Iowa Fishing License (2024): Cost, Types and How to Buy

Iowa fishing license feature image

Iowa is known for having some of the best fishing opportunities in the Midwest.

Fishing for crappie, bluegill, and other panfish is first class.

Iowa’s lakes are famous for trout, northern pike, walleye, and muskie, while the river fishing is excellent for catfish and smallmouth bass

Having a fishing license is mandatory for Iowa and visitors alike.

We’ve compiled all the details on Iowa fishing licenses here, including cost, where to buy, and whether discounts are available.

Fishing in Iowa

Largemouth Bass Fly Fishing
Bass fishing can be great in the Mississippi in Iowa.

Before we explain all about how to get an Iowa fishing license, just a few brief words on the quality of fishing in Iowa.

There is a great diversity of fishing in Iowa, from the mountain trout fishing in the streams of the northeast to the backwater fishing for bass, catfish, and panfish in the Mississippi River.

On the western border of Iowa, the Missouri River offers excellent fishing for catfish and sauger. The southern part of the river is one of the only places in Iowa to catch blue catfish.

Who Needs a Fishing License In Iowa?

Iowa residents and nonresidents 16 years and older must have a valid fishing license on their person while fishing and have paid all applicable fees.

Iowa Fishing License Age

Iowa residents and nonresidents 16 years and older must have a valid fishing license on their person while fishing and have paid all applicable fees. Up until the age of 16, children can fish without needing to have a license. This is fairly standard, although some states require children to have licenses from 12.

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Iowa?

Below are the Iowa fishing license exemptions being offered.


Fishing License Costs in Iowa: All Types Explained

Iowa residents can choose a three-year, one-year, or any of the offered short-term licenses.

Resident Fishing License Cost

For the purposes of fishing or hunting in Iowa, you become a resident through the following:

  1. Iowa has been your principal and main residence or domicile for at least 90 consecutive days immediately before you apply for or buy a resident license, and you have an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID. Factors to determine your domicile include but are not limited to the place of employment, mailing (street) address, utility records, real estate records, vehicle registrations, and addresses listed on your state and federal income tax records.

You are not considered a resident under this paragraph if you live in Iowa only for a special or temporary purpose, including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, or trapping.

  1. You are a full-time student at an accredited educational institution in Iowa and live in Iowa while attending the educational institution, or are a full-time student under 25 years of age at an accredited educational institution outside the state as long as at least one parent or legal guardian maintains a principal and main residence in Iowa.
  2. You are a student who qualifies as a resident pursuant to the above paragraph only to buy any resident license specified in section 483A.1 or 484A.2.
  3. You are a nonresident under 18 years of age with a parent who is a legal resident of Iowa.
  4. You are a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is serving on active duty, claims residency in Iowa, and has filed a state individual income tax return for the preceding year, or is stationed in Iowa.


Fishing License Type (Resident)Cost
Resident Fishing$22.00
Angler’s Special – 3 Year Fish$62.00
Bonus Line – 3rd Fish Line$14.00
Lifetime Fishing (65 years old & older)$61.50
Lifetime Trout Fee (65 years old & older)$65.00
Outdoor Combo – Hunting / Fishing / Habitat$55.00
Resident Trout Fish Fee$14.50
Resident 1-Day Fishing$10.50
Resident 7-Day Fishing$15.50
Resident Boundary Water Trotline$26.00

Non-Resident Fishing License Costs

A nonresident is a person who does not live in Iowa. Iowa residents who have previously hunted, fished, and/or trapped as nonresidents should plan ahead to get license privileges as soon as possible. 

Fishing License Type (Resident)Cost
Nonresident Fishing$48.00
Bonus Line – 3rd Fish Line$14.00
Nonresident Trout Fish Fee$17.50
Nonresident 1-Day Fishing$12.00
Nonresident 3-Day Fishing$20.50
Nonresident 7-Day Fishing$37.50
Nonresident Boundary Water Trotline$49.50
Black crappie fisherman holding it by the mouth half in the water
Crappie fishing in Iowa is first-class.

Who Can Purchase Discounted Iowa Fishing Licenses?

There are no discounts for fishing licenses in Iowa, but rather, they have exemptions.

Special Fishing Licenses in Iowa

Special fishing licenses are offered to Iowa residents. Applications for and help with these special licenses are available at the DNR central office by calling 515-725-8200 or DNR offices that sell hunting and fishing licenses.

  1. Free Annual Fishing or Combination Hunting and Fishing licenses – Available to low-income Iowa residents 65 years or older or low-income permanently disabled residents.
  2. Disabled Veteran’s License – Available to Iowa residents who served for a minimum aggregate of 90 days of active federal service and who have a service-connected disability or were a prisoner of war during their military service (see here for a full list of states that provide discounts for veterans on fishing licenses).

Where Can I Buy an Iowa Fishing Licence?

IOWA Department of Natural Resources

It’s so easy to buy your fishing license. It’s either you do it online or visit one of the 700 local retailers and bait shops. And, of course, you can always buy your license in person at Walmart stores.

Iowa Fishing License Online (or by Phone)

You may purchase online here, or you may call 1-800-367-1188.

At a Vendor

Click here to visit one of the 700 local retailers.

See also:

What Happens With Iowa Fishing License Fees?

Fishing license fees are used to help protect and enhance quality fish populations and opportunities for all Iowans.

Does Iowa Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Fish privileges and mutual understanding are present in the neighboring states of Iowa since it has entered into a reciprocal license arrangement with the following states: 

Click here to learn more about the details of the arrangement. 

Does Iowa Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

There are only 2 lifetime fishing licenses offered in Iowa for 65 years old and older. It is the Lifetime license and LifetimeTrout Fee.

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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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