Massachusetts Fishing License: A Simple Guide
Jun 17, 2021 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Bay State is famous for its amazing summers, local seafood, and rich history, and the whole world knows that it’s home to MIT and Harvard. Without a doubt, Massachusetts has a lot to offer, but what can beat a fishing adventure there?

With over 1,500 miles of coastline, beautiful freshwater lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, and rivers, there are lots of fishing opportunities for any type of angler. All you need is a Massachusetts fishing license!

The Massachusetts flag on a flagpole with the blue sky in the background

So, you’ve decided to cast a line but have no idea what permit or license you need to make sure you are fishing within the law. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about all the necessary fishing licenses of the “Cod State.”

Check out our full list of licensing guides here if you are looking for info on the US.

Who needs a fishing license in Massachusetts?

In short, if you are aged 15 or older, resident or non-resident, you will need a license to fish in Massachusetts. However, there are some exceptions where residents of the state can fish without a license or get one for free. More on this in the next section.

Fees vary depending on the length and type of the license, as well as your age. When you purchase a fishing license, that money will be used to support various marine recreational fishing projects and programs, according to MassWildlife.

Information for Residents

If you are a Massachusetts resident, there are various types of fishing licenses you can choose from. There’s an option for any angler, whether you are looking to spend a couple of days exploring the local rivers and lakes or just planning a short fishing trip to the Atlantic Ocean.

Your Massachusetts fishing license allows you to fish in the marine waters (including those that flow up to 3 nautical miles from the coastline between the first upstream bridge over streams or rivers and the ocean) and up to 200 from the coast.

Note that you will have to buy separate permits for your saltwater and freshwater fishing adventures. A combination type of license is not available.

Who’s considered a Massachusetts resident?

You qualify as a legal resident if you:

  • Are domiciled* in the state for the entire tax year;
  • Spend more than 183 days in Massachusetts and maintain a permanent place of residence (not counting the days spent in the state while on active duty in the armed forces);
  • Are a part-year resident who moved into or out of the state during the tax year.

*your domicile is your permanent legal residence/home

Costs for Residents

Note that although licenses are free for Massachusetts residents aged 15–17 or 70 and over, along with anglers with disabilities, they still need to get a permit. The only residents who don’t need a license are anglers under 16.

Resident License Type Cost
Year-long $27.50
3-Day $12.50
Ages 65-69 $16.25
Ages 15-17 or 70+, as well as paraplegic, blind, intellectually disabled $0

Information for Non-Residents

If you are not a resident of Massachusetts and just want to book a fishing trip there, you have a lot of options. However, you will still need to purchase a non-resident permit in order to fish in the state – unless you are under the age of 15.

Costs for Non-Residents

Non-Resident License Type Cost
Year-long $37.50
3-Day $23.50
Ages 15-17 $11.50

What about saltwater?

A Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing license is available for anglers aged 16–59. Just like the freshwater one, this license is free of charge for people over the age of 60.

Massachusetts has reciprocity agreements with various other states, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. That means that if you hold a saltwater fishing license issued in any of these states, you don’t have to get a Massachusetts one.

With a Massachusetts saltwater fishing permit you can also go to the waters of Maine, but not vice versa. 

Age Cost
< 60 (Residents & Non-residents) $10
60+ (Residents & Non-residents) $0

Who can fish without a license?

As we mentioned before, licenses might be free for some anglers, but still, need to be purchased. It’s only fair to wonder, can anyone fish without a license at all? The answer is – yes.

So, you don’t need a Massachusetts fishing license if you:

  • Are a minor under the age of 16 (or 15 for freshwater);
  • Meet the state’s definition of a disabled person;
  • Are planning on booking a fishing charter with a licensed captain. The boat’s license will cover you.
  • Hold the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Permit (the “HMS Permit”) – a government-issued permit that allows anglers to fin-fish (and not land any fish) exclusively in federal waters.

Additional Requirements

If you’re planning to spice up your fishing adventure and harvest green crabs recreationally, you will need to be authorized by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). Recreational lobstering also requires a permit, along with shellfishing (you can get it at the local Division of Marine Fisheries).

Where to Buy Your Massachusetts Fishing License

Everything you need to know about getting a Massachusetts fishing license

There are different ways of getting your Massachusetts fishing license for both residents and non-residents. Once you have it, make sure to bring it with you while fishing. A true and legible image of your permit on your smartphone is also acceptable.

Here’s how you can get your license:

Common Questions about MA Fishing Licenses

  • What happens if I lose my license?

If you lose your license – no problem! You can print a duplicate copy by calling/visiting one of the MassFishHunt offices or online. If you bought your license online, you can find a digital copy on your smartphone.

  • Do I have to renew my license?

Massachusetts fishing licenses expire each year on December 31. You can easily renew it online.

  • How do anglers who are blind or have an intellectual disability or paraplegia get their free license?

Anglers should fill out an application for the free license and submit a form certifying the intellectual disability or paraplegia (or a Certificate of Blindness issued by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.) The documents should be mailed to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (ATTN: Licensing, 251 Causeway St., Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.) Once the license is ready, it will be mailed to you.


That’s all! We’ve tried to cover all the information you’ll need to legally fish in Massachusetts. However, if you still have questions, get in touch with your local MassFishHunt office. Also, feel free to leave us a comment below. Get your license, find a guide near you, and get ready to cast a line!

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