New York Fishing License: The Complete Guide

Oct 11, 2023 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River, New York State offers some of the most diverse fishing in the country. In order to enjoy it, you need to buy a NY fishing license – except when you don’t. Confused? Don’t worry! This guide will tell you all you need to know about getting a license in the Empire State.

New York state flag flying atop a flagpole against a blue sky

We’ll start with a simple overview then dive into the different license types, how much they cost, and how to get them. Lastly, we’ll cover some common questions so you can enjoy New York’s incredible waters to the fullest.

Looking for info on neighboring states, or around the US in general? Check out our full list of licensing guides here.

Who needs a fishing license in NY?

Any angler over the age of 16 needs a fishing license in New York’s freshwaters. This applies whether you’re a resident or not. However, you don’t need a license if you are:

  • On a licensed fishing preserve.
  • At a fishing “clinic.”
  • A landowner engaged in farming on your own land.
  • A holder of a farm fish pond license, fishing in waters covered by that license.
  • A Native American fishing and living on reservation land.
  • Residing at a Veterans’ Administration facility in the state.
  • Fishing in saltwater (see below).

Freshwater Fishing Licenses

There are several different licenses available, ranging from one day to an entire lifetime. Some of these licenses are only available to NY residents, though, and all licenses cost more for out-of-staters. Here’s a breakdown of the standard license costs:

Licence TypeResidentNon-Resident

These standard packages cover 99% of cases. If you just want to head out and catch some fish, look no farther. That being said, there are some special cases where you can get discounted or combined licenses. Let’s take a look at them, just in case.

Free and Reduced-Fee Annual Licenses

Fishing licenses aren’t expensive in New York. However, depending on your circumstances, you can get a heavily-discounted or even completely free annual fishing license. Reduced-fee licenses cost $5 and are available to:

  • Residents aged 70 or older.
  • Resident veterans with 40% or more service-related disability.

On top of this, free fishing licenses are available to:

  • Residents who are legally blind
  • Military members of NYS Organized Militia or U.S. Reserve Forces
  • Native Americans living on reservations (when fishing off-reservation).

Lifetime Combo Licenses

Lastly, if you’re a keen outdoorsman, you can even combine your lifetime New York fishing license with a lifetime hunting license! There are different prices depending on how old you are when you buy your license.

< 5$380
12 – 69$765
70 + $65

A lifetime fishing licenses come in the form of a document, but you can also add it to your DMV license for convenience. This will then act as your fishing license, too! You can wait until your current driver’s license expires to get it updated for free, or you can request an immediate renewal for $12.50.

What about saltwater?

The beauty of fishing the Atlantic and its saltwater tributaries in New York is that it’s absolutely free. All you do need to do is register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry, which is quick and hassle-free. You’ll also need a separate permit from the federal government if you want to go after Tuna and Sharks on a private boat.

The one time you do need to pay is to harvest Lobster. For this, you’ll need a Recreational Lobster Permit, which costs $10 and is only available to NY residents. Sorry, out-of-staters!

Don’t feel like getting any paperwork at all? This is the Empire State – anything’s possible! You don’t need a permit, license, or registration if you’re crabbing, clamming, or fishing on a saltwater fishing charter.

Where to Buy a New York Fishing License

A sign advertising a bait shop selling bait, tackle, and fishing licenses. This is one of the most common places to buy a NY fishing license

You can grab your fishing license in a number of ways, even from the comfort of your own home. Order it online or by phone at 1-866-933-2257. Otherwise, swing by your local tackle shop, Walmart, or any other registered vendor.

You can register for saltwater fishing in the same way. However, federal Tuna and Shark permits are a little different. Either apply online, print out an application form and mail it off, or request a form through the mail.

You’ll receive the license on the spot when buying it in person. If you order online, you can print your confirmation right away (make sure to print a spare, just in case) or ask to get it in the mail. Just be aware that it may take up to 14 days to arrive. If you order by phone, you’ll receive a confirmation code that will act as your license until it arrives in the mail.

Common Questions about NY Licenses

Assorted fishing tackle on a wooden table, with a hook and sinker making a question mark in the middle

You’re almost set to get your license and hit the water. Before you go, here are a few questions and sources of confusion that tend to come up pretty often.

That’s All – Time to Get Fishing!

A happy angler holding a trophy-sized Striped Bass, one of the two New York State Fish

We tried to cover everything you need to know about New York fishing licenses. Hopefully, you’re now an expert! But, if you still have questions, we recommend getting in touch with your local DEC office. Otherwise, hit your local waters or find a charter near you and start reeling in fish!

Author profile picture

Growing up next to a river, Rhys was always on the water. From Carp fishing in his native Wales to trying his hand at offshore fishing when traveling abroad, Rhys has vastly expanded his horizons when it comes to casting a line and continues to test new waters whenever he has the opportunity.

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