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Get A Fishing License
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Get an Illinois Fishing License

Before embarking on your next angling adventure in Illinois, take the time to familiarize yourself with the fishing license rules and regulations. Understanding the requirements for obtaining an Illinois fishing license will ensure a smooth and compliant fishing experience.



From riverbanks and reservoirs to large lakes, Illinois offers something for every angler. But it's important to make sure you're following the state's fishing license rules before you head out on the water to fish in Illinois.

The most important thing to know is that anyone 16 or older must have a license to fish. You must have either a physical license or electronic copy with you each time you go fishing. However, there are specific exemptions to this rule depending on whether you're a resident or non-resident.


The following categories of Illinois residents can fish without a license. To be considered a resident, you must have a resident in Illinois 30 days before purchasing your license.

  1. Persons declared legally disabled or blind who can show proof of disability
  2. Owners or tenants fishing in water on their own lands except for club and organizational lakes or lake developments
  3. Persons on active duty in the Armed Forces who entered the service from Illinois and is an Illinois resident fishing while on leave
  4. Those fishing at fee fishing areas licensed by the Department of Natural Resources


There are only two exemptions from the fishing license requirement for non-residents:

  1. Anglers holding licenses from states bordering Illinois if fishing on the Illinois side of rivers adjoining the licensing state
  2. Those fishing at fee fishing areas licensed by the Department of Natural Resources

Also, you don't need a license to fish on one of the state's Free Fishing Days. Each year, the Department of Natural Resources will announce these days.


Illinois offers several different types of sport fishing licenses depending on your residency, age, and duration of your planned fishing trip. Some of the most common fishing license types and the 2021 fees are as follows. The fees collected through license sales are used to help fund three state fish hatcheries.


  • Annual: $15.00
  • 24-hour: $5.50
  • 65 years and older: $7.75
  • 75 years and older: $1.50
  • Sportsmen's License (combined fishing and hunting): $26.25
  • Lifetime Sport Fishing: $435.00

The annual license and sportsmen's license are half price for qualifying resident veterans.


  • Annual: $31.50
  • Three-day: $15.50
  • 24-hour: $10.50

License sales for the year begin on March 1 and expire on March 31 of the following year.


The most convenient way to buy an Illinois fishing license is online at the Department of Natural Resources website. Any license purchased online can also be reprinted at no charge.

There are other options for purchasing your Illinois fishing license as well. You can buy your license from an approved Department of Natural Resources license and permit vendor throughout the state. The Department of Natural Resources has a list of these on its website. These vendors can also issue replacement licenses for a $3 replacement fee per item plus a small transaction fee.