Fishing is a fascinating and gripping hobby, which can be a lot of fun. But to be able to fish in Germany you need the fishing license. Actually the name is wrong, because you need 3 different licences to be allowed to fish in Germany.
First of all you need a fishing licence (a certificate of competence), then you need a valid annual fishing licence and finally you need a permit for the particular water you want to fish in. But because we are in Germany, there are exceptions and special regulations for everything. Since fishing law is a matter for the federal states, there are also special regulations of the federal states and the legal situation is different in every federal state! Even fishing without a fisherman’s examination is allowed for adults in some federal states. There are also special regulations for holidaymakers.
Fishing without a fishing licence
These are the possibilities to fish in Germany without a fishing licence.
- First of all, in many federal states it is permitted to fish without a fishing licence at least in fishing ponds such as trout lakes. But of course you need the permission of the operator. Usually you pay per kilogram of fish caught at these ponds or you can buy a day ticket.
- Another possibility for adult anglers to fish without a fishing license are of course our neighboring countries (Austria, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and Czech Republic) where it is possible to fish without a fishing license. A permit for the respective waters is still necessary there! Licenses are often quite easy to get there.
- Children and teenagers from 10 to 16 years (some from 7 or 8) do not need a fishing license in many federal states, but they can apply for a cheap youth fishing license.
- In some federal states such as Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and also Brandenburg, fishing is also possible for adults without a fishing licence. However, this is somewhat restricted, only one rod may be used and you may only fish for peace fish.
- Another exception for people who do not need a fishing license is anglers who held a fishing license for one year before the regulation with the fishing license came into force and who are assumed to be competent due to their longstanding hobby.
- Last but not least, there are still exceptions for international waters such as Lake Constance and border rivers such as the Rhine. Lake Constance has its own fishing rights, which differ somewhat from the rights of the federal states. It is possible for tourists to obtain a fishing permit there without an annual fishing licence or a fishing examination!
- As a tourist you also have the possibility in almost all federal states to get a fishing permit without a fishing licence.
A really good overview on the subject with performances of all federal states and the exact regulations is available from the District Fisheries Association Straubing and from the Av Hamburger Oper
Der Jungenfischereischein corresponds in principle to the annual fishing licence for adults, only that it is of course available without a fishing licence.
The youth fishing licence is available in most federal states from the age of 10. As a rule, it entitles the holder to fish with a rod in the company of an adult fishing licence holder who also holds the fishing licence for the respective waters. The youth fishing licence is usually available from the community in the citizens’ office. Simply call the Citizens’ Office and find out whether it is possible to apply for it in the municipality. The youth fishing licence is relatively cheap and costs about 10-20 € – the costs vary from municipality to municipality. It is valid until the age of 16 and does not need to be renewed. For the youth fishing licence you often only need a photo and an adult applicant.
The fishing examination
Depending on the federal state, the fishing examination can be taken from the age of 10 years. I took and passed my own fishing exam when I was 10 years old. From the age of 16, the certificate of competence of a passed fishing exam is the prerequisite for receiving the annual fishing license.
Prerequisite for the fisherman’s examination is usually a preparatory course in which attendance is compulsory. There are also federal states in which the preparatory course is not compulsory. The preparatory course includes various subjects such as general fishology, aquatic ecology, equipment and laws. In my opinion, the course also teaches you interesting and important things about fishing and fish.
How exactly the exam is conducted is also a matter for the country! There is no uniform fishing examination in the whole of Germany. In some cases there is a practical part in which the correct equipment for a type of fishing is tested. However, due to the rapid market development, this part is of little practical relevance.
It is usually recommended to take the fishing exam at the age of 16, but in every federal state it can also be taken by younger students. It helped me a lot to take the fishing exam so early for my school career, because I had to learn the first time properly.
Frequently asked questions about the fishing exam and fishing license
Where can I take the fishing exam? Many clubs offer 1-2 preparatory courses per year. Just ask at the nearest fishing clubs if they offer a course, if not, they will certainly be happy to help!
What does the fishing exam cost?
Cost of the course and exam fee varies from club to club. Usually the total costs are around 110- 180 €
Is my fishing examination / annual fishing licence also valid in other federal states?
In the meantime, all federal states recognise a passed fishing examination from another state. The annual fishing licence is also recognised everywhere.
Is my fishing licence recognised abroad?
In Switzerland there is also a fishing licence in order to be allowed to fish with most fishing techniques. The German fishing licence is normally also recognised there as proof of expertise.
What happens if you fish without a fishing licence / permit?
In most cases it is a case of fish poaching or theft. The penalty can range from a few hundred euros to a good 1000 €. Other penalties such as imprisonment are also conceivable. Furthermore, in case of serious offences or repetition of the offence, an exclusion from the possibility of ever being allowed to take the fishing exam can be imposed.
Annual fishing licence for life
The annual fishing licence is available just like the youth fishing licence at the municipality in citizens’ offices. There is an annual fee of 5 € per calendar year and a handling fee. You also need a photo, you can get the annual fishing licence for one year, 5 years or 10 years. The processing fee is always the same per exhibition and not per year. Therefore it is cheaper to get the 10 year fishing license.
Fishing in the North and Baltic Sea
You can fish in the sea for free, right? Unfortunately this is not true and is also valid in many other EU and non-EU countries.
To fish in the North and Baltic Sea you need a valid annual fishing licence from the respective federal state.
Special regulation for holidaymakers
The exception: Since July 2012 there is a special regulation for Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and you receive a fishing licence for 28 days as a holidaymaker. According to the latest information, the licence costs 10 € and can be bought twice a year from local authorities.
- For Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania there is detailed information, forms and applications here: Link
- For Schleswig-Holstein you can even apply for a fishing licence online – all information here: Link >>
The fishing permit
The fishing permit for the waters is the last requirement to really go fishing. You normally show your valid annual fishing license and receive the permit for a fee. Of course you can also join a fishing club, usually the permit cards are included.
- Tip: Often you can get day tickets at the local fishing shop or at many tourist offices.
Purpose of the fishing licence
One can argue about the sense of the fishermen’s test. The origin of the fishermen’s examination is based on the Animal Protection Act. “No animal may be harmed without reasonable cause…” Therefore, a certificate of expertise and a reasonable reason are required to kill vertebrates. This is obtained with the fisherman’s examination. Part of the preparatory course is also the proper stunning and killing of fish.
In my opinion a proper and respectful handling of the creature fish is important and I think the fisherman’s examination is useful. The further bureaucracy and restrictions on the angler at the individual waters is then another matter.
The basic knowledge imparted does no harm to anyone and is usually very useful when fishing.