Complete Guide to Fishing License Requirements in North Carolina

Fishing in North Carolina offers an array of experiences, from the serene inland waters to the adventurous coastal regions. Whether you’re a local angler or a visitor looking to explore the rich fishing grounds of the Tar Heel State, understanding the fishing license requirements is your first step towards a successful fishing trip. This guide provides everything you need to know about obtaining a fishing license in North Carolina, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your next fishing adventure.

Understanding Fishing Licenses in North Carolina

North Carolina’s diverse aquatic environments are home to a wide variety of fish species, making it a popular destination for anglers. To maintain the state’s natural resources and support conservation efforts, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) requires most anglers to obtain a fishing license.

Types of Fishing Licenses

  • Inland Fishing License: This license is your ticket to fish in North Carolina’s freshwater rivers, lakes, and streams. It’s perfect for those who prefer the tranquility of inland waters.
  • Coastal Recreational Fishing License: If you’re drawn to the allure of the ocean and plan to fish in coastal waters, this license is required.
  • Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License: For anglers who wish to explore both inland and coastal waters without the hassle of obtaining two separate licenses, this unified license offers the best of both worlds.
  • 10-Day Inland or Coastal Fishing License: Ideal for short-term visitors or tourists, these licenses allow for a brief yet fulfilling fishing experience in North Carolina’s waters.

Fishing License Fees

The cost of a fishing license in North Carolina varies based on the type of license, residency status, and duration. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Inland Fishing License: $25 for residents and $45 for non-residents annually. A 10-day option is available for $9 for residents.
  • Coastal Recreational Fishing License: $16 for residents and $32 for non-residents annually. A 10-day license costs $6 for residents.
  • Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License: $38 for residents and $68 for non-residents annually.

Note: Prices are subject to change, and additional options are available, including lifetime licenses and special rates for seniors and disabled veterans.

Where to Purchase Your License

Fishing licenses in North Carolina can be conveniently purchased online through the Go Outdoors North Carolina portal, in person at a wildlife service agent, or by phone. This flexibility ensures that you can obtain your license with ease, regardless of where you are or how you prefer to shop.

Exemptions and Special Considerations

Certain groups are exempt from the fishing license requirement, including children under 16 years of age, disabled veterans, and North Carolina residents who are legally blind. It’s important to check the latest regulations and exemptions to see if you qualify.

Why Your Fishing License Matters

Purchasing a fishing license isn’t just a legal requirement; it’s a contribution to conservation efforts and the sustainability of North Carolina’s aquatic ecosystems. The funds collected from license sales support fishery management, habitat protection, and educational programs that ensure the future of fishing in the state.

Embarking on Your Fishing Adventure

With your fishing license in hand, you’re ready to explore the rich waters of North Carolina. Whether you’re casting a line in the serene inland lakes or seeking the thrill of coastal fishing, remember to respect the environment and adhere to all fishing regulations. Check the current size and catch limits, and practice catch and release whenever possible to help preserve fish populations for future generations.


Fishing in North Carolina offers a unique blend of experiences for anglers of all levels. By understanding the licensing requirements and making responsible choices, you contribute to the conservation of the state’s natural resources. So, gear up, obtain your fishing license, and embark on an unforgettable fishing journey in the beautiful waters of North Carolina. Happy fishing!

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