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Home > Programs > Bureau of Natural Resources > Division of Fish & Wildlife > Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licenses

Division of Fish & Wildlife
Recreational Saltwater Fishing License Information

Welcome to the home page for the Rhode Island Recreational Saltwater Fishing License. To obtain your license, click the link on the left. If you have any questions regarding the license, please read the information provided below. After reading the information, if you still have questions, you may contact DEM's Marine Fisheries Program at (401) 423-1923 (M-F, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm).

Who needs a license?

In order to fish recreationally for finfish in Rhode Island's marine waters, saltwater anglers and spearfishers must have:
  • A RI Recreational Saltwater Fishing License, or
  • A National Saltwater Angler Registration, or
  • A recreational saltwater fishing license from a reciprocal state. Rhode Island honors recreational saltwater fishing licenses from New York, Connecticut, Massachusets, and Maine.
Where can I get a RI license?

Licenses are available online, via this website. Licenses are also be available from participating vendors throughout the State, including several bait and tackle shops.

What is the cost of the RI license?

The cost of a yearly RI license is $7 for Rhode Island residents, and $10 for non-residents. A temporary seven-day RI license is available, for both residents and non-residents, for $5. Those fees are set by state law, and are not subject to change.

What about seniors and active military personnel?

The is no fee for RI residents who are over the age of 65, or active military personnel stationed in RI, must obtain a free license.

Who is exempt from obtaining a license?

No license is required for:
  • Anglers who are under 16 years of age
  • Anglers fishing on licensed party or charter boats
  • Anglers who hold a license from a reciprocal state
  • Anglers who hold a NOAA Fisheries registation
  • Anglers who hold Highly Migratory Species Angling Permits
  • Anglers who are on leave from active military duty
  • Anglers who are blind or permanently disabled
  • Licensed commercial fishermen do not need a recreational license if they are fishing in commercial mode. However, they do need one if they are fishing in recreational mode.

  • Licensed party or charter boat operators do not need a recreational license if they have a RI Party and Charter Boat license and are fishing in party/charter mode. However, they do need a recreational license if they are fishing in recreational mode, without paying customers aboard.

  • Anyone who is a non-fishing passenger on a boat on which others are fishing does not need a recreational license, as long as the passenger does not engage in any angling or spearfishing activity.

  • Anyone who is recreationally fishing in a way that does not involve angling (defined as any use of a hook and line), or spearfishing (defined as any use of a spear or powerhead), does not need a recreational license. Thus, a recreational license is not needed to fish recreationally using recreational cast nets, minnow traps, dip nets, umbrella nets, seine, or eel pot. (But the state regulations covering recreational beach seines/bait nets must be adhered to when collecting bait species.)

  • A separate RI recreational lobster license is needed to take lobsters, and for non-residents, a separate recreational shellfish license is needed to take shellfish. Additionally, non-residents may not harvest blue crabs.
Where does the license apply?

RI waters: RI's recreational fishing license applies in all of RI's marine waters, which begin at the inland edge of all tidal water areas and extend seaward out to three miles. The defined boundaries separating RI's freshwaters and saltwaters can be found in section 2.6 of DEM's Freshwater and Anadromous Fishing Regulations.

Federal waters: The RI license also applies in all offshore federal waters, which extend seaward from the seaward edge of all state waters.

Other state waters: The RI license also applies in the state waters of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York, as well as in the waters of all other states that honor RI's license.

When does the license expire?

All yearly RI licenses expire each year on December 31. All yearly RI licenses must be renewed annually. All seven-day RI licenses expire seven days after their activation date.

Do I still need to follow all applicable rules and regulations governing marine recreational fishing?

Absolutely. The license simply enables you to fish legally, in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations. Go to DEM's marine fisheries home page for all relevant information. For a condensed version of the minimum sizes, possession limits, and seasons for recreational fisheries, go to the Legal Minimum Sizes and Possession Limits page.

What if I am not a RI resident, but have a license from my home state or some other state, and plan to fish in RI waters?

RI will honor any license from any state that also honors RI licenses. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York licenses are reciprocal, and so they apply in RI waters.

What if I am not a RI resident, and don't have a license from my home state or some other state, and plan to fish in RI waters?

You can readily obtain a RI non-resident license. However, be advised that you may or may not be able to use that license in your home state (e.g., if you are a Connecticut or Massachusetts resident, you will need to obtain a Connecticut or Massachusetts license to fish in Connecticut or Massachusetts waters).

Is a freshwater/hunting/saltwater combination license available?

No, not at this time, but DEM does intend to explore this as a future option.

How will the license fee revenues be used?

All license fees will be deposited in a restricted receipt account, managed by DEM. In accordance with the state law governing the license program, the license fee revenues can only be used to administer and enforce the license program, improve the management of RI's marine recreational fisheries, particularly with regard to developing more accurate assessments of recreational catch and effort, and enhance recreational fishing access opportunities in the State. The license fee revenues cannot be used for any purpose that is unrelated to marine recreational fishing in RI.

What is the purpose of the RI salt water license?

The state-license and federal-registry programs are designed to improve the quality of marine recreational fishing data. In turn, the improved data will help to ensure that recreational fishing regulations are fair, effective, and based on sound science. Additionally, the new programs will provide the first full accounting of the scope of recreational saltwater fishing in RI, and throughout the U.S., and will thereby help to more fully demonstrate anglers' economic, conservation, and marine stewardship contributions.

For General Information 222-6800 • After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 • Disclaimer
rev. 11/20/15