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Getting a Missouri fishing license is required for any angler taking catch from the public waters of the state. Before applying for a license to fish, acquaint yourself with the state regulations and fishing license requirements. Missouri fishing licenses are handled by the MO Department of Conservation, which issues various types of fishing documents. For instance, if fishing is something you do for recreational purposes only, you may buy a fishing license online, from license agents or at any department office. However, if you fish for money and sell the catch to retailers or for wholesale, you must obtain a license to fish for business purposes. Missouri fishing permits are available to both residents and nonresidents, but there are a few exceptions available to residents only, such as the lifetime conservation partner (hunting and fishing) permit, the lifetime fishing permit, the White River Border Lakes permit (for Missouri and Arkansas residents only) and the small game hunting and fishing permit. Additionally, the MDC offers discounted fishing licenses to residents who are members of the National Guard on military duty, and free fishing licenses are issued to members of the U.S. military who are patients in a military medical center, a Warrior Transition Unit or a Warrior Transition Brigade. Some residents do not need to obtain a document before fishing, such as senior citizens older than 65 years of age, residents and visitors younger than 15 years of age, resident Missouri landowners who fish on their own land, disabled residents and more. For more information on how to get a fishing license in Missouri, click this link. The primary categories for fishing credentials in Missouri are:

  • New fishing licenses.
  • Commercial fishing licenses.

New Missouri Fishing Licenses

Anglers must get a fishing license in Missouri, regardless of the type of fishing in which they plan to engage. The many options for getting a license to fish are:

  • Online.
  • By phone.
  • From authorized vendors.
  • At department offices.

One of the fastest and most convenient ways to obtain a new license to fish in Missouri is to buy one online. The MDC makes it easy for fishing license applicants to apply online because of its MDC Permits system, where you can buy a fishing permit in a few simple steps. Before buying, the system will ask you for some personal information and the type of license you need. Make sure to prepare a credit or debit card to pay the license fees. Once you complete the process, you must print the license and have it on you at all times when fishing.

If you would like to order your Missouri permit to fish by phone, call 1-800-392-4115, and you will receive a confirmation number with which you can fish, until you receive your fishing license in the mail. You will be required to pay a license fee and a surcharge.

Buying a fishing permit in person can be done by finding an authorized license agent or an MDC office. Licensed agents can be found at certain sporting goods stores, fishing and hunting stores and hardware stores. Note that you may be asked for proof of your Missouri residence.

Note: As mentioned above, ensure that you need to purchase a fishing license before you send in your payment, as certain groups of individuals are not required to buy licensure.

Missouri Commercial Fishing Licenses

Missouri commercial fishing licenses are required if fishing is your business, i.e. if you fish to sell the catch to stores and customers for profit. This documentation can only be obtained through the MDC, and you can either look for the appropriate application on the MDC website or get a commercial fishing license online. If you decide to fill out a paper application, you will have to send the license fee as a check or money order and mail it together with the application to the MDC address. The same is true for nonresidents who would like to apply for a commercial fishing permit in MO. You can send the complete documentation to:

Missouri Department of Conservation Attn: Commercial Permits P.O. Box 180 Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180

Note: All commercial fishermen must submit monthly reports to the Missouri Department of Conservation about their commercial fishing activities. You can find the Commercial Fishing Monthly Harvest Report Form on the MDC website. Fill it out and send it to:

Commercial Fisheries
Missouri Department of Conservation
108 Ray Garlick Lane
Villa Ridge, MO 63089

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
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