Purchase a North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License

Recreational fishermen can purchase a license to fish for personal consumption in the ocean, sounds and coastal rivers.

North Carolina’s Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL), administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries, can be purchased on a 10-day, annual or lifetime basis, or combined with a variety of hunting and inland fishing licenses issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

The license allows recreational fishermen to fish for personal consumption; finfish harvested under this license cannot be sold. Fishermen using this license are held to the state’s recreational size and possession limits. Fishermen holding the CRFL are required to comply with all DMF sampling and survey programs. The license cannot be assigned or transferred and is required for ANY type of recreational finfish taken not included under the Recreational Commercial Gear License. To learn more about the Recreational Commercial Gear License, please visit the division's Recreational Commercial Gear License webpage.

The CRFL is required to recreationally take finfish in the Coastal Fishing Waters, as defined by N.C.G.S. § 113-129 (4). Recreational fishing in Joint Waters (areas managed by both the Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources commissions) will also require either the CRFL or a WRC inland fishing license.

How to Purchase a License

  • 1

    Determine where you want to fish:

    Depending on where you are intending to fish, you might not even need a Coastal Recreational Fishing License. There are three waterbody designations in North Carolina:

    1. Inland Waters (freshwater rivers and lakes)
    2. Coastal Waters (ocean, estuaries)
    3. Joint Waters

    If fishing in Inland waters, the only fishing license required is the Wildlife Resources Commission's Inland Fishing License. However, if fishing in Coastal waters you are required to have a Coastal Recreational Fishing License. When fishing in Joint Waters, either fishing license will suffice. To help determine which waterbody designation you will be fishing in, see this interactive map from the Wildlife Resources Commission. You must zoom in to the area your fishing to be able to see the boundaries. Coastal waters are outlined in blue, joint waters are outlined in red, and inland waters are not outlined.

    WRC's Interactive Fishing Areas Map

  • 2

    Choose which license is best for you:

    Licenses are available on an annual, lifetime, and temporary basis. Depending on how often you intend fish, there may be more economical license choices than just your typical Annual license. If only fishing for a short period of time, you may purchase a short-term license that authorizes fishing for ten consecutive days at a reduced cost. If you intend to fish in North Carolina for years to come, it may make more sense to purchase a Lifetime license that authorizes fishing for the rest of your life.

    Learn more about the different Coastal Recreational Fishing License types available

    Learn more about the different Inland Recreational Fishing License types available

  • 3

    Decide how you want to purchase your license:

    We want to make getting a license as hassle-free as possible, so there a multiple options for purchasing a license. See those options below.