Where to get a fishing licence in Canada

By George GruenefeldGeorge Gruenefeld

Angler at sunset

Photo by Sebastian Cote

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Want to go fishing but not sure where to get a licence? Here’s the lowdown for each province and territory.

Note: Provincial and territorial permits are not valid in Canada’s national parks. You can get day permits or, for less than the price of four day permits, a season permit at the park gates.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Licences are available from sporting goods stores, service stations and provincial government service centres.

Nova Scotia: All licences are available from 700 different vendors—tackle shops, convenience stores and such. Atlantic salmon licences are available at other outlets.

Prince Edward Island: Trout and salmon angling licences can be purchased from private vendors, listed by the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Forestry. You can also buy both fishing and hunting licences online. You’ll need a credit card for the purchase, which arrives via e-mail so you can print it yourself.

New Brunswick: Resident angling licences are available from tackle shops and convenience stores, but non-residents must go through regional offices of the Department of Natural Resources or Service New Brunswick Centres.

Quebec: Fishing licences are available at tackle shops as well as at the gates of provincial parks, wildlife reserves and controlled exploitation zones, as well as outfitting camps. Atlantic salmon licences, however, are most commonly available in areas which have Atlantic salmon rivers. (Here’s a list of permit vendors.) Carry a small Ziploc bag since the licences (except for the Atlantic salmon retention licence) are printed on thermal paper and tend to be somewhat fragile.

Ontario: This one gets complicated because, in order to buy a fishing licence, you need to have an Outdoors Card. The good news is you can apply for your Outdoor Card, along with your fishing licence, online, by phone 1-800-288-1155 or at a ServiceOntario location. If you go the online route, your e-licence will have a temporary Outdoor Card number validating the licence until you receive the Outdoor Card, usually about 20 days later. If you already have the Outdoors card, getting a licence is a matter of visiting an authorized issuer or applying online and printing it yourself.

Manitoba: Licences are available at many tackle shops, convenience stores and big box stores (Cabela’s, Walmart, Canadian Tire). Provincial Conservation and Water Stewardship offices also sell them. You’ll likely need to show ID, like a driver’s licence, when buying a resident angling permit.

Saskatchewan: Getting a license in Saskatchewan is easy. Go to a tackle shops or convenience store, give your name and address, pay your money and walk out. There’s a list of locations here, but it’s 368 pages long, so just search online to find the nearest one.

Alberta: You’ll need a Wildlife Identification Number to buy a fishing licence. If you don’t already have a number, get one at any of the dealers listed at My Wild Alberta. Your WIN costs $8, and is good for five years. Though the plastic wallet-size card takes a month or so to arrive, at time of purchase, you’ll be issued a number which allows you to buy a fishing licence right away and go fishing. If you have a current WIN, you’re one step ahead.

British Columbia: You’ll need either a freshwater or tidal water licence or both, depending on where you plan to fish. For the provincial freshwater licence, you can get both licences and special tags online. If you’ve used the system before, you can simply log on, select the licence and tag(s), and pay up by credit card, print out the licence and you’re good to go. If you haven’t used the e-licence system before, you’ll need to register. If you’d rather buy your licence the good old way or if you’re a non-resident angler, you’ll need to visit an authorized vendor or a Service B.C. Centre. For a convenient location, go to the B.C. Licence Vendor Search.

The tidal water permit is issued by the feds, and works the same way as the freshwater permit. New users to the online licensing system need to register, while those already registered simply log in. Select your licence and tags, pay by credit card and print out your licence. Browse other authorized vendors on this list. If you plan to retain salmon, make sure you get the required salmon tag.

Yukon: This licence process is easy. Go to a tackle shop or convenience store, put your money down, and buy the licence you need. You’ll find a list of vendors here. If you intend to fish for salmon, may as well get a Salmon Conservation Catch card at the same time, to record any and all salmon you catch.

Northwest Territories: All you have to do is buy a licence at a government office or store, and most of the fishing lodges have them as well. Download a list of authorized vendors.

Nunavut: This process is similar to that of the Northwest Territories next door: Get your licence at government offices, RCMP detachments and co-ops. If you’re fishing out of a lodge, they’ll be able to provide it.


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