Once upon a time, going across the border for a bit of hunting and fishing wasn’t something you needed to think twice about. Nowadays, strict firearm laws, threats to wildlife, and national security concerns have made things a bit more complicated.
The best advice you will ever get is to be prepared. It pays to get things in order ahead of time. Ever since border security has gotten tighter, you’ll need to get licenses and permits to go hunting or fishing across the US-Canada border. Requirements will differ depending on the state, province, or territory you’ll be in. Continue reading to know more.
Fishing and Hunting Regulations
You’ll also need to get information regarding the regulations. Several things that you’ll need to check before you go on your trip:
- What is the daily limit? Some areas have no daily limit while others do, depending on the type of animal.
- What bait can you use? Generally, hunting with bait is usually not permitted. Fishing with bait is permitted. However, there are restrictions based on the type of live bait, where you got it, and how you transported it.
For example, Canada generally allows you to transport live bait including earthworms as long as they are transported in commercial bedding and not soil. However, Ontario does not allow the importation of most live bait such as live fish, crayfish, and salamanders.
- What firearms are allowed? Non-restricted firearms such as those used for hunting are allowed in Canada provided you have a non-resident license. To enter the US, you’ll need a permit from the ATF as well as a permit or license from the state you’ll be going to.
- What gear and equipment can you bring into the country? Some states and provinces prohibit the use of certain equipment such as lead fishing sinkers or jigs, artificial flies, live decoys, predator calls, tracer ammunition, and explosive arrowheads.
- What trophies can you bring out of the country and into your own? Depending on the location, you may be able to bring home your catch or your kill. There are quite a number regulations regarding the importation of animal parts, and these are enforced by different agencies such as the CDC, US Fish and Wildlife, and the US Department of Agriculture. You will need to consult with them on how you can comply with their rules.
- What species are restricted from being hunted or fished? Prohibited or restricted species will depend on the state or province that you are in.
- How should you transport the fish or game back home? How you transport your game or fish will depend on the state and federal laws that govern it.
Doing your research early will give you enough lead time to get the right documents in order. It will also prevent you from being denied admission either into the other country or your own. While you may already have previous experience in hunting or fishing across the border, rules and regulations do change. So make the time to get informed to ensure a pleasant border crossing all around.
Hunting and fishing across the border will most likely require you to get a lot of documentation. Aside from providing documents for admission into the country (i.e. passport, enhanced driver’s license), you will also need documents that will allow you to fish or hunt in the US or Canada. Below is a list of documents that are required
Documents for non-residents for hunting in Canada.
- A hunting version Outdoors Card
- All required licenses, tags, and/or seals
- Recognized hunting credentials
- Firearm declaration, permit, or license
- Basic hunter education course certificate
Documents for non-residents for hunting in USA.
- Valid entry documentation
- Approved U.S. Department of Justice ATF-6 NIA application (PDF).
- Permit for temporary importation of firearms and ammunition by non-immigrant aliens
- A hunting license
- Hunting education course certificate
- If the hunter is between the ages of 15 to 17, he or she may need a letter of consent from the parent or guardian
- If the hunter is between the ages of 12 to 14, he or she may not be required to have a license but should be under the direct supervision of an adult with a valid license. In some states such as Georgia and Kansas, youths that are at least 12 years of age are allowed to hunt alone.
- Canada Non-residents 18 years and older can fish in Canada provided they have a valid fishing license (a fishing version of the Outdoors Card + a fishing license tag). Those younger than 18 do not need a license. They only need to be accompanied by an adult with a valid license.
- USA In the US, non-residents that are 16 years of age and older are generally required to obtain a fishing license before engaging in recreational fishing. Those under the age of 15 are allowed to fish without a license as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult.
Ontario Outdoors card
The Outdoors Card is only applicable in the province of Ontario. To be able to apply for a hunting or fishing license, one must first apply for an Outdoors Card. There are two versions of this card – the hunting version and the fishing one. Ontario residents and non-residents can apply for the fishing version online or in person at participating Service Ontario Centres or an authorized license issuer. Applying for the hunting version, however, needs to be done in person.
