UK Fishing Licences: What You Need To Know

Fishing is a hugely popular pastime in the UK, and with plenty of lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, it’s no surprise that angling in Britain is worth an estimated £3 billion per year. To fish recreationally in the UK, you need what’s called a rod fishing licence. They are relatively cheap and straightforward to obtain. This article will explore the ins and outs of a rod fishing licence, how much they are, how to apply for one, and what types of species and locations covered.

What Is a Rod Fishing Licence?

A rod fishing licence is basically a permission slip, about the same size as your bank card, from the UK government, giving you the legal right to use a fishing rod or pole in Britain’s waters. Short-term licences come in the form of a confirmation email with a unique licence number included. Fishing licences are common in countries across the world, with proceeds often going towards fish stockings in popular angling areas, as well as habitat programs to ensure the clean-up and removal of rubbish and pollution from public fishing areas.

Do I Need a Rod Fishing Licence?

If you’ve got angling in your sights, then chances are you’re going to need to carry this licence. In the UK, a valid fishing licence is required to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England (except the River Tweed), Wales, and the Border Esk (and its tributaries in Scotland).

Top Tip: It’s important to remember to carry your licence with you at all times when fishing. The most common offence surrounding angling in Britain is fishing without a valid rod licence, which can land you with a fine of up to £2,500, as well as a criminal record.

If you’re planning to fish waters like this one, you’re going to need a licence!

How Much Does a Rod Fishing Licence Cost?

The cost of the licence depends on three important details; the length of the licence, the type of fish you are fishing for, and the number of rods you plan to use.

It’s important to note that children under the age of 13 do not need a licence.

Teenagers aged between 13 and 16 need a junior licence, which is free, but still needs to be applied for.

For everyone else, the pricing for England and Wales is detailed below:

Licence TypeTrout and Coarse up to 2-RodTrout and Coarse 3-RodSalmon and Sea Trout
1-Day£6Not Available£12
8-Day£12Not Available£27
12-Month - Over 65 or Disabled£20£30£54
12-Month - Junior (13 to 16 Years)FreeFreeFree

It’s important to distinguish that you do not need a licence to fish with rod and line in Scotland unless you are in the Border Esk region. However, as with most fishing sites across the UK, you will need permission from either the private landowner or the angling club that controls fishing in that area.

How do I buy/renew my rod fishing licence?

Buying or renewing your rod fishing licence is an easy process and can be done in several ways. You can buy a 1-day, 8-day or 12-month licence online. You will simply need:

  • A debit or credit card
  • Your Blue Badge or National Insurance Number
  • The other person’s details (e.g. date of birth) if you are buying for someone else.

You can also buy a rod fishing licence at your local Post Office or by calling the Environment Agency. Their details are:

Environment Agency: Licence Sales/Extensions

Telephone: 0344 800 5386, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (except public holidays)

It should be noted that you cannot get a junior licence at the Post Office or over the phone. You must apply online.


Top Tip: Your licence can start on any date within 30 days from the day you buy it; this is entirely up to you.

You can pick up a fishing licence from post offices across the UK

When Can I Expect to Receive My Rod Licence?

Upon purchasing a long-term rod fishing licence, a physical card will be sent to you in the post and should be with you in a matter of a few working days. Ordering the licence online will result in an email/digital receipt with your licence number on it. This email, along with the number, is all you need to produce should you be asked for proof of licence. Ordering a short-term licence for a matter of days is slightly different in that no physical card is issued. In this case, you will receive a confirmation email with a unique licence number, which is perfectly fine to present either printed or on your mobile phone while you are out fishing.

Top Tip: Your fishing licence is a physical card, like a credit card, that has the expiry date, type of fish you are allowed to fish, and the number of rods that are covered by the licence.

What if I lose my rod fishing licence?

Any issues surrounding your rod fishing licence should be directed towards the Environment Agency. For example, if you order a rod fishing licence and it does not arrive, or if you lose your current licence, or if you simply want to check to see how long is left on your current licence and possibly extend it. These are all matters that the Environment Agency can help you with:

Environment Agency

Telephone: 03708 506 506, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm


National Customer Contact Centre

PO Box 544


S60 1BY


Anything else I should know?

Finally, it’s vital to remember that a rod fishing licence gives you the legal right to use a fishing rod or pole. To actually fish on a specific stretch of water, you may need to buy a permit or get explicit permission from the landowner or specific angling club that owns that controls the fishing on that water. More information on buying specific permits can be found using the Find a Fishery search tool or researching Waterway Wanderers permits.