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Get A Fishing License
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Get a North Carolina Fishing License

Join in the effort to preserve the future of fish in North Carolina for generations to come. Obtain your North Carolina fishing license and play your part in ensuring the sustainability of fish populations. Learn everything you need to know about obtaining a fishing license in North Carolina and contribute to the conservation of this valuable resource.

North Carolina


In North Carolina, the services provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are funded mainly by license sales. To help preserve fishing for future anglers, anyone 16 or older must buy a license to fish.

This rule applies whether you are fishing in inland, joint or coastal waters. Depending on where you plan to fish in North Carolina, you’ll need to apply for either an inland fishing license or a coastal recreational fishing license. Either license is also good for fishing in joint waters.


There are several types of fishing licenses available to both residents and non-residents alike who plan to fish in North Carolina waters. These include:

  • Short-Term NC Fishing Licenses: These are good for the time specified on the license.
    • 10-day inland
    • 10-day coastal
  • Annual NC Fishing Licenses: An annual license is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
    • 12-month inland
    • 12-month coastal
    • 12-month unified (both inland and coastal), which is only available to residents
  • Those who receive Medicaid, Food Stamps or Work First Family Assistance can get a license waiver from the county Department of Social Services and fish for free.

Lifetime NC Fishing Licenses:

These licenses are good for the lifetime of the license-holder. The rates for these are age-based:

  • Adult ages 12 and older
  • Youth ages 1-11
  • Infant under age 1
  • Senior (only available to residents)

There are also licenses for disabled anglers and those living in adult care homes who are residents of North Carolina. These include:

  • Disabled veteran inland for those 50 percent or more disabled
  • Disabled veteran coastal for those who are 50 percent or more disabled
  • Disabled inland
  • Disabled coastal
  • Legally blind unified (both inland and coastal)
  • Adult care home unified (both inland and coastal)

Another option, depending on what other activities you plan to take part in, is to get a combination hunting and fishing license. Your options for these depend on where and when the activities occur and where you reside.

To get a fishing license and the fees you’ll be charged, a resident is a person who has resided in North Carolina for six months or has established a permanent residence for 60 days. Even if they’re non-residents, students attending a college in North Carolina and military personnel stationed in the state can purchase a resident license.


North Carolina has agreements with certain states that allow licenses from those states to be honored in certain boundary waters. Reciprocity agreements are in place for:

  • Georgia: A reciprocal agreement with Georgia covers fishing on the Chatuge Reservoirs and its tributaries.
  • Tennessee: This agreement covers the state line portion of Slick Rock Creek and Calderwood Reservoir.
  • Virginia: The agreement covers boat fishing sections of the Dan River, Staunton River, and Kerr and Gaston reservoirs.


You have several options when it comes to purchasing your North Carolina fishing license.

  • Online: Most fishing licenses can be purchased online at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website at
  • By Phone: You can call 888-248-6834 and purchase your license with a credit card.
  • In-Person: You can go to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in person in Raleigh, North Carolina, to purchase your license.
  • At a Service Agent: Local wildlife service agents located throughout the state sell most licenses, including lifetime licenses.

No matter how you plan to buy your license, you’ll need to have a picture ID.