Delaware Fishing License (2024): Types, Costs and How to Buy

Enjoy the great fishing on offer in Delaware the right way with this guide to state fishing licenses. Find out which license you need and where to get it

Delaware is a small state, but it has some big fishing opportunities.

The highlights are probably the striped bass fishing and the coastal and offshore opportunities.

It is important to have the right fishing license to fish in Delaware, whether that is in saltwater or freshwater. 

In this article, we’ve summarized the key types of license, how much they cost, what discounts or exemptions are available, and where to buy fishing licenses.

Fishing in Delaware

Freshwater fishing in Delaware is probably best in the north of the state, where there is good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Delaware has all the usual panfish, as well as catfish, carp, and pickerel, on offer, along with some trout fishing.

The jewel in the Delaware fishing crown is striper fishing, with good fishing in the Delaware River for this highly sought-after sports fish.

Offshore anglers enjoy good fishing for tuna, sharks, sheepshead, flounder and a range of other species.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Delaware?

Delaware requires anglers age 16 or older a fishing license for fishing, crabbing, or clamming in tidal and non-tidal waters. They are required by regulation to have a Delaware-issued Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number on an annual basis before fishing in Delaware waters. There is no fee for a FIN number. A FIN number is automatically issued with the purchase of a Delaware fishing license. 

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Delaware?

  • Residents and Non-Residents are exempt from fishing license requirements if they are the operator of a vehicle with a valid Delaware surf fishing vehicle permit when that vehicle is located on a designated Delaware State Park beach
  • Residents of the State of Delaware age 65 years and older
  • Children under the age of 16 (see here for info on how old you can be before you need a fishing license in other states)
  • Any resident who owns or lives on a farm in Delaware containing 20 or more acres and the members of his or her immediate family who reside on the farm may fish on that farm 
  • Any person age 16 and older who has not already obtained an individual recreational Fishing License and is fishing on a boat where the boat owner purchased a recreational Boat Fishing License
  • Any Delaware resident who is a patient in a rehabilitation hospital under the Department of Health and Social Services
  • Any Delaware resident who is legally blind (see more on other states that offer exemptions for anglers with a disability)
  • Any person who fishes in a fee-fishing facility registered as such with the Department of Agriculture

Fishing License Types in Delaware

One must purchase a fishing license before you go fishing, crabbing, or clamming in Delaware state. These licenses ensure that fish populations are protected and conserved to avoid species depletion through overfishing.

Some fishing licenses cost the same for both resident and nonresident, such as a 7-day tourist fishing license and group licenses for a boat.

Cost: How Much Is a Fishing License in Delaware?

Resident Fishing Licenses

A Delaware resident is someone who is domiciled in Delaware for any part of the tax year or maintains an abode in Delaware and spends more than 183 days here.

Here’s the list of the different fishing licenses a resident of Delaware state can avail.

Fishing License Type (Resident)Cost
General fishing license$8.50
Seven-day tourist fishing license$12.50
Group license for a boat, 20 ft or less (covers the holder and all occupants in the boat)$40
Group license for a boat over 20 ft (covers the holder and all occupants in the boat)$50
Head boat license$300
Charter boat license$150
Fishing guide license$100

Non Resident Fishing Licenses

These licenses are applicable to all visitors to Delaware who want to fish from other states or countries. Non resident licenses are typically more expensive, and you’re not eligible for certain types of licenses and discounts. 

Fishing License Type (Nonresident)Cost
General fishing license$20
Seven-day tourist fishing license$12.50
Group license for a boat, 20 ft or less (covers the holder and all occupants in the boat)$40
Group license for a boat over 20 ft (covers the holder and all occupants in the boat)$50
Head boat license$600
Charter boat license$300
Fishing guide license$300

An additional stamp to the license is required if you fish for freshwater trout

Trout StampResident CostNonresident Cost
Young Angler Trout Stamp (12-15 years of age)$2.10 $6.20 
Delaware Trout Stamp (16 to 64 years of age)$4.20 $6.20 

Who Can Purchase Discounted Delaware Fishing Licenses?

The Division of Fish and Wildlife provides licensing discounts and exemptions for active-duty military personnel and veterans with disabilities. Feel free to check other Exemptions and Exceptions here.

Federal Funding for Fish and Wildlife

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife uses a combination of federal funds and revenue from recreational licenses and permits to fund wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, public access, hunting, fishing, and other services.
Delaware receives federal funds from the Wildlife Restoration Act, the Sport Fish Restoration Act, and State Wildlife Grants to support wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing, boating, and education.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife provides required matching funds through permitting and licensing fees, conservation access pass fees, and the time and contributions of state employees and local volunteers.

Where Can I Buy a Delaware Fishing License?

Division of Fish and Wildlife

The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers licenses, permits, stamps, and passes for recreational fishing and hunting and for the use of Delaware Wildlife Areas.


You can purchase online through the new ePermitting system – Digital DNREC — that offers most recreational licenses, passes, permits, and stamps online. The new system offers online applications for permits and licenses and user accounts and profiles to allow users to manage their own portfolios of licenses and permits.

In-Person Options

Licenses, permits, stamps, and passes are also available in person at an authorized license agent or at the licensing desk inside DNREC’s Richardson and Robbins Building. You can always get your license at Walmart stores, too.


What Happens With Delaware Fishing License Fees?

All funds derived from the issuance of Delaware fishing licenses are dedicated to a special account for the purpose of matching and securing federal money allotted to the state under the provisions of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. Together, these funds support the restoration, conservation, management, and enhancement of sportfish and the provisions for public use and benefit from these resources.

Does Delaware Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Delaware does not have a reciprocity agreement with any other state at this time. Check out our state-by-state guides to fishing license costs, discounts for seniors and veterans, and where to buy.

Does Delaware Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

Delaware does not offer lifetime fishing licenses as of now. 

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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