Apply for a General Fishing Licence (sportfishing)
To fish for any species of fish (except salmon) in fresh water in Nova Scotia, you need to have a General Fishing Licence. You also need to follow provincial and federal fishing rules, including seasons, gear and bag limits. A General Fishing Licence isn’t valid for salmon fishing.
You need to have a General Fishing Licence to fish for any species of fish (except salmon) in fresh water in Nova Scotia. There’s a separate licence to fish for salmon.
You can apply for a seasonal (annual) licence or a 1-day licence. The seasonal (annual) licence is valid from 1 April of the current year to 31 March of the next year. The 1-day licence is valid for 1 day only.
When you apply for the 1-day licence, you need to confirm what date you’re going to use the licence to fish. You can only fish on that day.
You can apply for a 1-day licence more than once in the same season if the dates you’re going to use the licence to fish are different dates.
Where you can and can’t fish
As a licence holder, you’re allowed to fish in lakes, rivers and streams during the open fishing season. You aren’t allowed to fish in privately owned fishponds, rearing ponds, nature reserves or national parks.
You don’t need a licence to fish in tidal or salt water, but you need to follow federal and provincial rules while fishing.
Fishing rules and limits
You need to follow provincial and federal fishing rules while fishing, including:
- when and where you can fish
- species, size and number of fish you can keep
- what you can use for bait and tackle
- what you can and can’t do in specific locations
You need to carry your licence with you while fishing. Print a paper copy of your licence. Or have the licence available for viewing on your phone.
Learn more about the fishing rules in the Anglers’ Handbook.
You need to submit a General Fishing Licence Report Card within 7 days of the end of the fishing season (even if you didn’t catch any fish).
You can replace a lost licence at your local Department of Lands and Forestry office.
If you have a disability
If you have a disability, you may qualify for a General Fishing Licence at no cost. Contact your local Department of Lands and Forestry office for more information.
You need to be 16 or older to apply for a General Fishing Licence. You don’t need a licence if you’re 15 or younger. Both residents and non-residents need to apply.
You’re considered a resident if you meet at least 1 of these criteria:
- you’ve lived in Nova Scotia for at least 2 months immediately before applying for a licence
- you were born in Nova Scotia and own real estate in the province
- you’re an officer of a diplomatic or consular service of any foreign country stationed in Nova Scotia
- you’re a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or the Canadian Armed Forces stationed or born in Nova Scotia
How to apply
- Apply online for the licence.
- Check the application for details on all required supporting documents.
- Include payment with your application.
- Submit your completed application, supporting documents and payment.
- The Inland Fisheries Division emails you the licence. Keep a copy for your records.
How long it takes
You get the licence right away. It can take longer if more information is needed or if your application hasn’t been filled in correctly.
|Seasonal licence (residents and non-residents age 16 and 17)
|Seasonal licence (residents age 18 to 64)
|Seasonal licence (residents age 65 and older)
|Seasonal licence (non-residents age 18 and older)
|Seasonal licence (residents and non-residents age 18 and older who have a disability)
|1-day licence (residents and non-residents age 16 and 17)
|1-day licence (residents and non-residents age 18 and older)
|Replacement licence (residents and non-residents)
Credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover), debit card, cheque, money order, cash. Make your cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance. Payment options may vary depending on how you apply.
When you pay online you need to pay the fee by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Visa Debit, Debit Mastercard).
Before you start
Make sure you:
- know what day you want to fish if applying for a 1-day licence
- have an email address if applying online (this is where the licence is sent)
When you apply online you need an email address so you can get the licence.
You can apply for and buy a licence at a fishing licence vendor if you’re unable to apply online. Take your proof of age and residency (like a Driver’s Licence or Health Card) to the fishing licence vendor when applying.
You can’t renew your General Fishing Licence, but you can apply for a new one.