Licensing - Frequently Asked Questions
- I've never purchased licenses on the Internet before. How do I use MassFishHunt?
- Online shopping is similar to grocery store shopping in that you, the Customer, can select among several items for purchase, individually placing each item in a "shopping cart". Once you have finished shopping, you have the option of paying for all items in your shopping cart, adding new items, or removing existing items. In MassFishHunt, all licenses, permits, and stamps must be purchased with an accepted credit card.
- What types of licenses CAN be purchased via MassFishHunt?
- MassFishHunt was designed to provide "one-stop shopping" for outdoor recreational licenses, permits, and stamps. Through this site, you will be able to buy a Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, or Sporting license; a Recreational Lobster Permit, and the new Recreational Saltwater Fishing permit.
- What types of licenses CANNOT be purchased via MassFishHunt?
- MassFishHunt only issues recreational licenses, permits, and stamps. Commercial fishing permits issued by the Division of Marine Fisheries and special licenses and permits issued by the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (e.g. scientific collection, taxidermy, etc.) are not currently available online. In addition, some licenses and permits that require additional documentation are not offered online (e.g. resident alien hunting licenses require alien gun permit, minor hunting/sporting licenses requiring proof of age and parental consent, etc.)
- How do I know if I am an Existing or New Customer?
- If you were previously issued a Massachusetts Recreational Lobster permit (10-pot or diving) or an online Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, or Sporting license via the Department's former licensing system - 'MassOutdoors', chances are you're an Existing Customer. Your Customer ID appears on your license or lobster permit as well as the corresponding renewal notices.
- If you have never been issued a Massachusetts Recreational Lobster permit (10-pot or diving) or an online Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, or Sporting license via 'MassOutdoors', chances are you're a New Customer.
- The system will issue you a Customer ID after you submit your personal information via the Customer Profile Summary screen. Your Customer ID will not change, and you should use it for all future visits to MassFishHunt.
- I have determined that I am an Existing Customer. How do I know what licenses and permits I have in the MassFishHunt system?
- Existing Customers can view their inventories of licenses, permits, and stamps at any time by clicking the 'License Inventory / Reprint' link on the Customer Menu. The License Inventory / Reprint screen will display Purchase Dates, Item Names, and Valid From / Valid To dates for your active items.
- What is my Customer ID?
- The Customer ID is a system-generated number that uniquely identifies each customer/licensee record. Existing Customers can use the Customer ID to identify themselves during Internet licensing sessions as well as at authorized Point-of-Sale Locations.
- I created a New Customer record for myself and later realized that I was already in the database. Will this create a problem?
- In order for us to maintain complete and accurate records of all licenses and permits, we need to have ONE Customer record for each licensee. If you have accidentally duplicated your Customer record, please contact us immediately at 617-626-1520 or 617-626-1590.
- What will my e-mail address be used for?
- Providing your e-mail address is entirely up to you; however, we believe that it improves our ability to communicate with you in the future when there are important announcements, regulatory changes, and other information that is important to you.
- How can I find out in advance what the various licenses, permits, and stamps cost?
- The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game website provides links to license and permit fee information on the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Division of Marine Fisheries websites. Check these pages for additional information regarding costs and special requirements.
- Can I pay for my lobster permit and freshwater fishing license at the same time?
- Yes! A major goal of the MassFishHunt initiative was to provide "one-stop shopping" for you the Customer. Through this system, you will be able to select from a variety of licenses, permits, and stamps offered by the Divisions of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) and Marine Fisheries and make a single payment using one of the accepted credit cards.
- Can I purchase licenses for others as gifts?
- Yes, you may purchase licenses, permits, and stamps for others; however, please remember to use the gift recipient's personal information (not your own personal information) when completing the Customer Profile Summary.
- Which credit cards are accepted by "MassFishHunt"
- Currently, we accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Please note that your credit card statement will reference all MassFishHunt transactions as "ACT*MADFG MassFishHunt 615-263-4257".
- Does the system accept debit cards?
- Currently, MassFishHunt only accepts credit cards. However, if your debit card bears the logo of one of our accepted credit card companies, you can probably use this card. If your debit card has no credit card company logo (i.e. it can only be used as an ATM card with a PIN), you will not be able to use this card.
- How can I be sure my credit card information is secure?
- Once you enter MassFishHunt, your transmissions with us are encrypted using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. We use standard security measures to ensure that your personally identifiable information is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed.
- How can I be sure the fees from my Internet license purchase are credited to the correct agency?
