How to Get a Pennsylvania Fishing License in 2024: A Complete Guide

Fishing is a beloved pastime in Pennsylvania, with over 86,000 miles of streams and rivers and 4,000 lakes and reservoirs to explore. But before you can cast your line, you need to obtain a valid Pennsylvania fishing license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about getting your PA fishing license in 2024, including who needs one, the types of licenses available, costs, where to buy, and what information you’ll need to provide.

Who Needs a Pennsylvania Fishing License?

In Pennsylvania, anyone age 16 and older is required to have a valid fishing license to fish in the state’s waterways. This applies to both residents and non-residents, even if you’re fishing on a charter with a licensed guide. There are a few exceptions:

  • Youth anglers under 16 do not need a license, but they must have either a Voluntary Youth Fishing License ($2.97) or a free Mentored Youth Permit to participate in special youth opportunities like the Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day.
  • Certain active duty military personnel who are PA residents on authorized leave and stationed outside the state are exempt from needing a license, but must carry proof of residency and military status.
  • Anglers can fish without a license on “Fish for Free Days”, which occur on the Sunday before Memorial Day and on Independence Day each year.
  • Resident landowners and their immediate family who live on the property year-round can fish on their own land without a license. Everyone else age 16+ must obtain either a resident or non-resident license to fish in Pennsylvania.

Types of Pennsylvania Fishing Licenses

Pennsylvania offers a variety of fishing license options to cater to residents and visitors:

License TypeResidentSenior Resident (65+)Non-Resident

Senior residents aged 65 and older are eligible for a discounted $11.97 annual license or a $51.97 lifetime license. Non-residents have the option of shorter-term tourist licenses ranging from 1 to 7 days, ideal for brief fishing trips.

In addition to a regular fishing license, trout anglers ages 16 and up must purchase a trout permit ($9.97) to fish for, take, or possess trout. An optional Lake Erie permit ($9.97) is required for those fishing in Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay, and their tributaries. A combination trout/Lake Erie permit is available for $15.97.

How Much Does a Pennsylvania Fishing License Cost?

The cost of a Pennsylvania fishing license depends on your residency status and the duration of the license. As of 2024, the fees are as follows:

  • Resident Annual: $27.97 (includes $2.50 price increase from 2023)
  • Senior Resident Annual: $14.47
  • Senior Resident Lifetime: $86.97
  • Non-Resident Annual: $60.97 (includes $4 price increase from 2023)
  • 1-Day Tourist: $14.47 (not valid March 15-April 30)
  • 3-Day Tourist: $31.97
  • 7-Day Tourist: $39.47
  • Trout Permit: $14.97 (includes $2.50 price increase from 2023)
  • Lake Erie Permit: $9.97
  • Combination Trout/Lake Erie Permit: $20.97

Keep in mind that these prices include issuing agent fees and transaction costs. Multi-year licenses offer savings for residents planning to fish for several consecutive seasons.

Where to Buy a Pennsylvania Fishing License

You have several convenient options for purchasing a Pennsylvania fishing license in 2024:

Online: Visit the HuntFishPA website to buy licenses, permits, and vouchers 24/7. You can print your license immediately or save a digital copy to your smartphone.

Mobile App: Download the free FishBoatPA mobile app to purchase licenses directly from your phone.

In Person: Visit one of approximately 700 retail license issuing agents across the state, such as bait shops, sporting goods stores, county treasurers’ offices, and some state parks. Licenses bought in person include a printed copy of the current Fishing Summary/Boating Handbook.

By Phone: Call the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) at 877-707-4085 to purchase a license over the phone.

When buying a license, have your driver’s license or state-issued ID handy to verify your identity and residency. You’ll also need to provide your Social Security Number as required by federal and state law for child support enforcement purposes.

What Information Is Needed to Get a Fishing License?

To obtain a Pennsylvania fishing license, you’ll need to provide the following:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Driver’s license number or state-issued ID number
  • Social Security Number (required for licenses purchased by PA residents)

If purchasing a resident license, you must prove your bona fide Pennsylvania residency by presenting one of these documents:

  • Valid PA driver’s license
  • Valid PA non-driver photo ID card
  • Previous year’s PA income tax return showing proof of payment as a state resident
  • Previous year’s local earned income tax return showing tax paid to a PA municipality
  • Current PA voter registration card

Active duty military personnel stationed in PA for 6+ months can obtain a resident license with proof of permanent change of station (PCS) orders.


Obtaining a Pennsylvania fishing license is a simple process with multiple convenient purchase options. By understanding the license requirements, age restrictions, residency qualifications, and associated permits, you’ll be well-prepared to get your license and enjoy fishing in the Keystone State’s abundant waters. Remember to buy your 2024 license early to take advantage of a full year of outdoor adventure! Tight lines!

Official Resources

For the most up-to-date information on Pennsylvania fishing licenses and regulations, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website or call (717) 705-7800.

Do I need to display my fishing license while fishing?

No, you are no longer required to visibly display your license. However, you must carry it with you either printed or digitally and be able to present it to a PFBC law enforcement officer upon request.

Can I get a refund or replacement if I lose my license?

Fishing licenses are non-refundable. If you purchased your license online, you can reprint it for free. Otherwise, you can replace it for $6.97 through the PFBC or an issuing agent.

Do I need a license to fish on my own private property?

Landowners and their immediate family members who reside on the property year-round may fish on their land without a license. All others must obtain a valid license, even if fishing on private property owned by a club, homeowner’s association, or friend.

Are there any free fishing days in Pennsylvania?

Yes, the PFBC offers two “Fish for Free Days” each year, typically the Sunday before Memorial Day and on July 4th. On these days, anyone can legally fish in PA waterways without a license. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Do I need to display my fishing license in PA?

Yes, anglers in Pennsylvania are required to display their fishing license on an outer garment while fishing. This makes it easier for waterways conservation officers to verify that you have a valid license.

Can I use my Pennsylvania fishing license in other states?

No, your Pennsylvania fishing license is only valid for fishing in the waters of Pennsylvania. If you plan to fish in other states, you’ll need to purchase a separate fishing license for each state you’ll be visiting.

What are the Pennsylvania fishing license requirements for non-residents?

Non-residents age 16 and older must purchase either an annual non-resident fishing license or one of the shorter-term tourist licenses (1-day, 3-day, or 7-day). Non-residents will also need to purchase any required permits, such as the trout permit or Lake Erie permit, depending on where and what they plan to fish.

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