How to Get a Fishing License – Everything You Need to Know!

USA Map for Fishing

Getting a fishing license in the United States seems like a hard job and sounds very frustrating. However, most anglers know that this is not the case.

The process in most states is entirely straightforward, free from bureaucracy and most of the time does not take more than a few minutes.

While many people may find the carrying of a license unnecessary, and sometimes does not even matter really – it is a critical rule that all anglers need to follow.

Otherwise, you may eventually have problems with the state and also face the law.

So, if you want to be entirely legal while doing a fantastic sport such as fishing – then come further and learn about licenses in the US.

You will be more informed and confident when it comes to fishing after doing it!

How Much Does a Fishing License Cost?

A fishing license is not a very expensive document to have in the US.

However, it all depends on many things including the durability of the license (1 day, two days, a week, a month, a year, lifetime, etc.).

The type of license is also essential, whether you are fishing only for sport or as a commercial endeavor. And of course, all states have different fees as well.

Resident and non-resident licenses also cost differently. Non-resident fees are often up to 300% more expensive than a resident license. So make sure you apply for the right one.

In California, for example, a resident license costs 48$ while a non-resident license has a value of 130$. For an annual sports license, you may need to pay an additional 10$ fee.

A lifetime license in CA costs 533$ for children 9 or younger, and adults 65 or older. From 10 to 39 years, it costs 871$, while from 40 to 61, it costs 785$.

In Illinois, on the other hand, a resident fishing license costs 15$, and a non-resident license costs 31$.

However, you can also get a dealer license which has a cost that ranges between 1,500$ and 3,500$ depending on what you are going to commercialize.

In New York, you can get a one-day fishing license as a resident for 5$, and as a non-resident for 10$. For a 7-day license, you may pay $12 as a resident or $28 as a non-resident. 

Similarly, for an annual permit, it costs 25$ for residents and 50$ for a non-resident.

It is important to note that these fees are commonly used as tax money for the protection and preservation of wildlife in these states.

Some of the money also goes to ecological and wildlife-related programs & projects that not only help to maintain nature but also to protect species and improve state services.

So, before saying NO to getting a license, remember you are not only getting a legal document but also helping with the preservation of the nature and wildlife of the state.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Fishing License?

The law says that any person over the age of sixteen needs to possess a sports fishing license to fish without issues in most bodies of water.

In the state of Florida, nevertheless, any young person under the age of sixteen can catch without problems as long as she has the proper gear and equipment and complies with all fishing regulations.

However, in some states such as California, children younger than nine years old may also apply for a lifetime fishing license with the permission of their parents. Otherwise, a license is not necessary.

On the other hand, people older than 65 years old may also get excepted when it comes to licenses.

Some states, instead of eliminating permits for the elderly, make them much cheaper than standard ones.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Fishing License?

There’s no problem when it comes to getting a fishing license.

Whether it is a sport, resident, annual, daily, or lifetime license – the process may take between a few minutes or hours, to days when it is done in an office.

However, most fishing licenses don’t take more than just a few minutes in a tax office or a fishing shop close to a body of water.

Or else, you may apply for one via the internet, and of course, it will be yours in just a few minutes.

How Can You Get a Fishing License in CA?

To get fishing in California, you will have to know where to do it and what to submit.

Here are a few steps you need to follow to do it more easily:

  • You will need to grab necessary documentation, like an identification document (ID, driver’s license, etc.), and provide telephone, email, and other essential data.
  • Then look for the nearest License and Revenue Branch or general offices, a fishing shop, or from the Florida and Wildlife Commission online.
  • You can apply via the internet at such an office or instantly get a digital license if you want. Make sure to apply for the right permit according to your needs (one day, two days, monthly, annual, lifetime, sport, etc.)
  • Go to the office after being accepted or eligible for the license. Make sure to bring a check, credit or debit card, or money order to the office as it is prohibited to pay in cash.
  • Read all the licensing regulations and factors. Then pay for the license and wait for the office to deliver it to you. Otherwise, download the license.

This process regularly takes just a few minutes, or days if you want the printed version from an office depending on the season. In the busiest seasons, the process may take even more.

California fishing licenses last from January 1st to December 31st of every year unless you ask for a different one.

