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North Carolina Saltwater Fishing

NC offers various options for North Carolina saltwater fishing licenses. To fish on coastal waters, angler applicants must purchase an NC license to saltwater fish. A saltwater (coastal) permit to fish can be obtained in the same ways you can get an inland license to fish: online, in person or by phone. As various different types of fishing are available within the state of NC, there are also numerous different types of fishing licenses available for you to choose from.

If you would like to fish inside of inland waters, you will have to purchase a freshwater fishing license. However, if you would like to take fish from coastal waters or joint fishing waters, then you will have to purchase a coastal saltwater fishing license in North Carolina. You must learn all the details associated with your desired kind of permit before clicking "Buy Now." The coastal saltwater fishing permit umbrella has a number of different specific licenses for you to choose from, including credentials that are specific to youth, seniors, veterans, residents, nonresidents and more. All of these different fishing documents come with different costs and application processes. Furthermore, beyond simply learning how to apply for a license to fish in North Carolina, you must also become familiar with the process required to replace and renew your fishing credentials if and when the occasion arises. Read the information below to find out how and where to buy saltwater fishing licenses.


What is the difference between a resident and nonresident saltwater fishing license in North Carolina?

When it comes to buying a fishing license in North Carolina, the main difference between residents and nonresidents is the price that each group pays. Residents of NC pay smaller fees than their non-resident counterparts for the same type of licensure.

For your convenience, the state of North Carolina also allows applicants to buy a saltwater fishing license at any nearby Wal-Mart or fishing shop. At the time of your NC fishing permit application, you must furnish payment for any fees, as well as proof of identity and proof of residency (if applicable). Acceptable residential address documents may include a utility bill, a recent bank statement or a lease agreement.

It is important to note that proof of residency must be provided when purchasing a resident saltwater fishing license. Residency is established when an individual has lived in North Carolina for six months or when he or she has been domiciled within the state for a period of at least 60 days. If you intend to purchase your visitor or resident saltwater fishing license online, you may be charged an extra fee. In-state residents may need to show an NC driving license, and any additional documents may be used to verify their home address.

In addition to the differences in fees, certain kinds of saltwater fishing licenses are not made available to nonresidents. For example, the discounted lifetime fishing licenses that are for seniors and veterans are not obtainable by nonresidents of the same groups.

How can I get an NC saltwater fishing license replacement?

If you have a stolen, damaged, destroyed or lost fishing license in North Carolina, then you can apply for a duplicate license by mail. Fishing without the necessary credentials will result in disciplinary action. Violators will be fined for breaking state laws. The process to obtain a replacement saltwater fishing license involves completing and sending the application form to the designated Division of Marine Fisheries address. For a small fee, a duplicate fishing license will be mailed to you.

How do I perform a North Carolina coastal fishing license renewal?

North Carolina fishing licenses expire in the spring of the year following the date of issuance. Renewing fishing licenses is as simple as re-purchasing them from the Division of Marine Fisheries. Licenses can be renewed at any DMF office. Licensing transactions can also be performed online and over the phone.

Most coastal fishing permits have a validity period of one year or 10 days. Once these periods come to an end, the license holder is responsible for initiating the renewal process. Individuals who neglect to take these necessary steps and are caught fishing with expired documents will incur a fine from the Commission.

How can I fish for free in North Carolina?

In some cases, a license to fish in North Carolina is not necessary for anglers to take from the state's waters. One way in which anglers are able to legally fish for free comes in the form of the state's annual free fishing day. Every year on July 4, residents and visitors are allowed to fish without having to buy a fishing permit (coastal or inland). Although fishermen are free to catch as much fish as they can on this day, they still must continue to adhere to possession and size limits.

The other way that one can fish for free is based upon one's age/status. Anglers 16 years of age and younger, for instance, do not need to purchase fishing licensure. Also, those considered subsistence anglers can obtain a fishing license waiver from the Department of Social Services to be able to take fish for the purpose of feeding themselves and/or their families.

Are there reduced NC fishing license prices for veterans or seniors?

Saltwater fishing licenses in North Carolina are available at a discounted price for three segments of the population – military members and veterans, persons with disabilities and senior citizens. Veterans who are 50 percent disabled or more can obtain a lifetime combination hunting and fishing license, or a lifetime coastal license to fish for a nominal fee. Furthermore, active military members who are stationed in North Carolina but are not residents of the state can take advantage of resident pricing on fishing credentials. As for seniors, residents 65 years of age or older can purchase a lifetime coastal fishing document at a fraction of the cost of the regular fishing license.

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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