- In designing and developing MassFishHunt, we preserved all organizational and revenue fund and source codes to ensure that each Division's revenue streams are maintained.
- How long must I have lived in Massachusetts to be considered a resident?
- To purchase a Resident Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, or Sporting license, you must have legally resided in Massachusetts for a period of at least six (6) consecutive months immediately preceding the date of license purchase. Resident Saltwater Fishing and Recreational Lobster Permit purchases have no specific requirement for length of residency in Massachusetts.
- I lost my license or permit. How do I get a duplicate?
- In the event of a lost or damaged license or permit, "MassFishHunt" allows you to reprint your items from your home computer free of charge. Please follow the 'License Inventory / Reprint' link on the Customer Menu.
- Who do I contact if I have questions about using "MassFishHunt"?
- The Department of Fish and Game has contracted with ActiveOutdoors, a division of Active Network, for system development, maintenance, and support. You may contact the ActiveOutdoors Help Desk via the information below:
- Help Desk phone: 1-888-773-8450
- Help Desk email: email@example.com
- Can I purchase any licenses and/or permits over the phone?
- Yes! You may purchase a Saltwater Fishing Permit or donate to the "Marine Fisheries Recreational Saltwater Fishing Fund" via the information below:
- Telephone Sales: 1-866-703-1925
- Hours of Operation: Seven Days a Week, 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET
- (Note: Please DO NOT call the Help Desk number for telephone purchases.)
Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) Questions
- I know that MassWildlife issues several different types of Hunting,
Fishing, and Sporting licenses. How will I know what type of license
I should buy?
- Based upon the personal information you provide in the Customer Profile
Summary (e.g. date of birth, Massachusetts residency, U.S. citizenship,
etc.), 'MassFishHunt' will automatically determine your correct license
type and associated fee. Please note that some license types that require
additional documentation will not be available via the Internet (e.g.
Resident Alien Hunting Licenses require an Alien Gun Permit Number,
Minor Hunting/Sporting Licenses require a Letter of Consent from a Parent
or Guardian, etc.). You will need to visit an authorized license vendor
location to purchase these licenses.
- Where are the 'authorized license vendor locations'?
license vendor locations include various retail establishments,
bait & tackle shops, City/Town Clerk offices, and MassWildlife offices.
- What is a Sporting License?
- Available only to Massachusetts residents, a Sporting License is a
combination Hunting and Freshwater Fishing License. With this type of
license, you may both hunt and freshwater fish in Massachusetts for
the entire calendar year. The fee for adult residents is $45 (including
the $5 Wildlands Stamp); $25 for adult residents age 65-69; and Free
for adult residents age 70 and over.
- I already purchased this year's Massachusetts hunting license at my
Town Hall. Can I buy hunting permits and stamps for this license via
- No. If you have already purchased a traditional "paper" Hunting, Freshwater
Fishing, or Sporting License from a City/Town Clerk, Retail Store, or
MassWildlife office, you must continue to purchase hunting permits and
stamps at authorized license vendor locations. Only when you purchase
a Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, or Sporting License via 'MassFishHunt'
will you be able to add permits and stamps electronically.
- Do I really have to enter my height and weight to purchase licenses,
permits, and stamps?
- Some, but not all, license purchases require additional personal information.
For example, customers interested in purchasing Hunting, Freshwater
Fishing, and Sporting licenses must provide their height, weight, eye
color, and hair color. This information assists law enforcement personnel
in identifying individuals in the field.
- Once I purchase a license though MassFishHunt, can I immediately go
hunting or fishing?
- Licenses, permits, and stamps purchased via the Internet will no longer
be printed and mailed to you. "MassFishHunt" allows you print your own
items from your home computer. Please note that you must print, sign,
and carry licenses, permits, and associated carcass tags with you while
you are hunting or fishing.
- If I purchase my Hunting, Sporting, or Freshwater Fishing license
online, how do I obtain a copy of the "Massachusetts Guide to Hunting,
Freshwater Fishing & Trapping"?
- The Massachusetts
Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing & Trapping
contains a summary of the laws and regulations in place as of September
- Why do I have to complete an affidavit to purchase a Massachusetts
Hunting or Sporting License?
- In 2007, legislation was enacted that requires first-time Hunting
or Sporting license buyers to produce a certificate showing they have
passed a state or provincial Basic Hunter Education course or show a
hunting or sporting license issued prior to January 1, 2007 by any state
or province. If your MassFishHunt customer record does not contain either
of these items, the system will provide an affidavit upon which you
can swear, under pains and penalties of perjury, that you are qualified
to purchase a Massachusetts Hunting/Sporting license. Completion of
the online affidavit is a one-time requirement, and you will not have
to go through this process during future license purchases.
