License & Tag Information

Hunting Regulations Icon California Hunting

License Provisions

A valid California hunting license is required for taking any bird or mammal. Hunters must carry licenses and be prepared to show them on request (§700, T14, CCR). Guns and other equipment used in hunting must be shown on request. A trapping license is required to sell furs of furbearing mammals and nongame mammals, regardless of the method of take. Fur buyers and fur agents: See §696, T14, CCR; contact your nearest CDFW License Sales Office.

Residency: A resident is defined as any person who has resided continuously in California for six months immediately before the date of purchase of a license, tag or permit; persons on active duty with the armed forces of the United States or an auxiliary branch; or Job Corps enrollees. (§70, FGC)

Identification Required for License Purchase §700.4, T14, CCR

Any person applying for any license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement issued via the ALDS shall provide valid identification. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • Any license document or identification number previously issued via ALDS
  • Valid driver’s license or identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or the entity issuing driver’s licenses from the licensee’s state of domicile
  • US Birth Certificate/US Certificate or Report of Birth Abroad
  • INS American Indian Card
  • Birth certificate or passport issued from a US territory
  • US Passport
  • US Military Identification Cards (Active or reserve duty, dependent, retired member, discharged from service, medical/religious personnel)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Green Card) or Citizenship.
  • Foreign Government Identification Card

Applicants less than 18 years of age may provide any form of identification described above, or a parent or legal guardian’s identification as described above.

Validation of Licenses

To be valid, every California hunting or sport fishing license shall be signed by the licensee. In addition, the license must contain the following information about the licensee: true name, residence address, date of birth, height, color of eyes, color of hair, weight, and sex.

Hunter Education Requirement

Licenses shall be issued to hunters only upon presentation of one of the following: An annual California hunting license issued in any prior year; a two-day nonresident California hunting license issued after the 1999/2000 license year; a California certificate of hunter education completion or equivalency; a certificate of successful completion of a California-approved hunter education course from any state or province; or hunting license issued in either of the two previous years from any state, province, European country, or South Africa.

For more information, on hunter education requirements or hunter education classes, contact any CDFW license sales office or visit the CDFW web site at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.

Proof of Hunter Education Must be Provided to CDFW Before Hunting Items May be Purchased Online

Hunters who are purchasing a license for the first time through ALDS must provide their proof of hunter education to a CDFW license sales office or any license agent before they can purchase a hunting license or any hunting items online or by telephone. Hunters may contact CDFW via fax at (916) 419-7587 or e-mail LRB@wildlife.ca.gov and provide their personal identification and proof of hunter education so their hunter education can be entered into ALDS. Once this information has been entered into ALDS, the customer can obtain hunting items online.

Disabled Veteran Hunting Licenses

A reduced-fee hunting license is available for qualified disabled veterans.

To prequalify for a disabled veteran hunting license, submit a letter from the Veteran’s Administration documenting that you were honorably discharged from the US military and have a service–connected disability rating of 50% or greater. Send a photocopy of your identification, GO ID and documentation of eligibility by email to LRB@wildlife.ca.gov or by fax to (916) 419-7587. After your eligibility is verified, your customer record will be updated. Once you receive notification from the Department that your customer record has been updated, you will be able to purchase a low cost disabled veteran hunting license anywhere licenses are sold. You may also apply by mail or in person at any Department of Fish and Wildlife license sales office. For more information on the disabled veterans hunting license, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Hunting.

Recovering Service Member Reduced-Fee Hunting License

Reduced-fee hunting licenses are available for recovering service members. §7150, FGC, defines a recovering service member as a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy and is in an outpatient status while recovering from a serious injury or illness related to the member’s military service.

To prequalify for a recovering service member license, submit a letter from your commanding officer or from a military medical doctor verifying your eligibility as a recovering service member. Please have your commanding officer or military medical doctor include the expected recovery date in your verification letter. Send a photocopy of your identification, GO ID and documentation of eligibility by email to LRB@wildlife.ca.gov or by fax to (916) 419-7587. Once you receive notification from the Department that your customer record has been updated, you will be able to purchase a low cost recovering service member hunting license anywhere licenses are sold. You may also apply by mail or in person at any Department of Fish and Wildlife license sales office. For more information on disabled veteran hunting licenses, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Hunting.

Telephone Sales

Most hunting and sport fishing license items, including validations, drawing applications, and tags, may be purchased via telephone from Active Network’s telephone license sales line at (800) 565-1458. To purchase items via telephone, you must have hunter education on file in the ALDS. Items purchased by telephone sales will be delivered by mail within 15 days of purchase.

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is an agreement between 26 states, which allows for the reciprocal recognition of hunting, fishing and trapping license suspensions. If your license privileges have been suspended by another state, the suspension may be recognized here in California. For example, if your sport fishing, hunting or trapping privileges have been suspended in Colorado for five years, your privileges may also be suspended for five years in California or any of the states participating in the IWVC. The purchase of licenses or tags during the term of the suspension is a violation of the law and may result in prosecution. Licenses or tags purchased prior to or during a suspension are not refundable. For further information contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division, 1416 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 653-4094.

Get Outdoors Identification (GO ID)

All licenses are imprinted with your permanent GO ID number. Your GO ID can be used to retrieve your customer information in the future.

Protect Your License from Heat

License documents subjected to extreme or prolonged heat may darken and become difficult to read. To protect your license, keep it away from heat sources.

Duplicate Hunting Licenses

Under ALDS, your customer record will contain a history of all your license purchases. If you lose your license or additional validations, you can go to any CDFW license sales office or license agent and purchase a duplicate license and validations for a reduced fee.

