Recreational Fishing Licenses

Recreational Fishing License FAQs

North Carolina’s Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL), administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries, became effective Jan. 1, 2007. This license can be purchased on a 10-day, annual or lifetime basis, or combined with a variety of licenses issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission. Proceeds from the sale of this license will go into two marine resource funds managed by the state’s Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources commissions. Revenues must be used to manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate, conserve and/or enhance North Carolina’s marine resources.

Requirements

The license allows recreational fishermen to take finfish for personal consumption; finfish harvested under this license cannot be sold. Fishermen using this license are held to the state’s recreational size and possession limits. The license cannot be assigned or transferred and is required for ANY type of recreational finfish taken not included under the Recreational Commercial Gear License. Fishermen holding the CRFL are required to comply with all DMF sampling and survey programs.

The license is required to recreationally take finfish in the Coastal Fishing Waters, as defined by N.C.G.S. § 113-129 (4). Recreational fishing in Joint Waters (areas managed by both the Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources commissions) will also require either the CRFL or a WRC inland fishing license. 

Where to Purchase

Purchase a license online!

Most licenses are also available from WRC license agents throughout the state and at any DMF officePlease Note: Blanket Licenses are ONLY available at DMF offices.

Purchase Commemorative Prints Marking the first year of the Coastal Recreational Fishing License (Red drum artwork).

License Types and Fees

Annual Licenses

Annual Licenses

Unless otherwise specified, annual licenses are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

Coastal Recreational Fishing License

Authorizes fishing in coastal and joint waters during a license term. It does not authorize fishing in inland waters.

License Type Resident Nonresident
Adult - age 16 and older $16 $32

Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License

Statewide inland and coastal recreational fishing for residents during a license term. Includes fishing in Public Mountain Trout Waters, fishing in trout waters on game lands, and fishing in joint waters.

License Type Resident Nonresident
Adult - age 16 and older $41 N/A
Subsistence -  residents who receive Medicaid, Food Stamps, or Work First Family Assistance through the county Department of Social Services;  License Waiver must be obtained through the county Department of Social Services FREE N/A

Unified Sportsman/Coastal Recreational Fishing License

Statewide hunting, inland and coastal recreational fishing for residents during a license term. Includes the privileges of hunting for big game, hunting on game lands, hunting for waterfowl (does not include the bear management e-stamp or federal duck stamp), fishing in Public Mountain Trout Waters, fishing in trout waters on game lands, and fishing in joint waters.

License Type Resident Nonresident
Adult - age 16 and older $69 N/A
Lifetime Licenses

Lifetime Licenses

Lifetime licenses are valid for the lifetime of the license-holder. Senior License Eligibility: Residents born on or before Aug. 1, 1953 are eligible to purchase a senior lifetime license when they turn 65 years of age. Those born after Aug. 1, 1953 are eligible to purchase a senior lifetime license when they turn 70 years of age.

Coastal Recreational Fishing Lifetime License

Authorizes fishing in coastal and joint waters. It does not authorize fishing in inland waters.

License Type Resident Nonresident
Adult - ages 12 & older $265 $530
Youth - ages 1-11 $159 $159
Infant - under age 1 $106 $106
Senior - see above for eligibility requirements $16 N/A
Disabled Veteran - 50 percent or more disabled veterans as determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs $11 N/A
Totally Disabled -  totally and permanently disabled as determined by the Social Security Administration, Civil Service Retirement System, Railroad Retirement Board, or the N.C. State Retirement System or have been diagnosed with a condition considered a presumptive disability (20 C.F.R. 416.934) $11 N/A

Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing Lifetime License

Statewide inland and coastal recreational fishing. Includes fishing in Public Mountain Trout Waters, fishing in trout waters on game lands, and fishing in joint waters.

License Type Resident Nonresident
All Ages $477 N/A
Legally Blind - certified by the Department of Health and Human Services as legally blind FREE N/A
Adult Care Home - residents of an adult care facility FREE N/A
Short-Term Licenses

Short-Term Licenses

Short-term licenses are valid for the period specified on the license. 

Coastal Recreational Fishing 10-day

Authorizes fishing in coastal and joint waters during a license term. It does not authorize fishing in inland waters.

License Resident Nonresident

Coastal Recreational Fishing 10-Day

$6 $11

Block of Ten 10-day Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses

Beginning January 1, 2009, vessel owners or operators may purchase a block of 10, Ten-Day Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses to cover anglers fishing aboard their boat. Each block contains ten licenses that are each valid for 10 consecutive days from the date first used. This block of licenses costs $150 and is available to owners of private vessels, or the responsible party of a business owned vessel. The boat must be 23 feet or more in length and either registered in North Carolina or documented with the U.S. Coast Guard. These licenses cannot be used aboard a vessel licensed for, or engaged in, for hire (charter) fishing. There is no limit on how many blocks of licenses an individual can purchase. The licenses are not transferable or assignable – they must be used on the vessel for which they were issued. Each license, once issued and expired, must be returned to the Division in a postage paid envelope provided with each license. Each block of licenses is valid for two years from date of purchase. Blocks of 10 Ten-Day Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses are only available from the Division of Marine Fisheries license offices or by mail.

Ten 10-day CRFL Application

Other Recreational Licenses, Permits, and Info

Other Recreational Licenses, Permits, and Info

Recreational Commercial Gear License

This is an annual license that allows recreational fishermen to use limited amounts of commercial gear to harvest seafood for their personal consumption. Seafood harvested under this license cannot be sold.

RCGL Information Page

Coastal Recreational Fishing License Exemption Permit

This permit is for an individual or organizations, seeking exemption from recreational fishing license requirements to conduct an organized fishing event held in coastal or joint fishing waters.  The Coastal Recreational Fishing License Exemption Permit shall only be issued when all required information is submitted in writing a minimum of 30 days prior to the event.

Download the Permit application

Recreational Fishing Tournament License

Recreational fishing tournaments that want to sell fish caught from a tournament are required to purchase a Recreational Fishing Tournament License to Sell Fish.

Recreational Fishing Tournament License to Sell Fish Application

Bluefin and Billfish Permits

Planning on fishing for bluefin tuna or swordfish? You'll need a permit from NMFS for that.

NMFS Highly Migratory Species Permits