Conserving the Nature of America

Buying a fishing license

Walleye fishing in Wisconsin
Walleye fishing in Wisconsin. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS.

Getting ready to go fishing? First you’ll need a fishing license!

Buying a fishing license is quick, easy and directly contributes toward conservation efforts. In most states, licenses can be purchased online, by phone or at retail establishments.

Choose your location and get a license today:

Fishing funds conservation

In 2015 alone, fishing license sales generated more than $700 million across the country. One hundred percent of license fees go directly toward conservation and restoration, but licenses aren’t the only source of conservation funds. Each year, our Sport Fish Restoration Programdistributes millions of dollars to state fish and wildlife resource agencies dedicated to restoration and enhancement projects across the country. This user-pay user-benefit reimbursement program relies on an excise tax paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers of sport fishing equipment as well as small engine and motor boat fuel taxes paid by recreational boaters. Since 1952, more than $8 billion in Sport Fish Restoration Program grant funds have been distributed to state agencies for approved grants, reimbursing them up to 75% of project costs. This includes fish management, species and habitat restoration, habitat protection, land acquisition, research, education, and public access for fishing and boating.

Rainbow trout. Photo by USFWS.
Rainbow trout. Photo by USFWS.

By the numbers:

  • A tax of 10% on the sale price of sport fishing equipment
  • A tax of 3% on the sale price of electric outboard boat motors
  • A tax on motorboat and small engine fuel
  • Import duties of 1% to 2.7% on inflatable boats, sailboats, motorboats, rowboats and yachts
  • Import duties of 3.7% to 9.2% on fishing rods, fish hooks, fishing line, landing nets, artificial baits and flies, plastic tackle boxes, reels (depending on value), and reel parts

Thank you to all anglers, boaters, manufacturers and importers for supporting conservation while keeping our outdoor tradition alive!