General Tag Provisions

In addition to a California hunting license, license tags are also required and must be in possession when taking deer, bear, antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, wild pigs, and bobcats. Applicants for bear and wild pig license tags must be at least 12 years of age at the time of application. Applicants for deer tags must be at least 12 years of age on or before July 1 of the license year for which they are applying or at the time of application if they are applying after July 1.

Deer Tag Exchanges

Premium deer hunt tags cannot be exchanged. Restricted and Unrestricted deer hunt tags may be exchanged if all of the following conditions are met: 1) the earliest season for the tag being exchanged has not yet opened (archery); 2) the tag quota for the tag being exchanged has not filled; 3) tags are still available for the zone being requested; and 4) the exchange fee of $10.30 for the exchange tag accompanies your request. Deer tag exchanges are only processed at CDFW license sales offices.

Duplicate Big Game Tags

To replace a lost or destroyed deer, bear, elk, antelope or bighorn sheep tag, you must submit the duplicate tag fee of $10.30 and a Duplicate Big Game Tag Affidavit signed under penalty of perjury by the tag holder, confirming that the originally issued big game tag was lost or destroyed and cannot be recovered. Submit the fee and affidavit to the nearest CDFW license sales office. Contact your nearest CDFW license sales office for an affidavit or visit our web site at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34516&inline=1 .


Hunting Licenses

California resident and nonresident hunting licenses are nonrefundable.

Deer Tag Fees

Deer tag fees are nonrefundable, regardless of closures due to fire, weather or any other conditions (CCR T14-708.2),

Tag Information

Deer Tagging and Reporting Requirements
(Excerpts from CCR T14-708.5):

(a) Upon the killing of any deer the tag holder shall immediately fill out all portions of the tag including the report card completely, legibly, and permanently, and cut out or punch out and completely remove notches or punch holes for the month and date of the kill. The deer license tag shall be attached to the antlers of an antlered deer or to the ear of any other deer and kept attached during the open season and for 15 days thereafter. Except as otherwise provided, possession of any untagged deer shall be a violation. (Refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4336).

Tag Validation, Countersigning and Transportation Requirements
(Excerpts from CCR T14-708.6):

(a) Any person legally killing a deer in this state shall have the deer license tag validated and countersigned by a person authorized by the commission as described below before transporting such deer, except for the purpose of taking the deer to the nearest person authorized to countersign the license tag, on the route being followed from the point where the deer was taken (refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4341).

(b) No person may validate or countersign his/her own tag.

(c) Deer and Elk Tags, Persons Authorized to Validate.

(1) The following persons are authorized to validate or countersign deer and elk tags:

(A) State:

1. Fish and Game Commissioners

2. Employees of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, including Certified Hunter Education Instructors

3. Employees of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

4. Supervising Plant Quarantine Inspectors

5. Junior, Intermediate and Senior Plant Quarantine Inspectors

(B) Federal:

1. Employees of the Bureau of Land Management

2. Employees of the United States Forest Service

3. Employees of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service

4. All Uniformed Personnel of the National Park Service

5. Commanding officers of any United States military installation or their designated personnel for deer taken on their reservation.

6. Postmasters & Post Office Station or Branch Manager for deer brought to their post office.

(C) Miscellaneous:

1. County firemen at and above the class of foreman for deer brought into their station.

2. Judges or Justices of all state and United States courts.

3. Notaries Public

4. Peace Officers (salaried & non-salaried)

5. Officers authorized to administer oaths

6. Owners, corporate officers, managers or operators of lockers or cold storage plants for deer brought to their place of business.

Deer Head Retention Requirements and Production Upon Demand
(Excerpts from CCR T14-708.7):

Any person taking any deer in this state shall retain in their possession during the open season thereon, and for 15 days thereafter, that portion of the head which in adult males normally bears the antlers, and shall produce the designated portion of the head upon the demand of any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of this regulation (refer to FGC 4302).

Deer Violations, Tag Forfeiture
(Excerpts from CCR T14-708.8):

Any person who is convicted of a violation involving deer shall forfeit their current year deer license tags and no new deer license tags may be issued to that person during the then current hunting license year, and that person may not apply for a deer tag for the following license year (refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4340).

Tagging Requirements

After taking deer or bear you are required to immediately fill out the tag, permanently mark the date of the kill (notch tag) and attach it to the antlers of deer or the ear of a bear (FGC 4336, 4753). For wild pig the date of the kill shall be clearly marked on the tag and, prior to transporting, the tag shall be attached to the carcass ( FGC 4657).

Disabled Archer Permit

(Excerpts from CCR T14-354):

Upon application to the department, the department may issue a Disabled Archer Permit, free of any charge or fee, to any person with a physical disability, as defined in 354(k), which prevents him/her from being able to draw and hold a bow in a firing position. The Disabled Archer Permit authorizes the disabled archer to use a crossbow or device which holds a string and arrow in the firing position to assist in the taking of birds and mammals under the conditions of an archery tag or during archery season.

Reporting Requirements for Deer

(Excerpts from Section 708.5)

(b) Every person to whom a deer license tag is issued shall report to the Department their deer harvest.

  • Successful deer tag holders are required to report deer harvested within 30 days of the date of harvest or by January 31, whichever date is first.
  • Unsuccessful deer tag holders, whether they hunted or not, are required to report no harvest by January 31 annually.
  • Beginning July 1, 2016, deer tag holders, whether successful or unsuccessful, who fail to report by the date specified in this section shall be subject to a Deer Harvest Non-reporting Fee. The fee specified in Section 702 shall be charged prior to the issuance of a deer tag or deer tag drawing application in the following year.
  • If a report card is submitted by mail and not received by the Department, it is considered not reported.
  • Upon a successfully submitted report online, a confirmation number will be generated.
  • If you have an email address on file, an email will be sent upon completion of a successfully submitted report, whether it is reported by mail or online.