- I purchased my Sporting License via MassFishHunt back in December,
and now I would like to buy an Archery Stamp. Do I need to Duplicate
my Sporting License when I add the stamp?
- No! MassFishHunt was designed with the flexibility to allow you to
purchase hunting stamps (Archery, Primitive Firearms, and Waterfowl)
at the time you purchase your Hunting/Sporting License or at a later
date. If you are purchasing hunting stamps at a later date, you do not
have to duplicate your license. Simply purchase the stamps and then
reprint your license. Please remember to carry the reprinted license
with stamps while hunting.
- If I want to take my children freshwater fishing, do I need a Freshwater
- If you are going to be either baiting the hook, holding the pole,
reeling in or taking the fish off the hook you should have a Freshwater
- What licenses and stamps do I need to hunt waterfowl?
- In addition to a valid Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting License,
waterfowl hunters 16 years or older must carry a valid federal waterfowl
stamp. Each hunter 15 years or older must also carry a valid Massachusetts
waterfowl stamp. Stamps are required for hunting any ducks (including
sea ducks), geese or brant but not required for hunting rails, snipe,
woodcock, or American coot. (Please note: Hunters of all species listed
above must complete a Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey.)
- Federal waterfowl stamps are valid July 1 - June 30
- Massachusetts waterfowl stamps are valid January 1 - December 31
- I only hunt woodcock. Do I need to complete a Harvest Information
- Yes. Woodcock hunters must complete a Harvest Information Program
(HIP) survey; however, they need not purchase federal or state waterfowl
stamps (unless they also decide to hunt ducks, geese, or brant).
- I collect Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamps. Will I still be able to
- 2011 is the last year that the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
will issue physical Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamps suitable for collecting.
You may only purchase these stamps at authorized license vendor locations.
Waterfowl and other stamps purchased via MassFishHunt will only appear
as line items on Hunting and Sporting licenses.
- I've already purchased my Hunting/Sporting license through MassFishHunt,
but I didn't select a Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ) for the Antlerless
Deer Permit drawing. How do I apply for one now?
- To apply for the Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing, please follow the
- Return to the MassFishHunt system and retrieve your Customer record
via your last name and Customer ID.
- Click "Enter Sales" button and then select "Hunting Permits and
Stamps" from the Main Menu.
- Click the [Add] button next to 'Antlerless Deer Permit Application'
- Select a Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ) via the drop-down box and
click [Accept] button.
- You may now purchase other items or proceed to Check Out. The Antlerless
Deer Permit Drawing application is free of charge.
- Where are the Massachusetts Wildlife Management Zones?
- A Wildlife
Management Zone map is provided online in PDF format. (Note: Use
the "Zoom In" (+) and "Zoom Out" (-) buttons to adjust map size)
- I didn't purchase my hunting or sporting license online. Can I still
apply for an Antlerless Deer Permit online?
- No! Online Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing applications can only be
made by online license buyers. Holders of traditional "paper" licenses
must use the permit application that is attached to their Hunting or
- When can I buy next year's hunting, fishing, and sporting licenses?
- Typically, we begin selling next calendar year's licenses, permits,
and stamps during the month of December. However, because it is still
possible to purchase the current year's items in December (almost all
licenses expire on December 31), customers must use care in making their
licensing year selections.
Marine Fisheries' Recreational Saltwater
Fishing Permit Questions
- Who needs the Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit?
- In order to fish recreationally for finfish in Massachusetts marine waters, including up to the first dam in rivers and streams that flow to the ocean (click here for exceptions to the rule), saltwater fishermen must have:
- A Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing permit, or
- A recreational saltwater fishing permit from a state that has a reciprocity agreement with Massachusetts
As of February 17, 2011, Massachusetts has reciprocity agreements with:
- New Hampshire: MA to NH, NH to MA
- Rhode Island: MA to RI, RI to MA
- Connecticut: MA to CT, CT to MA
- What is the cost of the Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit?
- The annual cost for both residents and non-residents is $10.
- Who does not need a permit?
- No permit is required for:
- Fishermen who are under 16 years of age
- Fishermen fishing on permitted for-hire vessels
- Fishermen who regardless of their age, otherwise meet the definition of a disabled person in M.G.L. c. 19C
- What about people 60 and older?
- People 60 and older must obtain a permit but the permit is free for these individuals (although a small fee will be charged by the vendor to process the permit through the Internet or by Phone).
