The services that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission provides to the public are financed primarily through the sales of licenses, which include hunting, fishing, trapping and other licenses. The various types of licenses sold by the Commission differ with respect to the activities they authorize, where and when the activities occur, and where the license-holder resides. This section provides some general information about these licenses, followed by detailed summaries of the various licenses available, the privileges they authorize and the associated fees. All licenses are nontransferable.
You can purchase a license for immediate use in four ways as listed below. A $2 transaction fee may be applied to your total order at time of purchase. Due to the sensitive nature of the documentation required some license items are only available directly through the Commission by mail or in person.
- Visit a wildlife service agent
- Visit ncwildlife.org
- Phone 888-248-6834
- All licenses may be obtained directly from the Wildlife Resources Commission in person at NCSU Centennial Campus, 1751 Varsity Drive, Raleigh, N.C. or by mail at NCWRC, 1707 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1700.
Disabled licenses and permits are available to North Carolina residents and must be obtained directly from the Wildlife Resources Commission. The Commission does not honor disabled licenses or permits from other states. To learn more about disabled licenses or to obtain an application, visit ncwildlife.org or call 888-248-6834.
For more information regarding licenses, obtaining a replacement license, requesting an application, or finding a Wildlife Service Agent nearest you, visit ncwildllife.org, or call 888-248-6834.
Reciprocal Fishing License Agreements
A reciprocal fishing license agreement is in effect between North Carolina and each of the states listed below. The agreement provides for the following: All statewide hook-and-line fishing licenses obtainable from either North Carolina or the respective state are honored on certain boundary waters as noted:
The agreement with Georgia covers fishing from boats not anchored to the shore or to a pier or boat dock connecting to the shore on Chatuge Reservoir including all tributaries that are accessible by boat from the main body of the reservoir.
The agreement with Tennessee covers the state-line portion of Slick Rock Creek and Calderwood Reservoir.
The agreement with Virginia covers boat fishing the Dan River east of the Union Street Dam in Danville, the Staunton River east of the mouth of Difficult Creek, and Kerr and Gaston reservoirs and their tributaries that are accessible by boat. The agreement also covers that portion of the New River between the confluence of the North and South forks of the New River in North Carolina (Alleghany County) and the confluence of the New and Little rivers in Virginia (Grayson County).
No reciprocal agreements exist between North Carolina that provide for honoring the other state’s fishing licenses on any boundary waters.
Wildlife Endowment Fund
The Wildlife Endowment Fund supports North Carolina’s rich wildlife heritage and conservation programs. Funds from lifetime license sales are deposited directly into the Wildlife Endowment Fund and donations can be made directly to the Fund. For additional information, visit ncwildlife.org/GiveDonate.
License Requirements and Exceptions
License Identification Requirements
To show entitlement to a license issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission, anyone exercising the privileges conveyed by the license shall carry a picture identification card and show it to any wildlife enforcement officer upon request. The picture identification card should include the license-holder’s correct name, address and date of birth. (A North Carolina Driver License or Department of Motor Vehicles identification card is acceptable.)
Residency Definitions and Requirements
You are considered a resident if you have resided in the state for six months or have been domiciled (established a permanent residence) for 60 days. When residency is used to establish eligibility, applicants must complete a Certificate of Residency, available from a wildlife service agent or the Wildlife Resources Commission, certifying that they have maintained residence in a county of the state for at least 60 days with the intent to reside there permanently. Individuals claiming residency in another state cannot claim to be a resident in N.C. regardless of whether they own property, pay property tax, pay utility bills, etc., in N.C. Residency can only be established in one state.
Nonresident students may purchase a resident license while attending a university, college or community college in North Carolina. When purchasing your license from a Wildlife Service Agent, you must show your valid student identification.
Military Stationed In N.C.
Nonresident members of the U.S. Armed Forces (including their spouses and children under 18) who are stationed in the state are deemed residents of the state and of the counties in which they reside for the purpose of purchasing resident licenses.
Military Stationed Outside N.C.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty outside of North Carolina shall be deemed an individual resident of the State for the purpose of purchasing short-term and annual hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.
Nonresident status applies to anyone who does not live in the state of North Carolina, with the exceptions noted above (students and military).
Hunter Education Course Requirement
Except as specified below, on or after July 1, 2013, a person, regardless of age, may not purchase a hunting license in this state without producing one of the following: a hunter education certificate of competency, a N.C. hunting heritage apprentice permit, or a N.C. hunting license issued prior to July 1, 2013.
A person who wishes to purchase a lifetime license need not comply with the requirements above in order to purchase that license, so long as the person does not hunt unless they have successfully completed the hunter education course or they are accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is licensed to hunt in N.C. and that the licensed adult maintains a proximity to the hunter, which enables the adult to monitor the activities of the hunter by remaining within sight and hearing distance at all times without the use of electronic devices.
Hunter education courses are offered in all 100 counties and online. For more information visit ncwildlife.org/HunterEd or call 919-707-0031.
Exceptions to License Requirements
- A landowner or person leasing land primarily for cultivation, their spouse, and dependents under 18 residing with them, may hunt, “trap,” and fish on such land without a license.
- A resident of this state who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces serving outside N.C., or a N.C. resident who is on full-time military duty outside the state in a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces is exempt from hunting, inland and coastal fishing license requirements while on leave in this state for 30 days or less. When hunting or fishing under this exemption you must carry, on your person, your military ID card and a copy of the official document confirming you are on leave from a duty station outside of N.C. Individuals hunting bear must purchase a Bear Management E-Stamp. You must also comply with all reporting and hunter safety requirements as mandated by the Commission and purchase a federal duck stamp if waterfowl hunting.
Individuals exempt from the requirements of a hunting license must obtain a License-Exempt Big Game Harvest Report Card when hunting deer, bear or wild turkey. Those hunting bear must also obtain a Bear Management E-Stamp.
Individuals exempt from hunting and fishing license requirements must adhere to designated seasons and limits.
Hunting and Trapping
- Youth under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of a hunting license provided they comply with the following:
- Youth who have not obtained a Certificate of Competency showing their completion of the hunter safety course must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult when hunting.
- Youth who have obtained a Certificate of Competency, may hunt without being accompanied by an adult, but must carry their certificate while hunting.
- Youth exempt from the hunting license requirement must obtain a License-Exempt Big Game Harvest Report Card when hunting deer, bear or wild turkey.
- Youth hunting bear must also obtain a Bear Management E-Stamp.
- Youth under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of a trapping license.
- Youth under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of any fishing license.
- All licenses that authorize inland fishing include fishing in any waters on game lands or Wildlife Conservation Areas.
- An inland fishing license is not required to fish in a private pond. A private pond is a body of water arising within and lying wholly upon the lands of a single owner or a single group of joint owners or tenants in common, and from which fish cannot escape, and into which fish of legal size cannot enter from public waters at any time. A pond or lake located on land owned by a public body such as a state-supported university or a governmental entity is not a private pond.
- July 4th is declared “Free Fishing Day,” and a fishing license is not required in any public waters, including coastal and trout waters, on this date.
- A resident or nonresident of this State who served as a member of the Armed Forces and who separated under honorable conditions is exempt from the Mountain Heritage Trout fishing license requirements while fishing in waters designated by the Wildlife Resources Commission as Mountain Heritage Trout waters. In order to qualify the individual shall have valid documentation of their service on his or her person at all times during the fishing activity.
- Residents with a valid Unified Subsistence Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License Waiver are exempt from the requirement of a inland and coastal recreational fishing license. See Fishing Licenses for more details.