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How to Easily Get Your North Carolina Fishing License in 2024

As an angler eager to explore North Carolina’s diverse fishing opportunities in 2024, you may find the process of obtaining the necessary fishing license confusing or overwhelming. With different requirements for inland, joint, and coastal waters, as well as various license types and associated fees, it’s crucial to understand the steps to legally fish in the Tar Heel State.

Fear not! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of getting your 2024 North Carolina fishing license. We’ll cover everything from determining the right license type for your needs to purchasing options and even what to do if you misplace your license. By the end of this article, you’ll be fully prepared to obtain your license and start fishing worry-free.

With years of experience navigating North Carolina’s fishing regulations and helping countless anglers secure their licenses, we’ve gathered all the essential information you need in one place. Our expertise will ensure that you have a seamless experience getting your 2024 fishing license, so you can focus on what really matters – enjoying your time on the water.

Who Needs a North Carolina Fishing License?

Before diving into the different types of licenses and how to get them, it’s essential to know if you even need one. In North Carolina, anyone 16 years or older must have a valid fishing license to fish in any public water, including inland, joint, and coastal waters.

There are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Children under 16 years old can fish without a license
  • Anglers fishing on July 4th (Free Fishing Day) don’t need a license
  • North Carolina residents who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempt from needing a license for up to 30 days if they are on leave

It’s important to note that even if you’re assisting someone else with fishing, such as baiting hooks or removing fish from a line, you still need to have your own valid fishing license.

Types of Fishing Licenses in North Carolina

North Carolina offers two main categories of fishing licenses: Inland Fishing licenses for freshwater fishing and Coastal Recreational Fishing licenses (CRFL) for saltwater fishing.

Inland Fishing Licenses

  • Annual State Inland Fishing License: Allows fishing in all inland waters for one year from the date of purchase. As of 2024, the fees are $25 for residents and $45 for non-residents.
  • 10-Day Inland Fishing License: Perfect for short fishing trips, this license is valid for ten consecutive days. Residents pay $9, while non-residents pay $23.
  • Lifetime Inland Fishing License: Provides fishing privileges in North Carolina’s inland waters for the license holder’s entire life. Fees vary based on age and residency status.

As of 2020, trout fishing privileges are included with all inland fishing licenses, eliminating the need for a separate trout stamp.

Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses (CRFL)

  • Annual CRFL: Allows fishing in coastal and joint waters for one year from the date of purchase. Residents pay $16, and non-residents pay $32.
  • 10-Day CRFL: Ideal for vacationers or short trips, this license is valid for ten consecutive days. Fees are $6 for residents and $11 for non-residents.
  • Lifetime CRFL: Provides lifetime fishing access to coastal and joint waters. Fees vary based on age and residency status, with reduced rates for youth, infants, and seniors.

Combination Licenses

Anglers who enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing can take advantage of North Carolina’s convenient combination licenses:

  • Unified Inland/CRFL: Covers all inland, joint, and coastal waters for one year. Available to residents for $41.
  • Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL: The ultimate lifetime license for dedicated anglers and hunters, granting fishing privileges in all waters and hunting rights. Fees are based on age and residency status.

Fishing License Costs in North Carolina

The cost of your North Carolina fishing license depends on factors such as license type, duration, age, and residency status. Below are some of the most common license fees for 2024:

Annual Licenses

  • State Inland Fishing License: $25 (resident); $45 (non-resident)
  • Coastal Recreational Fishing License: $16 (resident); $32 (non-resident)
  • Unified Inland/CRFL: $41 (resident only)

Short-Term Licenses

  • 10-Day Inland Fishing License: $9 (resident); $23 (non-resident)
  • 10-Day CRFL: $6 (resident); $11 (non-resident)

Lifetime Licenses

  • Unified Sportsman/CRFL: $716 (resident); $1,643 (non-resident)
  • Adult CRFL (ages 12+): $265 (resident); $530 (non-resident)
  • Youth CRFL (ages 1-11): $159 (resident & non-resident)
  • Infant CRFL (under age 1): $106 (resident & non-resident)

Senior citizens (65+) and disabled individuals may qualify for reduced rates or free licenses. Always check the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) website for the most current pricing and any promotional offers.

Where to Buy Your North Carolina Fishing License

You have several convenient options for purchasing your 2024 North Carolina fishing license:

  1. Online: Visit the NCWRC website ( to buy your license instantly using a credit card. A $2 transaction fee applies.
  2. By Phone: Call 888-248-6834 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM, to purchase your license over the phone. Have your credit card ready.
  3. In Person: Stop by a Wildlife Service Agent, such as a tackle shop, sporting goods store, or Walmart, to buy your license. Use the agent locator on the NCWRC website to find a location near you.
  4. By Mail: Download an application from the NCWRC website, fill it out, and mail it with payment to: NCWRC, 1707 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1700.

Remember to have a valid photo ID on hand when purchasing your license, as you’ll need to provide proof of residency and age. Once you have your license, keep it on your person whenever you’re fishing, as wildlife officers may request to see it.

What to Do If You Lose Your Fishing License

Accidents happen, and it’s not uncommon for anglers to misplace their fishing licenses. If this happens to you, don’t worry! Follow these simple steps to get a replacement:

  1. Download and print the replacement license application from the NCWRC website.
  2. Complete the form with your personal information, including name, address, date of birth, and license type.
  3. Mail the application and a check or money order for the replacement fee ($1 for lifetime licenses; $7 for all other licenses) to: NCWRC, 1707 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1700.

Your replacement license will arrive by mail within 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, you can continue fishing as long as you have a copy of your original license or a receipt proving you purchased one.

Reciprocal Fishing Agreements with Neighboring States

North Carolina has reciprocal fishing agreements with some bordering states, allowing anglers to fish in certain shared waters with a valid license from either state. These agreements include:

  • Georgia: Fishing in the Chatuge Reservoir and its tributaries that are accessible by boat.
  • Tennessee: Fishing in Slick Rock Creek and Calderwood Reservoir when fishing from a boat.
  • Virginia: Boat fishing in portions of the Dan River, Staunton River, Kerr Reservoir, Gaston Reservoir, and the New River between the confluence of the North and South Forks.

Before fishing in any border waters, check the NCWRC website for specific regulations and updates to the reciprocal agreements.


Obtaining your 2024 North Carolina fishing license is a straightforward process that grants you access to the state’s incredible freshwater and saltwater fisheries. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to secure the appropriate license for your needs and hit the water with peace of mind, knowing you’re fully compliant with state regulations.

Remember, your fishing license fees directly contribute to the conservation and management of North Carolina’s fisheries, helping to ensure healthy fish populations and high-quality angling opportunities for generations to come. So, not only will you be enjoying unforgettable fishing experiences, but you’ll also be supporting the long-term sustainability of the state’s aquatic resources.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools to get your 2024 North Carolina fishing license, it’s time to start planning your next angling adventure. Whether you’re chasing trophy trout in the mountains, battling feisty bass in the Piedmont, or pursuing saltwater species along the coast, the Tar Heel State’s diverse waters have something to offer every type of angler.

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