety office (Riley Hall room 1617).

Visitor Parking

Visitor parking spaces are intended to be available for visiting prospective students, guests of the college, and parents of current students. Students who park in these spaces will receive citations.

Reserved Parking

Reserved parking spaces are intended for designated university personnel. The university asks that you respect these spaces by not parking there. Students who park in these spaces will receive citations. There are two parking lots that are reserved for faculty and staff: one behind Nazareth Hall and the other behind Totino Fine Arts Center. These lots are reserved for faculty and staff Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.


Public Safety utilizes immobilization devices (boots) to aid with the enforcement of college parking policies. Your vehicle may be immobilized if you have accumulated three or more citations. If your vehicle is immobilized, arrangements must be made with the Director of Public Safety, or their appointee, to discuss the reason for the excess citations before the immobilizer is removed. Once a vehicle has been immobilized, do not attempt to move the vehicle or severe damage may occur. Tampering with or removal of an immobilizer may result in the immediate revocation of parking privileges and an additional fine of $200.00. Theft of an immobilizer is a felony and could result in criminal prosecution.

Mechanical Problems

Any vehicle parked illegally or overnight due to mechanical problems must be reported immediately to Public Safety day or night. Failure to follow this procedure will result in your vehicle being subject to towing as well as receiving the appropriate citation(s).

Summer and Vacation Parking

Community members may not park/leave/store vehicles or boats on campus during the summer vacation period. Abandoned vehicles will be impounded.

Towing of Vehicles

Public Safety reserves the right to tow vehicles that may cause problems in emergency situations, such as vehicles parked in fire lanes or by fire hydrants and vehicles blocking building entrances. Other situations for towing vehicles may include, but are not limited to: posted reserved areas, handicapped areas, vehicles parked off the road, or not in parking areas. All abandoned vehicles are subject to towing at the owner’s expense. An abandoned vehicle is a vehicle parked in one location without authorization for more than 48 hours. Also, vehicles not in operational condition are considered abandoned.

Vehicles that receive an excessive number of parking citations are subject to towing at the owner’s expense. Public Safety will attempt to contact a vehicle’s owner by email and/or phone before a vehicle is towed. Public Safety will also attempt to meet with a vehicle’s owner to discuss parking regulations and violations. Vehicles whose owners are unidentifiable may be towed without notification.

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