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What age do you need a fishing license

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Fishing License

In the USA and around the world, you need a valid fishing license or a permit to fish at a certain age for recreational and commercial reasons. The objectives are to regulate fishing and manage fishery resources.

Typically, children all over the world can accompany their families without a permit. As an adult, especially if you are the one doing the fishing, you need a fishing license in most countries. The specific age you are required to one depends on where you are fishing.

Here, we have summarized what a fishing license is about, and what age do you need a fishing license in different regions of the world.

What is a fishing license or permit?

A fishing license, or permit, is your legal permission to catch fish. For adult anglers, it is mandatory in most countries. Typically, your license is a physical document. You carry it on your fishing trips. It contains your name, that of the issuing authority, and the time validity of your license.

In addition, fishing regulations governing your license may also specify other terms. These may include the purpose of fishing i.e. recreational or commercial, places to fish, and types and sizes of your catch.

Depending on where you are, there may be separate licenses for sea and freshwater fishing. Most licenses are valid for a time, renewable thereafter.

What age do you need a fishing license in the USA

In the USA, both the Federal and state laws govern rules licensing. For fishing in Federal waters in the USA, you do not need a license. Yet, you must follow specific rules.

For state waters, generally, you need a fishing license from the age of 16 to the age of 65. Subject to laws of different states, people aged 65 years and older get an exemption. Some states also issue “lifetime exemption” certificates to seniors. Both residents and non-residents require a fishing license for recreational and commercial fishing.

Fishing in USA

Please keep in mind that the rules for a fishing license vary from one state to another. Likewise, some US states also require additional documents.

For example, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requires all anglers aged 15 and above to carry their fishing license. This is one year younger than the typical 16 years required in other states. On top, all anglers in the State of Washington, even those younger than 15, also need a separate Catch Record Card. The state of Massachusetts too requires a fishing license for ages 15 years and above.

In some states, the age limit for license-free fishing is even lower. If you think 15 years is too young, wait! In Oregon, you need a fishing license on and after your 12th birthday.

Age requirements may vary for residents and non-residents. For its residents, the State of Alaska, for example, requires a fishing license at 18. For nonresidents, you need a fishing license at 16.

Get a fishing license

Different states also have several versions and types of fishing licenses. Each version is for a specific purpose. Each costs differently and carries different fishing privileges.

Some states in the USA also honor each other’s fishing licenses. You will have to find out which one accepts yours.

At what age do you need a fishing license in other countries around the world?


In Canada, the age you are required to have a fishing license is 18 to 64 years. There are different versions of Canadian fishing licenses, including Sport and Conservation licenses, each offering different fishing privileges and catch limits.


In the United Kingdom, you need a rod license instead of a fishing license. Every angler over the age of 12 years must have one. In non-estuarine water bodies, an angler also needs a fishing permit from the owner of the fishing rights to the particular water body.


In Europe, the age for a fishing license varies from country to country, and state to state.

In Germany, you need a fishing rod license if you are 14, along with a fishing permit for most water bodies. To get a license, you also need to sit through a short course and pass an exam. Poland has similar rules.

In France, you need a fishing rod license once you turn 18, and need it until you turn 70.

Also some European countries, tourists do not require rod licenses. Some others, the licenses are easily available at discounted prices to encourage fishing-related tourism. In each European country, you will need to know and follow the specific country law.

A fishing license in Australia and New Zealand

In Australia, the age for a fishing license differs from region to region. Typically, it is 18 to 70 or 16 to 70, with exemptions for seniors and pensioners. Those exempted from carrying a license need to carry other relevant documents.

Fishing License New Zealand

In New Zealand, you need an adult fishing license at the age of 18, and a junior fishing license between ages 12 to 17. Fishing for children under 12 is free. New Zealand also offers family licenses, where one license covers the whole family.

License-free fishing

In many jurisdictions, including the Federal waters in the USA, the seawaters in the UK, and in European countries like Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, and Cyprus, you may be allowed to fish without a license. Certain rules and restrictions apply.


Most adults in most jurisdictions require a fishing license or a rod license. The age at which you require it depends on the rules of that state or country. It can be as early as 12 years. Seniors, 65 years in some regions and 70 in others, can fish without a license for recreation. Fishing in any country, region or area, requires you to abide by specific laws and rules. Always keep this in mind. Stay informed.

Disclaimer: The above information relates to fishing license rules in different jurisdictions at the time of writing. This information serves as a reference point. State and country rules may change. Always must consult your local state laws, or fishing license outlets, for updated information.

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