Getting a New York Fishing License: A Quick Guide
May 31, 2019 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic via the Hudson, New York State offers some of the most diverse fishing in the country. Whether you want to escape the city and be at one with nature, or just fancy an hour at lunch, the Empire State has you covered. This guide will tell you all you need to know about getting a New York fishing license, so that you can get on the water and start reeling in that prized fish.

Quick view: New York fishing requirements

Going fishing in New York is pretty straightforward. To fish in freshwater, you’ll need to buy a license, but you can fish in saltwater without paying a cent! In order to head offshore, you’ll need to register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry to land any fish. If you’re running a trip to catch Tuna and Sharks, you’ll require a separate permit. The good news, though, is that you won’t need a license of any kind aboard a New York saltwater fishing charter.

A graphic displaying all the license requirements for fishing in New York, including freshwater licenses, saltwater permits, and who must have them.

To fish the freshwater lakes and rivers, you can choose between four kinds of licenses. Licenses can last a day, three days, a whole year, or you can apply for a lifetime New York fishing license. These licenses are valid across the state’s rich waters and will allow you to catch any permitted fish.

Who needs a New York fishing license?

Any angler over the age of 16 needs a fishing license in New York’s freshwater lakes. Whether you’re a resident or non-resident, you’ll need to purchase a freshwater permit. The process is the same regardless of your residence.

A resident is anyone who has lived in New York for more than the past 30 days. If you’re a full-time student at any NY school or college or are stationed in the military in the state, you’re also considered a resident for the purpose of a fishing license.

You can prove your status with any state-issued ID card, your vehicle registration, tax form, voter card, student ID, military orders, pay stub, or a letter from your employer on letterheaded paper.

Are there any exemptions to New York fishing license requirements?

If you’re wondering whether or not you need a license to fish, then you probably need one. However, you won’t need a license if you are:

  • On a licensed fishing preserve
  • Fishing 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

How much is a New York state fishing license?

The cost of a New York freshwater fishing license differs depending on whether you’re a resident or not. In addition to this, senior citizens over the age of 70 residing in New York are eligible for a discounted annual license. These reduced licenses are cheaper than your usual short-term licenses, so it makes sense for a senior New Yorker to buy a year-long permit.

Freshwater fishing licenses


ResidentNon-Resident
Annual Senior $5N/A
Annual $25$50
7-Day $12$28
1-Day $5$10

Aside from seniors, some other state residents are eligible for a discounted fishing license. Disabled veterans and blind residents of New York can apply for a discounted permit.

Residents of New York also have the benefit of applying for a lifetime fishing license. However, you must have been living in the state for 12 months or more to be eligible. These permits enable you to fish from the moment of purchase for the rest of your life. You can purchase this for babies as young as one day old, giving them the gift of a lifetime’s fishing! Just bring proof of your residency status and a document proving the age of the license holder. Again, seniors can take advantage of a discount in price. The licenses cost:

  • $460 for anyone up to 70 years old
  • $65 for seniors over 70 years old

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.

A lifetime combo license

AgeCost
< 5$380
5-11$535
12 – 69$765
70 + $65

A lifetime fishing license will 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 a saltwater fishing license?

The beauty of fishing the Atlantic and its saltwater tributaries in New York is that it’s absolutely free. Whether you’re fishing inshore, nearshore, or offshore, you won’t have to spend a dime. And there’s even better news – you won’t need a license of any kind if you’re fishing aboard a licensed charter!

If you have your own boat, you’ll need to register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry to get a permit to fish, but this is very hassle-free. You’ll need a separate permit from the federal government if you want to go after Tuna and Sharks. This is also free and just as easy to obtain as the license – providing you have all your papers in order!

Where to buy a New York freshwater fishing license

You can grab your fishing license in a number of ways. You can do it from the comfort of your own home, or in many different locations. Try any of the following methods:

  • Online
  • By Phone: 1-866-933-2257
  • From any registered vendor, including Walmart and tackle stores

Of course, buying it in person means you’ll receive the license on the spot. Ordering online will allow you to print your confirmation right away, or you can ask to get it in the mail. Print it off and you can go fishing right away, while you may way up to 14 days if it comes by post.

If you order by phone, you won’t need to wait at all. After completing your purchase, you’ll receive a confirmation code that will act as your license until it arrives in the post. For all of the above methods, you’ll need to have your social security number at hand.

You can apply for a freshwater fishing license in any of these ways, making it easier than ever to get your license. Unlike in some other states, your annual license runs for a full 365 days, so you won’t need to worry about being cut short by the fishing season.

When it comes to registering your vessel to fish in saltwater, you can also apply in numerous ways. For your state-issued saltwater registration, you can apply online, by phone at 1-866-933-2257, or in person at any licensed vendor. For your federal Tuna and Shark permit, apply online, print and fill out an application form, and mail it off; or, request a form through the mail.

What happens if I lose my license?

There’s no need to worry if you’ve misplaced your license, you can get a replacement in no time. If you ordered online, it may be worth keeping a copy saved on your computer so that you can reprint it right away. Otherwise, head to any license vendor and you can get a new copy for just $5.

Can I use my New York fishing license in other states?

New York State borders the Great Lakes and shares rivers with some neighboring states, making it easy to stray into other waters when you’re fishing. Lucky for you, the state has entered into reciprocal agreements with some neighbors concerning inter-state waters, allowing you to fish between them with just one license.

  • Pennsylvania: Along the Delaware River
  • New Jersey: On Greenwood Lake if fishing from a boat
  • Connecticut: On Indian Lake if fishing from a boat

Unfortunately, when fishing the Great Lakes, the Niagara, St. Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain, you’ll have to be careful. NY has no agreement with any Canadian state or Vermont. Make sure you stick to New York waters and your NY fishing license will be enough to keep you covered.

You’re now an expert in New York fishing licenses – congratulations! You’re ready to hit the water and start reeling in the fish of your dreams. Let us know if you found this guide helpful in the comments below!

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