Can You Buy a Fishing License Online?

Yes, you can buy a fishing license online, and this is the easiest way to ensure you’re covered for the location you’re angling.

For old-school anglers who prefer a transaction between humans, it is also possible to organize your license in person from various locations.

An online fishing license is a godsend if you’re hitting a location without having organized a license ahead of time.

If you have a smartphone and a credit card, you have access to an instant license. 

This can mean the difference between fishing legally, fishing illegally (which is not recommended), or not fishing at all.

Let’s have a closer look at getting a fishing license online.

Why Have a Fishing License At All?

Recreational Fishing licenses are part and parcel of modern fishing. However, they’re not without controversy and objection.

Most of us still remember a time when recreational anglers didn’t need government documentation to fish.

Licensing was a commercial deal only and restricted to charter companies and those fisher folk who sell their catch.

Licensing has also been around for trout and some freshwater angling in closed waters for many decades.

Recreational licenses were implemented based on conservation.

It has been recognized that recreational anglers DO significantly impact fishing sustainability and, therefore, should pay to ensure the resource is maintained.

Licenses would provide fish and wildlife services which the much-needed funds to mitigate environmental degradation, enforce fishing laws, and protect habitat and species decline.

It also includes fishing conservation awareness programs, facilities improvements, and other general recreational fishing improvements and investments.

The cynical angler will suggest that licensing is all about control and revenue raising. 

They have a point, but ultimately, so long as the money raised via licenses goes straight back into fair and well-considered resource management, it’s not really a problem.

Fishing licenses are not expensive. They’re also easy to obtain, and it is possible to see where your license dollars are going.

US fish and wildlife services make a point of advertising the distribution of license funds – even if you have to dig a little.

However, we’d need to do a deep dive into the efficacy of license funds distribution. But that’s a pretty chewy topic and requires its own article.

The States and US Fish and Wildlife Services

Every state requires recreational anglers have a license. It’s important you check local requirements to ensure you’re getting the right sort of license.

You can get them in person at sports shops, tackle stores, marinas, and they’re also available via a phone call.

But it’s more common these days to buy a fishing license online. 

It’s fast, easy, and convenient, and everything you need to know about what license is best for you is covered on the site – do you need a saltwater license? A freshwater license?

two anglers fishing salmon

The important thing to note is that while licenses are similar from state to state, there are differences in licenses and fishing regulations.

The important thing is to never assume. Always check the fishing regulations for the location you are fishing in.

Fines are not the only consequence. Incarceration is also on the cards for some egregious license and fishing violations.

In my experience, fisheries and wildlife are usually fair-minded, but they’re very strict and don’t take kindly to ignorance as a defense. It’s up to you. 

All the information is readily available online.

How do I Get a Fishing License Online?

If you’re remotely internet savvy, then you’ll find the process of getting a fishing license online to be very easy.

Just do a simple search – “fishing license” and add the state you’re going to fish. Yep, it’s that simple.

You’ll probably find many sites for the location you’re seeking a license, but I strongly recommend you go to the official state government site.

Make sure the URLcontains .gov, as this identifies it as an official government website. Often official fish and wildlife sites will be .com sites. Be aware, there are scams out there you need to be careful of.

Beware Online Fishing License Scams

Just like everything online, the fishing license program is subject to scams. There are any number of fake sites advertising fishing licenses that are nothing but criminal operations.

Here are a few examples


Note URLs with .org and .net should be treated as suspicious. They come and go and are usually picked up and banned quickly. 

But only after many unwitting customers are scammed.

It’s not always the case that sites with these URLs are dodgy; just be aware it’s possible.

The only truly secure place to purchase a fishing license online is at a government website such as the fish and wildlife service site. 

Remember, the URL should contain .gov. or .com. Just be cautious of others.

A good example is the Texas Parks and Wildlife site. All states will have something like this, but the Texas site is a great example.

For comparison, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is another great site for obtaining all types of fishing licenses and recreational fishing information.

Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Fishing License Online

By and large, purchasing fishing licenses online is only a positive. Most fishing sites provide comprehensive information and service contact options should you have queries not addressed in the website content.

With the exception of scam sites, which we should all be careful of, getting a fishing license online is usually a positive and efficient process.

One of the great benefits is that most of these sites contain great information about all regulations and the ongoing resource management.

Being familiar with the content will assist you in becoming a complete angler with a better understanding of sustainable fishing and your impact on the resource. 

Can I Renew My Fishing License Online?

Yes, you can renew your fishing license online. You can always renew your home state fishing license online.

Temporary and special licenses are often not renewed; you simply purchase a new one once the other has expired.

This will vary from state to state. But the beauty of the online service is that everything you need to know is there.

A Note About Local Laws

It’s important to be aware that state websites may not cover regulations specific to some local waterways.

Some localities will have district or provincial laws. Check local government websites, and ask at local tackle shops. 

These are good places to get inside information on local regulations.

Just remember. Compliance with all fishing regulations and licenses is your responsibility. 

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