First-time hunting or sporting license (combination hunting and fishing) buyers must prove they have passed a state or provincial basic hunter education course or show a hunting or sporting license purchased from any state or province or (in Massachusetts) purchased prior to 2007.

Frequently Asked Questions


Does everyone have to have a basic hunter education certificate in order to obtain a license?

No. Adults who possess any prior year's hunting or sporting license (combination hunting and fishing license) from any state or province are exempt from taking and passing a hunter education course.

Each year all minors between 15-17 years of age who wish to purchase a hunting license must produce the following documentation:

  • A basic hunter education course certificate and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian OR
  • A letter signed by the minor's parent or guardian affirming that the minor will be accompanied at all times by a licensed adult while hunting AND a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian.

No other documents may be accepted from any minor 15 -17 years of age (including a previous year's hunting or sporting license) for purchasing a minor hunting license.

NOTE: Because of documentation requirements, minors may ONLY purchase a hunting license by visiting an official license vendor or MassWildlife office.  Minors cannot purchase hunting licenses via the Internet.


I took a state bowhunter education course and passed it. Will my bowhunter education certificate be accepted for purchasing a Massachusetts hunting license?

No. Bowhunter education certificates are not accepted for obtaining a hunting or sporting license in Massachusetts. You must have a certificate from a basic hunter education course.


I live in Massachusetts and am new to hunting. What do I need to purchase a hunting license?

All first time adult hunting or sporting license buyers must first show proof that they have successfully completed a basic hunter education course. Basic hunter education courses are available throughout most of the year in all regions of the state and are offered free of charge. Hunter education course certificates from other states, Canadian provinces and Mexico are also accepted for purchasing a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license.

All minors between 15 and 17 years of age must produce the following documentation in order to purchase any hunting or sporting license.

  • A basic hunter education course certificate and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian OR
  • A letter signed by the minor's parent or guardian affirming that the minor will be accompanied at all times by a licensed adult while hunting and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian.

No other documents may be accepted from any minor 15 -17 years of age (including a previous year's hunting license) for purchasing a minor hunting or sporting license.

In order to hunt with most types of guns, Massachusetts residents ages 15 and older need to contact their local police station and apply for and obtain either a Firearms Identification Card (FID) or a License to Carry Firearms (LTC). Contact your local police department for application information.


I've been hunting for over 20 years in Massachusetts, do I still have to take a basic hunter education course in order to buy a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license?

If you possess any prior year's hunting or sporting license from any state or province, you may purchase a license without taking the basic hunter education course. You will need that previous license (from any state or any year) to purchase the license on-line or over the counter. FID cards and LTC cards are not acceptable by law for purchasing a hunting or sporting license.

If you wish to hunt in another state or Canadian province, you should contact the wildlife agency in those jurisdictions to learn about their hunting license requirements. You may have to show those jurisdictions proof that you have successfully completed a basic hunter education course in order to purchase a license from that province or state.


If I have an FID card or LTC card, may I purchase a hunting or sporting license?

No. Massachusetts FID and LTC cards are not accepted for purchasing hunting/sporting licenses. The legislation now reflects the licensing requirement that had been in place prior to 1998.


I took a basic hunter education course in the past but cannot find my certificate. Can I get a replacement certificate or do I have to take the course again?

The Massachusetts Hunter Education Program has maintained student records for the past 40 years. You can contact the MassWildlife Hunter Education office for a replacement course certificate. Fill out a request form online at or contact the Hunter Education office by phone at (978) 772-0693. You will need to provide your name, current address, date of birth, and approximate year you took the course. It also helps if you remember the course location and know the address you lived at when you took the course.


I can't find my license from any previous year and want to go hunting. I never took a basic hunter education course. What can I do?

You have two options:

  • You may enroll and successfully complete a basic hunter education course which will allow you to purchase a hunting or sporting license. MassWildlife suggests that all hunters take a course so they will be introduced to safe firearms handling in the field and home, learn the hunting rules and regulations, recreate in a safe and ethical manner and become involved in conserving Massachusetts' wildlife and the habitat upon which it depends. Many experienced hunters who have taken the course tell our instructors they learned new information and found the course helpful to them.
  • If you can't find a previous license, when purchasing your license, you may check a box on an electronic affidavit that states you had a license prior to 2007.

My daughter will turn 15 and wants to go hunting with me. What does she need to purchase a hunting license?

All minors between 15 and 17 years of age must produce the following documentation in order to purchase any hunting or sporting license.

  • A basic hunter education course certificate and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian OR
  • A letter signed by the minor's parent/guardian affirming that the minor will be accompanied at all times by a licensed adult while hunting and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian.

No other documents may be accepted from any minor 15 -17 years of age (including a previous year's hunting license) for purchasing a hunting or sporting license.

Minors between 12 and 14 years of age may hunt with certain restrictions, but do not need a license. Hunters 12-14 years old must be accompanied by an adult licensed hunter and they must share one firearm or bow between the two hunters. Only one minor/adult is permitted. No one under age 12 may hunt.


I don't (or can't) own a gun and plan to hunt with archery equipment as I have in the past. What do I need to obtain a hunting or sporting license?

Bowhunters need to produce a certificate showing you have passed a basic hunter education course or show a hunting or sporting license from any previous year and/or any state or province. Bowhunter education course certificates are not accepted. The license vendor will issue you a hunting or sporting license with the documentation you provide.


I don't live in Massachusetts but plan to hunt there. What do I need in order to get a Massachusetts hunting license?

If you are 18 years of age or older, you will need one of the two following documents:

  • A basic hunter education course certificate from any state or province in order to purchase a non-resident big game or small game hunting license (big game in Massachusetts includes bear, turkey and deer) OR
  • Any previous year's hunting license from any state or province.

All non-resident minors between 15 and 17 years of age must produce the following documentation in order to purchase any big game or small game hunting license:

  • A basic hunter education course certificate and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian (big game in Massachusetts includes bear, turkey and deer) OR
  • A letter signed by the minor's parent or guardian affirming that the minor will be accompanied at all times by a licensed adult while hunting and a letter of consent allowing the minor to hunt from his or her parent or guardian.

No other documents may be accepted from any minor 15 -17 years of age (including a previous year's hunting license) for purchasing a hunting license.

Non-resident minors between 12 and 14 years of age may hunt with certain restrictions, but do not need a license. Hunters 12-14 years old must be accompanied by an adult licensed hunter and they must share one firearm or bow between the two hunters. Only one minor/adult is permitted.

Once you have your valid non-resident Massachusetts hunting license, you may come to Massachusetts and hunt.

Non-residents with a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license do not need any Massachusetts firearms permits to possess or carry a rifle or shotgun, but must carry their firearms unloaded an in a case while traveling in their vehicles. Non-residents may not purchase guns or ammunition in Massachusetts.

Non-residents who plan to hunt with handguns must first contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, Firearms Records Bureau, 200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150. Telephone is 617/660-4780.


I'm not a US citizen (alien) and wish to hunt. What do I need in order to obtain a hunting license?

Aliens need either

  1. a hunting license from a previous year or another state, OR
  2. a basic hunter education certificate issued by any US, Canadian, or Mexican jurisdiction.

In addition the Department of Public Safety requires permanent resident aliens planning to hunt with most guns to possess either an FID or LTC. When purchasing a license, these people will need to check a box affirming that they have met this requirement. (M.G.L. Chapter 140 Section 131H) Any questions about alien status (i.e. whether permanent or temporary), or the specific requirements of G.L. c. 140 § 131H, should be asked of the Department of Public Safety at 617-660-4780.