- Do all recreational fishermen on a private vessel need to purchase a recreational fishing permit or is there a boat permit available?
- All recreational fishermen ages 16 to 59 must purchase an individual permit and those fishermen age 60 or over must obtain a free permit if not fishing aboard a permitted for-hire vessel on a charter or headboat trip. There is no permit available for a private fishing vessel or any type of family permit that covers multiple family members.
- Does my for-hire permit allow me to fish recreationally in saltwater when not involved in for-hire activity?
- Yes, it does cover you as an individual angler provided that the for-hire permit is issued in your name. You must have the for-hire permit in your possession.
- If I have a Highly Migratory Species permit am I exempt from the Massachusetts permit?
- If you are finfishing exclusively in federal waters and possess an HMS permit, you do not need a Massachusetts permit as long as you do not land any fish in Massachusetts. If you retain fish and bring them back into Massachusetts state waters, or you fish in state waters, then you will need the Massachusetts permit.
- Do I need to sign up for the National Saltwater Angler Registry as I did in 2010 (and pay an additional $15 starting in 2011)?
- No, the Federal permit no longer covers you to fish in Massachusetts waters. Your Massachusetts permit allows you to fish in Massachusetts and Federal waters as well as land your fish in Massachusetts. However, if you fish for tuna, billfish, swordfish, and/or sharks you will need a Highly Migratory Species permit from the Federal government.
- When does the permit expire?
- Massachusetts permits expire each year on December 31. All permits must be renewed annually.
- Is a saltwater/freshwater fishing combination permit available?
- No, not at this time, but you can get all of your permits at the same website.
- How will the permit fee revenues be used?
- All permit fees will be deposited in a dedicated account, managed by DMF. An advisory panel will assist DMF in developing programs for the expenditure of all collected funds. In accordance with the state law governing the permit program, the permit fee revenues can only be used to administer the permit program, improve the management of MA'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 permit fee revenues cannot be used for any purpose that is unrelated to marine recreational fishing in MA.
- Do I still need to follow all applicable rules and regulations governing marine recreational fishing?
- Yes, the permit simply enables you to fish legally, in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations. Recreational regulations can be found here.
- Where can I get a copy of the 2011 Massachusetts Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide?
- The guide is available on our website. If you would like a hard copy of the guide, please contact or stop by one of our offices.
- Do I need the Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit to go recreational shellfishing or recreational lobstering?
- No. Recreational shellfishing is allowed in designated clean areas and regulated by the individual cities and towns. Contact your town Department of Natural Resources for local regulations and permit acquisition. Recreational lobstering requires a separate permit that can be obtained through the same website: MassFishHunt
- Where can I find the recreational lobster and crabbing rules?
- The Recreational Lobster and Crabbing Guide contains recreational lobster and crabbing rules as well as other useful information.
Marine Fisheries' Recreational Lobster
- What is the fee for the non-commercial lobster permit?
- $40 for Massachusetts residents, $60 for non-residents. (Note: non-residents may not purchase or renew online. Please contact DMF at 617.626.1520 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
- Can I obtain a permit for both diving and pots, is there a difference in cost?
- Your permit can be endorsed for both diving and 10 pots with no increase in cost.
- How many lobster may I take?
- There is a limit of 15 lobster per day per permit, and all lobster must meet the legal requirements.
- What are the legal requirements?
- Lobster must be of legal size, v-notch lobster may not be taken, egg-bearing lobster may not be taken.
- Can I take lobster at night?
- No. Lobster may only be harvested from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
- I am not a resident of Massachusetts, can I still get a non-commercial lobster permit?
- Maybe. Non-residents must own at least $5,000 worth of real-estate in MA, and temporarily reside in a Massachusetts coastal city or town to obtain this permit, and a notarized affidavit must be submitted each year attesting to this. (Please note that only Massachusetts residents may purchase or renew non-commercial lobster permits online.)
- If I can't pull my pots, can someone else check them for me?
- Any immediate family member that resides in your household may pull your pots for you.
- My brother and I dive together and we each have a non-commercial lobster permit endorsed for diving. We would like to try setting pots this year, and were wondering if we can we both get our permits endorsed for the use of 10-pots.
- No. Each diver is required to have a permit issued in their name, but the pot endorsement is a little different; only one 10-pot permit may be issued per household. However, since you live in the same household, it is o.k. for either one of you to use the endorsed permit to check the pots.
- Can I sell any of the lobster I harvest?
- No. The Recreational Lobster Permit is strictly for non-commercial harvesting of lobster.