Who Needs a License?
Everyone must have a valid fishing license in their possession while fishing, except:
- Persons under 16 years of age.
- When fishing waters of the Marine District or in the Hudson River south of the Troy Barrier Dam.Note: A fishing license is required on the entire length of all Hudson River tributaries south of the Troy Dam to the Tappan Zee Bridge even if the tributary is subject to tidal flow.
- When fishing on licensed fishing preserves.
- Citizen-resident owners, lessees and citizen members of their immediate families occupying and cultivating farm lands, when fishing on their own lands.
- Persons holding farm fish pond licenses and members of their immediate families, when fishing on waters covered by their licenses.
- Resident parties at United States Veterans Administration hospitals, Department of Mental Hygiene institutions, and Department of Health rehabilitation hospitals, and inmates at Division of Youth rehabilitation centers. A free permit is available from: NYSDEC License Sales, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-4790.
License Privileges and Requirements
A fishing license or combined hunting and fishing license entitles the holder to: take fish by angling, spearing, hooking, longbow, and tip ups; take frogs by spearing, catching with the hands or by use of a club or hook; and take bait fish for personal use, all as provided by the laws and regulations of the Department of Environmental Conservation:
- The holder of a license shall have such license on the holder’s person while exercising any privilege of that license.
- The holder of a license shall exhibit it on demand to any police officer, peace office, or the owner, lessee, or other person in control of the lands or waters on which the license holder is present.
- No license authorizes the holder to trespass upon private lands or waters or interfere with property belonging to another person.
To qualify for a resident license, one must be domiciled in New York State for more than 30 days immediately preceding date of application for a license. Property ownership in New York State is not a residency criterion.
Residency is that place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home and to which such person (regardless wherever temporarily located) always intends to return, evidence of which includes that such person votes or is registered to vote in that place in elections for any public office other than school board (if under 18, the residence of parents or legal guardian shall be deemed such person’s residence).
Active members of the United States Armed Forces stationed in the State, and full-time college students (citizen) in residence in the State during the school year (proof required) also qualify for resident licenses.
License Eligibility Requirements
Mandatory Hunter Education: A hunter education course is required for persons who cannot show proof that they have ever possessed a hunting license. The general course is a minimum 10 hours in length. DEC honors hunter education certificates and sporting licenses from all other states and countries.
Mandatory Bowhunter Education: Hunters wishing to bowhunt for Big Game must take an additional 8 hour minimum bowhunter education course. DEC also honors bowhunter education certificates issued by:
- National Field Archery Association or National Bowhunter Education Foundation or International Bowhunter Education Program issued in 1974 or later in any state or country,
- Any state or provincial fish and wildlife agency (certificate or card must specify the course was for bowhunting and not a general hunting course with a bowhunting segment),
- Ontario Bowhunters Association (on green or brown letterhead stationery with moosehead-bow and arrow emblem until July 31, 1987), or
- Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (on letterhead after August 1, 1987).
For information on hunter education courses in your area, contact a DEC Regional Office near you or call 1-888 HUNT ED 2.
To qualify for a resident license, a person must live in New York State for more than thirty days immediately prior to date of application. Land ownership in New York does not make you a resident. Residency is that place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home (regardless wherever temporarily located), such as where a person is registered to vote. If under 18, the residence of parents or legal guardian shall be deemed such person’s residence.
Active members of the US Armed Forces stationed in NY and full-time college students in residence in the State during the school year (proof required) qualify for annual resident licenses.
Minimum Hunting Age
Minors under the age of 12 may not obtain a hunting license or hunt wildlife.
Licenses and permits are valid from October 1 through September 30. To hunt in small game or big game seasons starting prior to October 1, the previous year’s license is required. Previous year big game licenses are available at all license issuing agents.
- A license, permit, tag or stamp (except Deer Management Permits) is not transferrable and may be used only by the person to whom issued.
- It is not legal to possess another person’s license, permit or stamp (except a transferred Deer Management Permit) while hunting, unless accompanied by the person to whom issued.
- A license to hunt, trap or fish does not give the holder any right to go on private property without permission of the land owner.
- You can legally purchase and possess only one big game or sportsman license per year.
- It is illegal to refuse to show your license on demand to a law enforcement officer or the owner, lessee or person in control of the lands (or their designees) while on their property.
- Make sure that your license has all the correct information. Carefully check it immediately after purchase or as soon as delivered in the mail. If you discover an error, have it corrected as soon as possible. Errors render a hunting or fishing license invalid.
Must be visibly displayed on the middle of your back while hunting, except in the Northern Zone and Catskill Park.
Small Game License Exceptions
All residents must have a valid hunting license in their possession except:
- Resident owners primarily engaged in farming, lessees and members of their immediate families do not need a hunting license when hunting on farm lands they are occupying and cultivating.
- Native Americans living on a reservation do not need a hunting license while hunting on reservation lands.
To hunt turkey, all hunters must purchase a turkey permit. There are no exceptions. .
Free hunting and trapping licenses are available to members of the Shinnecock and Poospatuck tribes and members of the Six Nations residing on reservations in the state. Some Reservations issue the new DEC Automated Licenses (DECALS) but not all. In order to obtain a license based on the above status, you can either apply through your Reservation Tribal Office, if applicable, or print out and complete the general sporting license application found on the DEC website (http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/365.html) under the “Free” Section and include the following documents:
- Copy of Native American ID Card
- Copy of NYS Residency Proof
- Copy of certification of residency on reservation – from Tribal Chief or Council
- Copy of previous license or Sportsman Education Certificate for hunting, bowhunting, muzzleloading and/or trapping licenses.
Native American applicants must mail their applications to:
License Sales Unit
625 Albany, NY 12233-4790
Free Small/Big Game, Fishing and Trapping licenses are also available to NYS residents who have the appropriate Sportsman Education and are active service members of the NYS Militia, US Reserve Forces or certain members of the US Armed Forces.
Beginning with the 2002/2003 license year a lost license, back tags, big game carcass tag sets and turkey permits may be replaced at any licensing issuing agent for a fee of $5 per license type being replaced and $10 per Carcass Tag Set. For example, replacing a Sportsman, a Bowhunting, a Turkey Permit and a Muzzleloading license would cost $5 x 4 license types equaling $20 and $10 x 4 Carcass tag sets equaling $40. (Even though there are four carcass tags with your turkey permit, they are considered a set and would cost $10 for all four). There is no charge to replace a lost back tag.
A Falconry License authorizes the licensee to obtain, buy, sell, barter, possess, and train raptors for use in the sport of falconry, or the pursuit of small game.