How to Get a North Carolina Fishing License

As an avid angler and outdoor writer with over 10 years of experience fishing the waters of North Carolina, I’m happy to provide this guide on obtaining a fishing license in the state. Whether you’re a resident looking to legally fish your local ponds and streams or a visitor hoping to reel in trophy fish on the Outer Banks, this article will tell you everything you need to know.

Where You Can Fish With a NC License

The first step is understanding what type of North Carolina fishing license you need. There are licenses for:

  • Inland waters cover all freshwater rivers, lakes, and streams within the state.
  • Coastal waters cover saltwater coastal areas out to 3 miles offshore.
  • Joint waters are where fresh and saltwater meet.

Ideally, go for the unified license to fish both inland and coastal waters. Or choose separate licenses tailored to where you’ll actually be fishing.

Who Needs a License in North Carolina

Every angler over 16 needs a fishing license to fish public North Carolina waters. The only exceptions are fishing on your own private pond or if you qualify for a special license waiver.

How to Get Your NC Fishing License

Obtaining a North Carolina fishing license is quick and convenient.


Purchase fishing licenses on the NC Wildlife website with a credit card. A $2 transaction fee applies.

By Phone

Call 888-248-6834 and order your license over the phone, available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In Person

Visit an authorized license agent or tackle shop to purchase your license in person with cash.

Types of Licenses Available

North Carolina offers fishing licenses valid for 10 days, 1 year, or even a lifetime. Costs differ for residents and non-residents.

10-Day License

Perfect for visitors. A coastal license is $6 for residents and $11 for non-residents.

Annual License

Valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. A coastal license is $16 for residents and $32 for non-residents.

Lifetime License

One-time purchase, valid for life. The cost ranges from $106 for infants to $530 for non-resident adults. Great value if you fish often!

There are also special licenses available for disabled residents and members of the armed forces.

Fishing Seasons and Limits in NC

There is no closed fishing season in North Carolina, so you can fish year-round once you have your license. However, strict limits on size and daily catch apply to help conserve fish stocks.

Key Things to Remember

  • Carry your license on you when fishing as proof of purchase
  • Know the specific regulations for the type of fish you’re catching
  • Consider getting an annual unified license if fishing both inland and coastal waters

Stay legal and safe on the water with your North Carolina fishing license. Tight lines!

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