How Can You Get a Fishing License in Florida?

In Florida you can buy a fishing license in many places including fishing shops, some large sports retailers (Wal-Mart, Sports Authority, K-Mart, etc.), and even convenience stores but for a more expensive fee.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Collect all the data from the internet about what documentation and data you need to comply with. Make sure you are at least 16 years old before applying (younger people don’t need a license)
  • Send or bring all the papers to the office or website (Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission). Make sure to have a credit or debit card to pay. Checks and money transfers are also available in physical locations. 
  • Receive your license accordingly. Remember to ask for the right permission according to your needs (military, over sixty-five, annual license, one-day license, lifetime, etc.)

Florida is a state that has many bodies of water, and thus many different species you can catch.

Make sure you know what lakes or rivers you can use for fishing, and which species you can find after receiving your license to avoid common issues.

How to Get a Fishing License in Georgia?

Georgia is one of the states with the most regulations when it comes to fishing.

However, to get a license, it is effortless as long as you are over the age of sixteen.

Here’s how:

  • Apply for a permit in a fishing or retail shop, tax office, Walmart, or via the internet directly on the Georgia Wildlife Commission website.
  • Provide all the necessary documentation from ID to any data they ask (email, telephone number, proof of residency, etc.)
  • Make sure to buy the right license. Remember there are some fee reductions for some people (military, over 65 years of age, etc). Pay the fee with your debit or credit card accordingly.
  • You can now look for your license in the office or just download it and print it when needed. Most Georgia fishing licenses last up to a year. The cheapest ones may offer between one day and two weeks of availability. The most expensive ones can last a lifetime.

Make sure to read all the regulations and requirements you need before applying, and going fishing. Georgia has many regulations anglers should know about before going, so they can avoid problems with the law.

How Can I Get A Fishing License in NY?

In New York, getting a fishing license is slightly more difficult than in other states. This one has many regulations and laws regarding species, bodies of water, borders, and more.

However, the process is still easy, as long as you follow these steps:

  • Go to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website and apply. You can also do it via telephone or through a licensed agent (more expensive).
  • Remember to apply for the right license: 1-day, 2-days, week, year, or lifetime fishing license. The more extended standing licenses demand a lot of documentation and data to be processed. 
  • Pay for the desired license and wait for it to be delivered. Online, the process may take between a few minutes to a few days (3-5 days). Remember to use a credit or debit card for the payment of the fee. 
  • After receiving the license or printing it, remember to check all regulations regarding bodies of water, borders, and species when it comes to fishing in New York. 

All the fees from fishing licenses go for habitat protection and endangered species programs, as well as many other ecological and nature-oriented projects.

So, you may find New York fishing licenses are a little more expensive than in other states.

How Can You Get a Fishing License in Illinois?

Illinois is another state that has a slightly more difficult licensing process than most states.

In their regulations and laws, for example, they have both statewide and some specific-place rules to follow, sometimes including specific regulations as well.

However, the process does not take much time.

  • Residents and non-residents over the age of sixteen need to apply for a fishing license via the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Some shops and gear-related sports markets may also offer the license but for a more expensive fee.
  • Focus on getting the right license. You can find 24-hour, 2-day, week, or yearly licenses and even lifetime ones. Year licenses expire on the 31st of March of every year.
  • Different licenses have different costs. Some permits, however, do not offer the online application feature. So make sure you apply for the right one according to your needs. Pay for it via credit or debit card. Check, or money transfers are also acceptable in physical offices. 
  • Remember to read all the regulations after receiving your license. There are many laws to follow in this state that may create some issues if you don’t support them. 

Anglers in Illinois are prohibited from catching fish and not returning them to their habitat. However, if you want to fish with other intentions, make sure to have the right license.


As you see, getting a fishing license all around the US is far easier than it seems.

However, most states have many regulations and laws regarding their habitat, species, and more – and a license is the first step you need to follow to learn about them.

Remember, while a license is not crucial for your fishing, it is a critical factor when it comes to the law and the state. You will not only be abiding by the law but also helping the environment and the state to take care of the wildlife.

So, every time you are going fishing in a new state, make sure you read how and why you need a license. You’ll surely need it, and it will surely help you a lot. Don’t hesitate and get yours now!


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