To apply for either version, you will need to provide the following information:
- First and last name
- Date of birth
- Height and eye color
- Home and mailing address (including postal/zip code)
To get a hunting version, you will also need to provide one of these valid credentials:
- Ontario non-resident hunting license that was issued after January 1, 1968 and before January 1, 2009).
- Hunting license issued to you by a competent authority in any jurisdiction as a resident of that jurisdiction (issued after January 1, 1968)
- Ontario Hunting Education Examination Certificate/Report (issued after January 1, 1968)
- A certificate from any jurisdiction that gives you permission to buy a hunting license in that jurisdiction (issued after January 1, 1968)
Hunting and fishing license and tags, types
Both hunting and fishing are activities regulated by the government, most particularly at the state or province level. While the name of the state government agency that governs these activities may vary depending on the area (i.e. California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations), there are some rules and regulations that they share in general.
The most basic level of certification that enables you to pursue an animal in a given area is the hunting license.
Now, a hunting license is typically only valid in the state or province that they are issued in. A hunter can have multiple hunting licenses. To get a license, most US states and Canadian provinces will require an individual to undergo a hunter education course. Just like driver’s ed, you will need to pass the course in order to become eligible to purchase a license.
Hunting license sample
It is important to note that the types of hunting licenses issued by a state or province will vary. Some states such as California offers one general hunting license that permits you to hunt all species. Others such as Alberta require you to get animal-specific hunting licenses such as a black bear license, a pheasant license, and an elk license. Some sell licenses that are valid for an entire calendar year while others offer multiple years. Some states such as Texas offers lifetime licenses for resident hunters for a very big fee paid upfront.
Types of hunting licenses
- Resident Hunting License
- Non-resident hunting license
- Junior Hunting license
- One-day nonresident hunting license
- Two-day nonresident hunting license
- Disabled veteran hunting license
- Non-resident general hunting license
- Non-resident spring turkey license
- Non-resident special hunting license
- Black Bear license
- Caribou license
- Elk license
- Mountain goat license
- Waterfowl license
While a hunting license is necessary for hunting, it is not always enough. Some states and provinces will require additional permits on top of a license for certain animals, mostly for big game. Tags are additional permits that allow an individual to hunt a certain animal and then harvest it (if he’s successful). Unlike a license, a tag is a permit that you will need to attach to an animal right after you kill it. You will also need to mark or fill out the tag to record the date and time of your kill, the location, and descriptive features of your kill. So, one tag = one kill.
Now, there is a limited number of tags that a person can carry, depending on the type of the tag and the regulations of the state or province. For example, in California, a hunter can only buy one bear tag per license year, but they can purchase an unlimited number of wild pig tags. In the interest of species preservation, a state may also limit the number of tags it gives out each year. If there are more hunters than there are tags, a draw or a lottery is conducted. For example, in California, hunters may enter a drawing for an antelope or bighorn sheep tag.
Similar to hunting licenses, US states and Canadian provinces issue different types of fishing licenses to residents and non-residents. The types of licenses may depend on the length of the license’ validity, the type of fishing you will be doing (sport or conservation), the age of the applicant, and the type of catch you are aiming to get. Some examples of fishing licenses that are available in Canada and the US include:
- 3-year/1-year Sport fishing license tag
- 3-year/1-year Conservation fishing license tag
- 1-day Sport fishing license tag
- 8-day Sport fishing license tag
- 8-day conservation fishing license tag
- Non-Canadian Resident Angling License for a Member of an Organized Camp
- Annual Freshwater License
- Annual Saltwater License
- Annual Combo Fishing/Shellfish
- 3-day Razor Clam license
To find out the appropriate license you will have to acquire, you need to get in touch with the government agency that regulates the fishing and hunting in the state or province you wish to visit.
Just like the licenses and tags will vary depending on the state or province that issues them, the fees that will be required for purchasing these will also vary. Some factors that will affect the cost of the license include the hunter’s residential address (resident or non-resident), the hunter’s age, the type of license, and the length of the license’ validity. Typically, the cost of a non-resident license or tag is more expensive than those of a resident’s. For example, an elk tag will cost a resident of Oregon $46 while a non-resident will have to shell out $549 for the same permit. The same can be said for fishing licenses and tags.
For the fees for your firearms permit, please visit our Firearms page.